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Start Talking: Make the Common Good a Common Conversation

by Jennifer Gray

The nonprofit sector, due to its nonpartisan status, is uniquely positioned to be a voice for the common good. At MANP’s Fall Executive Leadership Forum: Nonprofits Talking Taxes last week, speaker Kim Klein urged participants to be catalysts for conversations within, and beyond, their organizations. Why now, in particular? Because Congress is debating tax reform right now, and Kim observed that:

  1. At the core, taxes reflect our values. Thus, healthy conversations about what we mean by the common good are necessary to inform effective tax policy;
  2. Declines in public funding have added new demands to further slice up the same private pie; and
  3. Nonprofits are economic drivers and should have a voice in how the common good is funded.

Make the common good a common conversation.

It can feel uncomfortable to introduce the concept of taxes–sometimes divisive, often overwhelming–but taxes have significant implications for nonprofits’ work. After all, it’s the deal charitable nonprofits strike with government: we get certain tax exemptions in exchange for providing public benefits.

How might the lens of the common good help you encourage reflection and raise questions that foster important dialogue? How is your organization’s work contributing to the common good? What are your community’s shared values and how do those inform who pays for what? To get people discussing the subject of taxes, Kim has this suggestion for a no-stress conversation starter.

Now is the time to start these conversations.

Nonprofits employ 1 in 6 Maine workers and strive every day to make Maine a great place to live, work and visit. Their voices are essential in shaping public policy that strengthens our communities. Federal tax reform happens every thirty years or so. Congress is talking tax reform now. Maine’s delegation has influence. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage on an issue that significantly impacts nonprofit mission work. Start talking.

MANP is here to help!

  • Invite us to join (or start) your conversation! MANP Executive Director Jennifer Hutchins and Jenn Burns Gray, our Director of Advocacy and PR, are available to speak to groups of MANP members on the economic impact of Maine’s nonprofits and what your organization can and cannot do to advocate for your work. Give us a shout.
  • Questions about what’s legal? MANP’s Raise Your Voice toolkit will answer your questions about what nonprofits can and can’t do related to advocacy.
  • Frame your messages effectively. MANP’s free Frames That Work toolkit provides Maine nonprofits with strong messages about the collective value of the sector that tap into values that resonate across political divides.

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