In his speech to accept the Democratic party's nomination Thursday night, Obama said the election wasn't about him -- it was about you. Yes, you and you and you, nonprofits.
So what's he done for you lately? For starters, he's maintained a budget most nonprofits are happy with, personally given an admirable percentage of his income to charity and even made volunteering a priority. But he's also pushed for a limit on charitable deductions that's had many in the sector up in arms.
There's no question social responsibility has become one of the backbones of the campaign. As HuffPost blogger Mark Rosenman points out, nonprofits have a huge responsibility to help people understand the implications that both parties' policies have for social programs and their recipients.
"We must make decisions about public responsibility for the common good, about what we expect of government and of one another," Rosenman writes. "The charitable and philanthropic sector cannot afford to ignore this debate."
Nonprofit pocketbooks have been hit hard as a result of austerity measures and lagging donations. And the glowing reputation the sector has historically maintained have also taken a hit with "social welfare group" political donations muddying public perception.
So, as many have urged, nonprofits must speak out. After all, Obama said in his speech last night:
“If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.”
6 measures Obama has taken that affect the nonprofit sector:
Founded National Volunteer Week
He may have the most stressful job in America, but President Barack Obama still carves out time to give back. First off, the Commander-in-Chief established National Volunteer Week, a seven-day stretch in April that encourages citizens to help out in their communities. But the president doesn't just tell others to serve, he actually follows his own advice. On Martin Luther King Day, for example, Obama celebrated the civil rights leader's commitment to servicewhen he, his wife and daughter Malia helped build bookshelves and a reading corner at the Browne Education Center in D.C.
Proposed A Variety-Pack Budget For Nonprofits
The President's budget plan had few valleys or peaks in terms of nonprofit spending, and some welcomed no news as good news, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported. Obama's budget plans released in February did include a 5.5 percent increase for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which didn't make up for the cuts Obama made to the NEA last year, however. When it comes to international aid, Interaction points out Obama's budget was a "mixed bag." He requested to increase foreign aid by 2 percent but cut back on global health, international disaster assistance and refugee assistance. Obama increased development funds to the World Bank and maintained funding to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Interaction noted.
Grew National Service Opportunities
Just three months after taking office, President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which called for AmeriCorps -- the nonprofit that engages volunteers around the country – to increase its members from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017. It also expanded service opportunities for seniors and students and committed to improving the management, cost-effectiveness and accountability of national service programs.
Pushed Cap On Charitable Tax Deductions
For the fourth consecutive year, President Obama urged a cap on the amount donors can deduct from their taxes as a way to reduce the deficit. Nonprofit leaders have spoken out against the cap that would limit deductions to 28 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000, according to Bloomberg. The current limit is 35 percent. Many charities are concerned that capping the value of deductions would be a deterrent to donors making large contributions at a time when nonprofits are increasingly asked to fill in the gaps for government programs that help people in need. HuffPost blogger Brian Gallagher has said the charitable tax break caps are "ill-advised." "The President argues that capping the charitable deduction is a way to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share," Gallagher writes. "But our experience is that wealthy individuals give generously and they readily accept their civic responsibility through contributions to charity. Their corresponding deductions are simply equal to their tax rate."
Given Big Bucks
President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, gave $172,130 to charity last year -- nearly 22 percent of their income, according to tax returns released in April. The first couple gave its largest gift, of $117,130, to the Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit that provides free or low-cost housing to military families when their loved ones are getting treated at a military medical facility. Obama is so determined to help grow the nonprofit that he even put political differences to the side when he teamed up with Republican talk show host Bill O’Reilly to raise $750,000 for the organization, according to Reuters.
Showed You How To Be A Baller At Fundraising
Obama was admittedly "heartbroken" about last year's NBA lockout, so he held the first ever "Obama Classic Basketball Game" to raise money for his campaign. He called on historically charitable basketball players such as Chris Bosh and Kevin Durant who have raised money for needy families in the past, Yahoo reported. Not to be outdone in the showmanship department when it comes to fundraising, Obama serenaded donors at his own charity gathering. He sang Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" for attendees who paid $5,000 per ticket. The legendary singer Green was in the audience himself.
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