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Advocacy

NAO engages in public policy advocacy on behalf of Oregon nonprofits every day. We are uniquely positioned to speak with a collective and amplified voice to help nonprofits lead in their communities, affect policies and influence decision-makers. Join us by participating in facilitated public policy cohort groups, members-only public policy updates, trainings, and more!

What NAO Does For you

We build the capacity of the nonprofit sector in Oregon to monitor and take action on public policies that affect the sector as a whole. Our Public Policy Committee directs our work in this area, in consultation with our membership. In addition to engaging in legislative and electoral activities, we believe that promoting the good works of nonprofits through outreach to the media and opinion leaders is also an important advocacy function.

Specifically, we aim to:

  • Encourage and support nonprofit engagement in the public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
  • Provide nonprofits effective advocacy training and skill building opportunities.
    Build a unified voice for the sector on matters affecting all nonprofits and use that voice to inform decision makers.
  • Increase respect and support for the nonprofit community among elected officials, opinion leaders, and the general public in Oregon.
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Current Campaigns

Using NAO’s Public Policy Principles and Inquiry Framework, NAO promotes an accountable, ethical, and equitable nonprofit sector. NAO enhances the ability of Oregon’s nonprofits to serve their missions, the people of Oregon, and our communities by advocating for their needs. We support the ability of nonprofits to engage in advocacy and lobbying to the fullest extent allowed by law.
NAO is prioritizing the following state and federal legislative and policy issues for 2022:

  1. Build Trust in Civil Society: Trust in government – and broadly in civil society- has been sinking across America and here in Oregon. Communities are feeling fragile, fearful, agitated, and risk growing disenfranchised with the political process. Communities yearn to find understanding and solutions around racial equality, social justice, economic inequality and a growing division between urban and rural areas. NAO will encourage and empower nonprofit leadership to utilize their organization’s influence to promote compromise and solutions. NAO will help educate nonprofits on how they can advocate and clearly articulate support for or against specific issues while rebuilding trust in civil society. Specific legislative initiatives we’ll be watching include:
    • Promote Civic Engagement: NAO believes that every individual and community counts. All people have the potential to be agents of renewal and innovation in their own lives, families, and community. Dialog between nonprofit leaders and legislators is vital throughout all aspects of community service. NAO will continue to advocate on behalf of the sector that the legislature maintains an inclusive and transparent process that gives ample time for community engagement and feedback even with pandemic-required distancing and/or virtual procedures in place. NAO will educate nonprofits regarding these topics and assist nonprofits in engaging in these initiatives.
    • Urban / Rural Divide: Urban and rural demographics continue to evolve as Oregon’s population grows, yet legislation has typically been designed by, and in response to, urban population activities. These tactics do not necessarily benefit rural districts and, in some cases, may cause undue economic hardship. NAO will help educate nonprofits regarding these topics and assist nonprofits in engaging in legislative dialogue across the state.
    • Broadband Access: Access to the Internet continues to be an invisible barrier to rural and economically-challenged populations. In the wake of Coronavirus and physical distancing, broadband services are now more necessary than ever to maintain access to the public education curriculum and business operations. NAO will support public and private partnerships to bridge the broadband gaps across the state to provide equitable access to all Oregon residents.
  2. Equity Justice: NAO is committed to building a more just and equitable Oregon. We recognize the history of oppression that has resulted in ongoing disparities for some communities, especially communities of color. We believe that nonprofits that prioritize engaging diverse perspectives and evolve to be inclusive, behave equitably and have profound impacts on society. NAO will advocate for organizations that work through racial justice in order to create positive systemic change.
  3. Nonprofit Independence: We believe in the power of the nonprofit sector, led by community. Independent nonprofits are generally better equipped, more efficient, more nimble, and execute services at a higher quality than government bodies. NAO recognizes the gaps in translating these values to legislative officials and will continue to be an advocacy conduit in amplifying the value of the nonprofit sector to fulfill community needs. We will protect the independence of the charitable nonprofit sector from government policies and regulations that aim to subjugate nonprofits to government and would damage the public’s trust in 501(c)(3) nonprofits. We will protect against regulations and concepts like the repeal of the Johnson Amendment or expansion of state requirements for public records and meetings laws.
  4. Relief and Reconstruction: The Coronavirus Pandemic and 2020 wildfires have disproportionately impacted communities across the state, making access to relief and recovery resources irregular and inequitable. Nonprofits serve as critical civic infrastructure in times of emergency and disasters but receive far less attention and funding in planning for disaster and continuity of operations. Nonprofits are already embedded in our communities and can mobilize thousands of volunteers quickly for response and recovery. NAO will support efforts, engagement, and NAO will continue to advocate for time-sensitive action by federal and state government for nonprofit agencies to expedite access to vital resources, information, and support and investment by government for nonprofit organizations in disaster preparedness and post-disaster resources.
  5. Disaster Preparedness: Nonprofits serve as critical civic infrastructure in times of emergency and disasters, but receive far less attention and funding in planning for disaster and continuity of operations. Nonprofits are already embedded in our communities and can mobilize thousands of volunteers quickly for response and recovery. NAO will support efforts, engagement and investment by government for nonprofit organizations in disaster preparedness and post-disaster resources.
  6. Common Sense Statute: NAO will support the “clean-up” of existing statute and regulations where rules or laws that have been passed have created unintended and inadvertent conflicts in the statute causing two laws to contradict each other. Any statute clarification that NAO engages on would be limited to laws that govern, benefit or hurt the charitable nonprofit sector.

Approved by the Board of Directors, January 13, 2022

Goals

NAO prioritizes an ethical, accountable, and fair nonprofit sector. NAO strives to enhance the ability of Oregon’s charitable nonprofits to serve their missions, the people of Oregon, and our communities.[1] We advocate with policy makers for the role of these nonprofits as drivers of thriving communities and the shared prosperity for our state. We support the ability of nonprofits to engage in advocacy and lobbying to the fullest extent allowed by law. We recognize the importance of the “Third Sector’s” independence and the unique perspectives our sector brings to policy discussions.

Principles

  1. We believe that lives are enriched and society thrives when all people have an opportunity to prosper. We believe that policy decisions should increase prosperity and result in greater equity.
  2. It is critical that state and federal spending policies prioritize programs that are demonstrating their promise and effectiveness in increasing economic mobility for all Oregonians and Americans. Programs that provide critical support to Oregon’s most vulnerable populations must be safeguarded.
  3. We believe that every individual and community counts.
  4. All people have the potential to be agents of renewal and innovation in their own lives, families, and community. As the state association for nonprofits, we are accountable to these individuals and communities. State and federal spending policies must help all Oregonians to realize their potential, regardless of their ability or background.
  5. We believe in the importance our communities place in private action for public good. We recognize the opportunity charitable giving and volunteering present for all Oregonians and Americans.
  6. NAO advocates for policies that protects, strengthens and encourages Oregonians to contribute to the charitable organizations of their choice by providing tax deductions for their gifts and tax incentives for volunteer service, removing tax obstacles to charitable gifts, and maximizing gifts from private foundations.
  7. We believe in the power of the partnership between government, private sector businesses and the charitable sector.
  8. A cornerstone strategy of our policy work is partnerships. We collaborate with and represent our members as well as a network of statewide, regional and national advocates, as well as our private and public sector allies. Thoughtful and strategic collaboration across sectors is critical to advancing the common good and scaling important social change. Rigorous and respectful dialogue, with all voices represented and heard, must be a priority as policy decisions are made.
  9. We believe that communities thrive when all people have a voice and an opportunity to be accurately and equitably included in discussions, forums and data that drive policy.
  10. Demographic and socioeconomic data from key governmental collection mechanisms drive informed, inclusive, and effective decision-making. Both the process and the data itself, assists state and local leaders, businesses, nonprofits, and foundations in defining how to prioritize services, resources, and investments.

[1] When we refer to “nonprofits” we mean organizations that are exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

We do not advocate on issues related to the agendas of various nonprofit subsectors. However, we do facilitate forums in which nonprofit organizations can engage each other in collaboration and discussion on issues important to subsectors.

Approved by the Board of Directors, January 24, 2019

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