Ariane Cruz Represented Philanthropy New York with City Council Testimony on City Contracting

Friday, March 22, 2024

Ariane Cruz Represented Philanthropy New York with City Council Testimony on City Contracting

As a part of Philanthropy New York's ongoing efforts to serve as an ally to nonprofits and advocate for a stronger nonprofit ecosystem, Ariane Cruz, our Manager of Public Policy & Collaboration, testified in front of the New York City Council to strongly support streamlining NYC's nonprofit contracting process. Ariane underscored the impact of severly delayed payments and bureaucratic hurdles on nonprofits, leading to layoffs, service reductions, and closures –  ultimately impacting the communities they serve: all New Yorkers. 


Read her written testimony here:

TO: Committee on Contracts (Julie Won, Chair, and Members: Erik D. Bottcher, Sandy Nurse, Althea V. Stevens and Inna Vernikov) 

FROM: Ariane Cruz, Philanthropy New York 
DATE: March 22, 2024 

SUBJECT: Philanthropy New York Supports Streamlining Contract Process for Nonprofits 

Good afternoon, Chair Won, and esteemed members of the Committee on Contracts.  

My name is Ariane Cruz, Manager of Public Policy and Collaboration at Philanthropy New York (PNY). We are submitting a testimony to express our strong support for recommendations aimed at streamlining and improving New York City's contracting process for nonprofits. We applaud the City Council’s leadership in negotiating and, ultimately, reversing the decades-long divestments in human services workers by securing COLA increases over the next three years. We believe this is a huge win for the stability of the sector. However, we are confident that streamlining or removing various unnecessary administrative hurdles imposed by city agencies on nonprofits will enhance New York City's nonprofit ecosystem even further, thus effectively bolstering our support for communities. 

Philanthropy New York is a membership organization of nearly 300 grantmaking institutions within the New York City metropolitan area and over 5,000 engaged community funders in a range of roles within those institutions. Collectively, our members contribute over $7 billion in grants annually. We unite funders from diverse sectors to tackle sector-specific challenges, exchange insights, and cultivate essential skills to enhance the impact of every grantmaker and the philanthropic community at large. PNY's values, encompassing learning, leadership, community, and equity, shape our decisions, driving our commitment to assist our membership in striving towards a society that is more equitable and democratic. 

We firmly believe that supporting our members' philanthropic efforts must include fostering an ecosystem where the nonprofit partners they support can flourish. Beyond the vital funding our members offer to New York nonprofits, we recognize that government funding and contracts are integral to the resource pool necessary for nonprofits to carry out their crucial missions. Through our policy work, we actively endorse initiatives such as those highlighted in the report, "Strengthening NYC Nonprofits by Reducing Administrative Burden," authored by the Center for the Urban Future and published last year. Implementing the strategies outlined in this report would significantly enhance an inefficient contracting process, ensuring that crucial government and philanthropic funds are optimally utilized to benefit everyday New Yorkers and the nonprofits delivering essential services. 

We have received firsthand accounts from our nonprofit and philanthropic partners detailing the detrimental effects of delayed payments and stalled contracts, which have left a devastating impact on nonprofits and their staff. These organizations have been compelled to make agonizing decisions: either implement layoffs, slash employee wages, or forego crucial services to remain operational. Most distressingly, some longstanding nonprofits, which have been indispensable to their communities for generations, are being forced to close their doors. This exacerbates an already pressing situation as New York faces widespread mental health crises, an influx of new New Yorkers, and an increasing demand for food and shelter. This creates a substantial void in the social safety net for New Yorkers who depend on these essential services. 

Throughout 2023, PNY championed a stronger nonprofit sector through various initiatives. We partnered with Human Services Council and Nonprofit New York, advocated for federal support for a stronger national nonprofit sector, and facilitated cross-sector collaboration. These combined efforts demonstrate PNY's unwavering commitment to a robust nonprofit sector that effectively serves New Yorkers and maximizes philanthropic investments.  

PNY believes timely contract registration and payments are critical to an organization's success and a fundamental obligation of a government that outsources crucial services. Late payments often force philanthropic dollars to act as a backstop, hindering investments in strengthening interventions and building capacity. Prioritizing on-time and in-full payments benefits not only nonprofits but also the communities they serve. Reforming the contracting and payment process provides the stability needed to ensure quality social services and empowers BIPOC-led nonprofits to sustainably serve their communities. 

PNY urges the Committee to prioritize recommendations that improve the contracting process for nonprofits and ensure they get paid in-full and on-time. This reform will create a more equitable and efficient system, allowing these crucial organizations to focus on what matters most: serving all New Yorkers. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.  


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