In order to achieve Philanthropy New York’s vision of an equitable, sustainable, and democratic society we affirm that non-profit organizations and their constituents must build community power through effective advocacy and lobbying.
Nonprofits often represent the needs of our communities, but many nonprofits do not conduct legislative advocacy. Fewer than 3% of nonprofits engage in legislative advocacy, which is a legal and legitimate vehicle for creating structural policy changes that materially affect communities. In a time when New Yorkers face economic uncertainty, record unemployment, racial injustice, a looming eviction crisis, lack of affordable housing, and other challenges, nonprofit advocacy is critical for bringing diverse voices, leadership, and perspectives into the policymaking process. This policy would support non-profit leadership and build community power in the nonprofit sector and the communities they represent.
Support Intro 2145-2020. City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera introduced Int.2148-2020, which would raise the City's "lobbying threshold” to $10,000. Nonprofit New York and coalition partners have been advocating to raise the threshold as a part of the A Place at the Table campaign. The campaign seeks to reduce barriers for nonprofits to engage in legislative advocacy.
New York City’s “lobbying threshold” is $5,000. This means if an organization spends $5,000 in a year doing legislative advocacy, they must register as a lobbyist. We want to create more space for nonprofits to have a place at the public policy table, by raising the lobbying threshold from $5,000 to$10,000. Raising the threshold will encourage more nonprofit advocacy and alleviate the administrative burden placed on grassroots organizations’ advocacy.
Legislative advocacy rules are complicated and burdensome, and nonprofits are the most tightly regulated of all sectors that lobby. An organization that plans to spend $5,000 in a year on legislative advocacy must: register as a lobbyist and submit bi-monthly reports on their activities to the city (and state), file a minimum of 6 reports each year, and risk paying late filing fees ranging from $75 to$2,000 per filing. This causes many nonprofits to decide not to lobby at all - taking their voices, and the voices of their communities, out of the conversation.
Clarity on non-profit advocacy and lobbying see here.
Approved by the Public Policy Committee: January 29, 2021
Approved by the Board of Directors: March 3, 2021