Nonprofits and the 2017 NM Legislative Session

With a state deficit of approximately $69 million, nonprofits need to pay attention to what’s going on during this legislative session which began January 17, 2017. 

Legislators have already been talking about funding cuts and tax increases.

As a nonprofit, you need to speak out to protect the communities you serve.  Know your rights: advocacy is allowed.  You’re probably already doing some, think of advocacy as education.  You can and should be educating the community, your donors, and your legislators about the importance of your work.

IRS rules apply to lobbying, not advocating.  Lobbying is when you try to influence decision makers.  Nonprofits are allowed to lobby, but you need to track and report lobbying expenditures.  See the IRS website for more information.

With respect to the 2017 session, pay attention to what is being proposed and let your representative know what affect it will have.

Follow the activities of the Appropriations & Finance Committee and the House Taxation & Revenue Committee to see what is being discussed.

You can sign up for legislation tracking service with My Roundhouse.

Do you know who your representative is, or your senator?  Go to the NM Legislature website and check Find My Legislator.

For opportunities to visit the Roundhouse, check the 2017 Legislative Social Calendar.  Come prepared with one page information sheets about your organization.

Why?

Are you wondering, why a state association?

From my position with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, United Way of Central New Mexico, I could see the great work being done by some nonprofits.  I was also seeing the statistics about New Mexico as the poorest state in the US, and the worst place to raise a child.  How could it be that so much could work was being done and yet, the issues were persisting?  Why weren’t we making progress and more importantly, how can we work differently together?

Multiple conversations and research led to the following conclusions:

  • We have been trying to change outcomes without changing attitudes (whether you believe you can, or believe you can't, you're right)
  • Too often, nonprofits work in silos focused on delivering services and surviving, unaware of other efforts or available resources
  • Nonprofits can do better at aligning efforts and working across sectors, but they will need support

With just over two million people in New Mexico, it’s possible to work together.  The state nonprofit association is intended as a vehicle for driving big, positive change.

What about the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Santa Fe Community Foundation, SHARE New Mexico, NonProfit Back Office Resources, MediaDesk, SINC, and the Nonprofit Resource Group?  In the absence of a state association, several organizations have arisen to address some of the needs of nonprofits.  Even if you combined all that these organizations do, they don’t provide all the services and benefits that state associations typically do.  In the spirit of collaboration, we will work together, building on each other’s strengths and addressing the gaps.

by Tsiporah Nephesh