U.S. public wants Congress to give nonprofits relief to better serve communities

Alexandria, Va.  – The well-being of the U.S. would improve if the country’s more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations received immediate legislative relief from Congress to support charity and community-building efforts during COVID-19 and the recession, a new poll finds.

Less than a week before Election Day 2020, polling reveals the public believes charities, other nonprofit organizations, and religious institutions are outperforming the U.S. government and businesses in meeting pandemic-related community needs, and that urgent legislative action is required to support their efforts. The public opinion poll of registered voters follows a summer #Relief4Charities week of action and a joint letter signed by over 4,000 nonprofit organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Among key findings from the October poll:

  • Voters (63%) believe nonprofits are leading the way in meeting needs in their communities resulting from the pandemic.
  • 75% of voters say that Congress and the president need to take urgent action to provide support for charities. The most common response was “Strongly Agree.”
  • Almost 9 in 10 voters (88%) want Congress to raise the cap on the charitable deduction to encourage more financial donations to nonprofits, with a majority strongly supporting it.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 voters (73%) say local community challenges could be better solved if charities and other nonprofits – as a sector – received official representation and a voice in the presidential administration.

Voters also are expressing strong support for other ways nonprofits, the third-largest workforce in the U.S., can continue playing a trusted role in communities. This includes bolstering volunteerism in the country’s rebuilding efforts and protecting charities from partisan politics.

Members of the #Relief4Charities coalition say this public opinion poll draws greater attention to the importance of nonprofit legislative relief by Congress and opens the door to more conversations with lawmakers.

Daniel J. Cardinali, President and CEO of Independent Sector: “Our country is deeply divided across many dimensions. To address the significant existential questions facing the nation, we’re going to have to come together as a nation to rebuild ourselves in light of the pandemic, economic impact, and racial reckoning. Relief and support for nonprofits from our policymakers are solutions that Americans clearly agree on, and they’re essential to our national rebuilding and ensuring that everyone can thrive.”

Sue Cunningham, President and CEO, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE): “It is heartening to see the overwhelming support voters have for raising the cap on the charitable deduction to encourage more charitable donations in this crucial time for our members. CASE remains focused on supporting a universal charitable deduction that will allow all taxpayers, regardless of their income, to make philanthropic gifts to schools, colleges, and universities, and other charities. These charitable donations, which support research, student scholarships, and other critical academic programs and initiatives, help educational institutions provide transformational learning opportunities for their communities.”

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA: “With a resurgence in COVID cases and continued high unemployment, Catholic Charities’ are overwhelmed by the sheer number of individuals coming to them for help. The ability for nonprofits such as ours to provide basic needs, such as food and housing assistance, is not sustainable long-term without federal support.”

Learn more about the key takeawaysTargetPoint Consulting conducted this public opinion poll of 1,009 registered voters, on behalf of Independent Sector, from October 11 to 12. Democrats and Republicans made up two thirds of the respondents. About a quarter of the respondents identified as independents. The remaining respondents did not state a political party preference or identified as Libertarian or Green Party. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at independentsector.org.

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