I understand where this is coming from, but I’m not sure I would trust a legislature to fairly determine which organizations deserve a tax exemption more than the courts.
If such an amendment were to ever pass, I imagine lobbyists who represent nonprofits in the state capitol would see a nice little uptick in their business.
From a May 5th article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on how racial bias impedes diversity at nonprofits:
A 2010 Urban Institute report found that people of color are underrepresented on nonprofit boards in the Baltimore-Washington area, given their share in the region’s population. The report found that 77 percent of nonprofit board members in the area are white, and some boards—24 percent of them—are completely made up of white people. (my emphasis)
Mayor Gray’s proposed One City Fund (which includes, as one if its goals, “growing and diversifying our economy”) could be a great opportunity to do something about this, by awarding grants to nonprofits in D.C. that either have diverse leadership in place, or at least can demonstrate that they have a clear commitment to do so. Here’s a group that has done some good work on this issue.
In case you missed it, the House Ways and Means Committee released a 558-page (!) report earlier this month detailing a range of options for overhauling the tax code. For those of us who work in the nonprofit sector, the report is of some significance because it summarizes all of the proposals for limiting or changing the charitable tax deduction that have been bandied about over the last several years. A recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy helpfully pointed out that the section on charitable giving begins on page 491.
Offering fee-based services for those who can afford it, in order to generate income to support free ESL/literacy services for those who can’t, makes a lot of sense—especially contracts with other organizations and businesses for custom-designed services. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s probably something more organizations that provide community-based literacy instruction ought to be looking at. I just can’t see a scenario in the near future in which government funding (federal, state, or local) for adult literacy or ESL is likely to substantially increase, and growth in foundation and charitable giving in general is likely to continue to be pretty flat. At the same time, immigration reform appears to have at least a reasonable chance of passage in the near future, and if it does, that will likely open up even more opportunities for fee-based English language instruction and translation services.