ADVOCACY UPDATES

We are taking action to build a stronger Texas nonprofit sector! Check here for the latest updates on our advocacy efforts.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

Over the next month, Texas lawmakers will make critical decisions to spend $16.7 billion of American Rescue Plan Act funds to respond to the pandemic and support communities as they continue their recovery this fall. These recovery funds are intended to provide aid to “households, small businesses, and nonprofits” most affected by the pandemic. The inclusion of nonprofits as eligible recipients of these funds acknowledges both the critical role nonprofits have played during this pandemic and the struggles they have faced due to declining fundraising, changing operational strategies, and increasing public need for services. Nonprofits have remained resilient in these difficult times, anchoring communities and fulfilling their missions, often at great organizational cost.

 

State lawmakers have flexibility to spend American Rescue Plan dollars in a way that maximizes relief and supports the rebuilding of communities.  The nonprofit sector urges policymakers to consider these priorities when allocating relief dollars to maximize impact and spur the Texas recovery:

  • Fund economic multipliers
  • Leverage trusted community partners
  • Create streamlined approaches to resource distribution
  • Target communities most impacted
  • Support the sector’s infrastructure and capacity needs

Texas nonprofits that have expressed support of these priorities include:

 

If you have any questions about these or other nonprofit-related bills, please e-mail Molly Weiner, United Ways of Texas Director of Nonprofit Engagement.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2021

Nonprofits, just like their for-profit and other sector counterparts, require thoughtful and supportive policymaking that helps them further their missions. Nonprofits are experts in their community and it is critical that they have a seat a decision-making tables. State and local leaders not only need to hear the voices of nonprofits, but actively engage them in policy design and implementation.

 

The report Texas Nonprofits: 2021 State and Federal Policy Landscape serves as an overview of the policies that impact the nonprofit sector in Texas. The report highlights key policy wins during the 87th Legislative session, provides updates on important federal policies that have supported nonprofits during the pandemic, and provides a look forward at the work to strengthen the voice and impact of the sector.

If you have any questions about these or other nonprofit-related bills, please e-mail Molly Weiner, United Ways of Texas Director of Nonprofit Engagement.

JUNE 29, 2021

Informed by the research and community engagement of Built for Texas, United Ways of Texas tracked over 150 bills related to the nonprofit sector during the 87th legislative session.  This work focused on key policies in the areas of: 

  • volunteerism & civic engagement
  • charitable giving & tax exemptions
  • state agencies & contracting
  • nonprofit representation & operations
  • overall state investment  

Our advocacy efforts included providing written and oral testimony, meeting with legislative offices, and presenting legislative updates to stakeholder groups.

 

While the legislature had important conversations about recovering from the pandemic and Winter Storm Uri and supporting communities, there were no major policy changes in the nonprofit sector.

 

Priority nonprofit sector bills that passed include:

  • SB 6 (Hancock): Provides COVID liability protections for nonprofits (retroactive to the start of the pandemic) that are making reasonable efforts to comply with government regulations and public health guidance.
  • SB 44 (Zaffirini): Allows state employees to take paid leave to volunteer with VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) during times of disaster.
  • HB 5 (Ashby): Creates a state broadband office (based in the Comptroller’s office), state broadband plan, and grant program to improve broadband infrastructure and address digital access and use in communities across the state. The bill also requires digital inclusion nonprofit representation on the Broadband Development Council and Board of Advisors—provisions championed by United Ways of Texas and other nonprofits.
  • Key budget items: Fully funding HB 3 (2019) school finance commitments; $110 million increase in higher education financial aid; $8.6 billion in mental health funding across all agencies; $8 billion for employer and community-based organization partnerships.

United Ways of Texas and OneStar are committed to continuing the work of Built for Texas and championing the nonprofit sector statewide.  Legislative committees will meet during the interim to study new topics and gather feedback from the public on priorities.  The legislature will be back for special session later this year to allocate $16 billion additional dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan.  We will continue to collaborate with our nonprofit partners on priorities that will strengthen and support the sector.

 

 

If you have any questions about these or other nonprofit-related bills, please e-mail Molly Weiner, United Ways of Texas Director of Nonprofit Engagement.

MAY 4, 2021

Built for Texas: The Impact and Opportunity of Our Nonprofit Sector, developed in partnership between United Ways of Texas and OneStar, provides a set of recommendations for business, philanthropy, and policymakers to support the work of nonprofits and to strengthen their ability to thrive.

During the 87th Legislative session, United Ways of Texas has advocated for bills aligned with these recommendations and that would support our state’s nonprofit sector as a whole.  We are tracking over 150 bills filed in key areas, including volunteerism & civic engagement, charitable contributions/tax exemptions, contracting with state agencies, and overall state investment.

 

Key bills aligned with this work that are moving in May include:

  • HB 5 (Ashby) / SB 5 (Nichols): Omnibus broadband bills that make investments in broadband infrastructure and that include digital connectivity, access, and use to help bridge the digital divide. The bills also include nonprofit representation on statewide councils/boards.
  • SB 44 (Zaffarini) / HB 1345 (Leach): Volunteerism bills that would allow state employees to take paid leave to volunteer with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
  • 211 Budget Rider: Budget priority that directs the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to make technology improvements to the 211 network, encourages partnerships between 211 and business/philanthropy for special projects, and promotes efficiency and innovation within the network, especially as it relates to disaster response.

In addition, the Legislature is having important conversations about allocating federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars, many of which can be directed to nonprofits who have been doing critical work in communities for the past 15 months to support Texans in need.

 

Check out the advocacy toolkits from the Built For Texas report or the COVID-19 survey report to share this important information with legislators and your networks. Look for a post-session recap of bills passed that impact the sector in summer 2021.

 

If you have any questions about these or other nonprofit-related bills, please e-mail Molly Weiner, United Ways of Texas Director of Nonprofit Engagement.

The research for Built for Texas provides an economic estimate of the vast contribution Texas nonprofits make to the lives of Texans and to the continuing prosperity of our state. The report’s economic analysis was conducted by The Perryman Group in collaboration with the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Bush School at Texas A&M University. Funding and strategic direction was provided by The Meadows Foundation, OneStar, the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School at The University of Texas at Austin, and United Ways of Texas.

This report and related sector engagement work is made possible by a group of funding and research partners dedicated to the idea that strong nonprofits make strong communities:

Special thanks to Erica Ekwurzel, consultant and writer, and Karli Isiyel, designer.