Line drawing of Montana state capitol building.

Join our weekly Policy Calls

Join MNA for a weekly policy update conversation for the 2023 Legislative session, lead by Liz Moore, MNA’s Executive Director, and past Chair of the National Policy Council Committee.

Thursdays, 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM


Town Hall: What to Expect from the 2023 Session

January 27, 11:30 am

Recording available.

line drawing of Montana state capitol building.

Contents

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Background

Charitable nonprofit organizations operate in every county and in all Tribal Nations in Montana. Nonprofits provide essential services, support Montana’s quality of life, and partner with government to uphold our state’s social safety net. 11.4% of Montanans work for charitable nonprofits as frontline workers, guardians of community well-being, and economic drivers. They bring community-based, people-centered solutions and lighten the burdens of government, taxpayers, and society. 

Montana Nonprofit Association’s policy work supports and advances an optimal nonprofit operating environment. MNA advocates at all levels of government to inform policymakers of the impact of nonprofits and promote policies that enable nonprofits to advance their missions.  MNA understands that consistent policies which advance equity enable the work of charitable nonprofits everywhere and are critical for nonprofits to provide for the public good and contribute to thriving communities in Montana and beyond. 

Public Policy Objectives

  • Unite and strengthen the nonprofit sector as a collective force to improve the quality of life in Montana. 
  • Build the capacity of the nonprofit sector in Montana to understand, monitor, and act on public policy issues that affect nonprofits. 
  • Promote public policies that are inclusive, equitable, and representative of the values broadly associated with a thriving nonprofit community. 
  • Educate and strengthen relationships with policy makers, partners in government, and the public to increase respect and support for the nonprofit sector. 
  • Advocate at all levels of government to promote public policies that enable Montana nonprofits to advance their missions. 

Public Policy Agenda

Montana Nonprofit Association’s public policy agenda represents our long-term framework for addressing public policy that impacts and strengthens nonprofits in Montana. The following agenda items represents the core focus areas of MNA’s public policy agenda and was developed in consultation with MNA membership and the broader Montana nonprofit sector:  

1. Nonprofit Practices, Reputability, and Accountability 

Nonprofits can only be successful through earning and maintaining public trust. MNA promotes the ability of nonprofits to operate at the highest levels of integrity and transparency and be accountable to the public and communities they serve. 

  • MNA supports an appropriate level of government regulation and enforcement to protect the public’s interest while upholding the integrity of the nonprofit sector  
  • MNA supports policies that protect the decision-making autonomy and self-governance authority of charitable nonprofits 

2. Charitable Giving 

MNA recognizes that public generosity and engagement are essential to a strong nonprofit sector, including volunteerism and philanthropy. 

  • MNA supports policies that promote volunteerism and incentivize charitable giving 
  • MNA supports policies that support integrity in philanthropic practices and balances transparency with donor rights 

3. Tax Treatment of Nonprofits  

MNA promotes and advances policies that preserve tax exemption of nonprofit organizations. 

  • MNA supports policies that protect tax-exempt status in recognition of the value nonprofits bring to society and communities  
  • MNA supports policies that reflect parity for nonprofit employers alongside their for-profit counterparts 

4. Nonprofit-Government Relations 

MNA improves and strengthens the essential partnership between nonprofits and local, state, and federal government agencies and processes in Montana. 

  • MNA supports reforming government contracting to balance accountability needs with reduction of unnecessary and burdensome requirements  
  • MNA supports policies that ensure that those most impacted by government policies and regulations are included in the decision-making process 

5. Workforce Development & Capacity Building 

MNA advances policies and partnerships that strengthen and sustain the nonprofit workforce. 

  • MNA supports policies that ensure nonprofits are included in statewide workforce development initiatives 
  • MNA supports inclusion of an appropriate and competitive wage base for nonprofit employees in government contracts and grants 
  • MNA supports policies that promote government funding for nonprofit capacity building 

6. Advocacy and Lobbying Rights 

MNA protects the advocacy rights of all 501(c)(3) organizations and strengthens the ability of Montana nonprofits to engage in the public policy arena. 

  • MNA promotes policies that ensure 501(c)(3) nonprofits can advocate fully and freely within the law, and corrects misperceptions and clarifies lobbying laws and regulations for charitable nonprofits. 
  • MNA opposes policies that restrict the advocacy rights and responsibilities of charitable nonprofits. 

7. Civic Engagement  

MNA supports policies that promote the ability of nonprofits and the people they serve to participate fully in the institutions and processes of democracy. 

  • MNA supports policies that protect and increase the ability of citizens to exercise voting rights 
  • MNA clarifies the appropriate role of nonprofits in advancing civic engagement  

8. Budget – Revenue and Appropriations  

MNA supports a budget structure, including both revenue and appropriations, that meets the needs of today’s Montana. 

  • MNA supports public investment in resources that equitably meet the needs of Montana’s people and advances public/nonprofit partnerships as an effective way to support the state’s communities  
  • MNA opposes arbitrary and across-the-board budget cuts that undermine the ability of nonprofits to deliver vital services 
  • MNA opposes practices that lead to government contracts and grants that do not fund the full cost of expected nonprofit services 

Criteria for Implementing Advocacy and Public Policy

The following criteria will be used by the Public Policy Council in considering whether MNA should engage in policy advocacy on a particular issue: 

Impact – Does this issue affect the interests of the nonprofit sector in a significant way? 

Support – Is there, or do we reasonably anticipate there will be, general support among the members of MNA on the position to be taken? 

Credibility – Would MNA as an organization be perceived as a legitimately concerned and appropriate advocate for the position to be taken? 

Generally, MNA focuses on issues that affect the entire nonprofit sector, or a vast majority of the sector; however, MNA may offer direct advocacy and/or awareness-building support for sub-sector issues such as housing, childcare, workforce development, and/or others that widely impact the nonprofit sector. In general, MNA opposes policies that divide 501(c)(3) organizations based on mission, philosophy, or services provided. In this context, MNA’s public policy efforts will encompass issues which: 

  • Have statewide application or effect; or 
  • Have local or limited application but are determined to have statewide policy significance; 

AND 

  • Have general relevance to the creation, management, operation, administration, and well-being of nonprofit organizations in the State of Montana; or 
  • Are of broad, community-wide importance, and are likely to have such a significant impact on the people and causes nonprofits serve that it is appropriate for the voice of the nonprofit sector to be represented in the policy debate. 

Public Policy Council

Montana Nonprofit Association seeks to build the capacity of the Montana nonprofit sector in order to monitor and act on public policy issues that affect the sector as a whole. By making policy recommendations to the MNA Board of Directors and serving as the primary public policy advisory role to the MNA staff, MNA’s Public Policy Council provides leadership to the Association. The public policy agenda-setting process is led by the MNA Public Policy Council and MNA staff which ensures the voice of the broader membership is represented.