Public Policy Initiatives
We understand that public policy has a significant impact on the communities in which we work and the nonprofit organizations we serve. Actions taken at the local, state, and federal levels of government result in opportunities and challenges that affect the ability of nonprofits to achieve their missions.
Nonprofits Assistance Fund is able to direct a limited amount of staff time and resources to public policy efforts. The Board of Directors has adopted a policy outline that guides our involvement. In general, these three criteria are applied when a current or emerging policy issue is identified:
- Impact: Policy issues that will have a direct impact on the financial health and capacity of a substantial number of nonprofits we serve or that will affect the availability of adequate and affordable capital for nonprofits serving the communities we serve.
- Expertise/Information: Nonprofits Assistance Fund has a unique combination of information, expertise, understanding, or standing on the matter.
- Capacity/Partner: Nonprofits Assistance Fund can make a meaningful contribution to address or shape the policy issue within available capacity. This is almost always carried out in partnership with other organizations.
Current or recent public policy activities
Pay for Performance Bond Pilot
NAF is actively involved in the planning for implementation of the Minnesota Pay-For-Performance Pilot Program which is “established to demonstrate the feasibility and desirability of using state appropriation bonds to pay for certain services based on performance and outcomes for the people served.” Our focus during the planning stage has been to understand and address the ways that the model will impact the financial stability and health of nonprofits that participate in the pilot.
Charter School Finance
Based on our substantial experience providing loans, training, and financial advice to charter schools in Minnesota, NAF took a leadership role in understanding and working to solve financial problems caused by budget actions taken by the state. We initiated discussions to raise the issue to a broader level and conducted a survey to determine the cost of the shift and the impact on educational programs. In March 2011, the survey resulted in a report, State Education Funding Shift Has a Disparate Impact on Minnesota Charter Schools, that was instrumental in legislative action to reduce the burden.
State Budget and Government Shutdown 2011
From July 1st to July 20th, 2011, the State of Minnesota endured the longest government shutdown in recent history. In the months leading up to the budget impasse NAF was involved in a range of efforts to both prevent the shutdown and to understand how a full or partial state government shutdown would impact nonprofits. Helping nonprofits to assess the impact and prepare contingency plans was a priority via Emergency State Shutdown briefings in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
At the federal level, Nonprofits Assistance Fund receives federal support through grants, private sector incentives and government guarantees to help leverage substantially greater amounts of private capital for loans to nonprofits. This funding is available to NAF as a community development financial institution (CDFI) certified by the US Department of Treasury. We participate in industry wide advocacy and knowledge sharing with our CDFI peers and as a member of Opportunity Finance Network.