The Culture We’ve Been Looking For

By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Advocacy & Legislative Affairs, Goodwill Industries International

A few years ago I wrote a blog about why Goodwill® needs a lobbyist. I talked about our public policy priorities, the work of our government relations team, and the role that advocates can play. As a social services provider that most people know for donated goods stores, it’s been challenging for the public to also recognize Goodwill as an organization that can influence public policy and raise concerns on behalf of those who feel they don’t have a voice. Since then, I’ve been stressing the need for a “culture of advocacy” throughout the Goodwill network.

I think it’s fair to say we now have one, although I wish it was fully realized under better circumstances.

As previously reported, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in Congress recently and was signed into law. The Act contains a number of provisions that are helpful to nonprofits like Goodwill. Goodwill Industries International worked with a coalition of nonprofit partners and enlisted our advocates to request that there be:

  • Funding designated for nonprofits
  • Incentives for charitable giving
  • Access to Small Business Administration (SBA) funds
  • Tax incentives that would be applicable to nonprofits

With the support of our advocates, we received:

  •  The ability to receive Economic Stability Fund loans for nonprofits of 500-10,000 employees
  • A universal charitable deduction of $300 that can be taken by all taxpayers
  • The Paycheck Protection Program for nonprofits of fewer than 500 employees administered by the SBA
  • Payroll tax credits for employee retention, the ability to defer social security tax payments, and a reimbursement of half of the costs associated with unemployment insurance benefits

Local Goodwill leaders leveraged relationships of their Boards in reaching out to lawmakers, and some were able to connect with lawmakers who have been dubbed champions for Goodwill in the past. Years of cultivating relationships have paid off.

We were also amazed by the response to our grassroots advocacy efforts that were put into action. In working within our coalition, thousands of letters sent to every member of Congress, hundreds of nonprofits signed a letter endorsing our asks, and #Relief4Charities was trending on twitter in the DC area.

Thank you for helping us amplify our efforts and truly create a culture of advocacy.

Now is the time to thank lawmakers for passing the CARES Act. Our work is far from over as another Congressional relief package is being discussed and Goodwills will need continued support in order to stand ready to help America’s workers as we move towards recovery. Stay tuned for additional grassroots advocacy efforts as future legislation comes together so we can build upon the provisions provided in the CARES Act.