Advocacy Agenda

Federal and State Public Policy Issues 

Each year, in consultation with Together SC's Advocacy Allies peer network and its leadership team, Together SC's board of directors reviews and adopts an Advocacy Agenda. Issues are separated in to areas where Together SC will lead, support, and monitor - helping Together SC allocate appropriate resources behind various issues based on its impact to the sector.

As South Carolina’s only statewide nonprofit membership organization, Together SC supports the nonprofits within the state through a variety of program offerings, including advocacy. Together SC’s Board of Directors has approved a Public Policy & Advocacy Policy (Policy 4.A.3), giving the organization the ability and charge to conduct advocacy.

Furthermore, the Together SC Board of Directors has also approved a set of Advocacy Principles which provide a clear and concise metric to guide on what issues Together SC will advocate for, or against. Those principles are as follows: 

  1. Whole Sector Impact - Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact the entire nonprofit or charitable industry, either uniquely as a sector, or collectively as a member of the business community at-large?
  2. Charitable Status / Tax Impact - Does the legislative issue have the potential to alter existing tax codes, reporting requirements, or other related filings specific to the charitable sector?
  3. Equity & Social Justice - Does the legislative issue have the potential to strengthen or impede nonprofit organizations’ ability to advance equity and breakdown systems of racial and social injustice within their community? Does it help strengthen, or does it weaken, their ability to operate and /or deliver services equitably within their community?
  4. Democratic Processes - Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact election law or related matters?
  5. Together SC Impact - Does the legislative issue have the potential to impact Together SC’s specific and unique operations?

2020-2021 Together SC Advocacy Agenda

Issues On Which to Lead

Issues in this category are identified by Together SC as of the highest priority, and where the organization feels it can adequately and effectively lead on all matters of advocacy. Issues should have more detailed actions than other categories. While the issues may not have direct legislation attached, Together SC stands ready to take the lead on these issues should the opportunity arise.

I. COVID Relief for Nonprofits
Type: General Issue

Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1)

Together SC played an integral role in securing $25 million from South Carolina’s CARES Act allocation for nonprofit grants. Data from that program showed a greater need than there were funds available ($75 million requested from almost 1,600 organizations). Additional support for the charitable sector is needed as organizations have either been shuttered for months, or have seen dramatic increases in demand for services.

 
II. Nonprofit Oversight & Engagement with State Agencies

Type: General Issue

Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1)

Together SC will support policies that make nonprofit engagement with state agencies more efficient. Additionally, Together SC will advocate for nonprofit-friendly positions on issues related to the oversight of nonprofits via reporting, applications, or governance policies. This includes greater transparency from government agencies around selection for projects or grants, earmarks, and similar processes.

Target Actions:

  • Support full exemption of 501(c)3 nonprofits from state and local taxes and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs).
  • Defend against the circumvention of tax exemption through creation of fees not levied on non-exempt businesses, or the relabeling of taxes as fees on nonprofits.
  • Ensure Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) amendments do not place additional burdens on nonprofit organizations different from other types of businesses.
  • Support greater transparency for budgetary earmarks.
  • Ask Legislative Audit Council to review issues with contracts between state agencies and nonprofits.

Issues to Support

Issues in this category are usually, but not always, more detailed, potentially with legislation already filed or a process laid out.

I. Federal: National Council of Nonprofits Advocacy Agenda

Type: Platform
Lead Organization: National Council of Nonprofits
Together SC Position: In Favor
Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1), Charitable Status / Tax Impact (2)

The National Council of Nonprofits, of which Together SC is a member, leads the sector in federal advocacy. As such, Together SC wholly supports their federal agenda. That agenda includes the following focus areas:

  • Tax Policy: Empowering Community Solutions through Nonprofits
  • Budget & Spending: Addressing Community Needs
  • The Economy: Strengthening Communities through Job Creation and Economic Development
  • Public-Private Collaborations for the Public Good
  • Advocacy Rights: Promoting Civic Engagement
  • Public Accountability and Nonprofit Independence: Ensuring Public Trust

The full agenda can be found online at councilofnonprofits.org/public-policy-agenda.

II. Pay Equity

Type: Legislation (H.3183)
Lead Organization: WREN - Womens' Rights and Empowerment Network
Together SC Position: In Favor
Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1), Equity & Social Justice (3)

The Pay Equity Act would prevent employers from paying employees less than those doing comparable work based on sex, race, gender, religion, disability, or national origin. This bill would encourage equitable practices of all employers - including nonprofit organizations.

III. Hate Crime Bill

Type: Legislation (H.3620)
Lead Organization: Multiple
Together SC Position: In Favor
 
Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1), Equity & Social Justice (3)

The Hate Crime Bill creates penalties for violent crimes committed against individuals who were targeted “...in whole or in part because of the person's belief or perception regarding the victim's race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability, whether or not the perception is correct…”       


IV. Increased Broadband Access

Type: Issue
Lead Organization: Multiple
Together SC Position: In Favor
Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1)

Access to quality and reliable internet is vital to many sectors within the nonprofit industry, as well as to the operations of nonprofits. Telehealth, education, job training and access, and business operations in the 21st century depend on access to broadband internet.

V. Childcare Access & Expansion

Type: Issue
Lead Organization: United Way, Institute for Child Success
Together SC Position: In Favor
Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1), Equity & Social Justice (3)

Our economy is built on access to childcare - for community members and also nonprofit employees. Increased access and availability to quality, safe, and effective childcare will provide stability at home and at work for all South Carolinians.


Issues to Monitor

Many issues in this category are not yet fully defined. Once the Legislature, or relevant state agency, develops a more definitive process or proposal, Together SC may elevate these issues to “Support” or “Lead”.

I. Redistricting

Advocacy Principles: Equity & Social Justice (3), Democratic Processes (4)

Nonprofits, led by Together SC, played a critical role in ensuring South Carolinians, particularly those historically and inequitably under-counted, participated in the Census. Once the 2020 Census data has been released, the SC Legislature will begin the process of redistricting. Together SC should monitor the process to identify if any opportunities exist for nonprofit voices to be part of the process, and to inform membership so they can monitor the issue locally.

II. Pandemic Response

Advocacy Principles: Whole Sector Impact (1)

Together SC will monitor the state, and nation’s, continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic on many fronts, and support those efforts that have the potential to positively impact a nonprofit’s ability to operate safely, reach those in need, and increase access to resources related to the pandemic. Some of these anticipated responses include:

  • Vaccine Distribution, Administration, and Access
  • Financial Relief Packages
  • Mandated Operational Adjustments
  • Access to Safety Equipment     

III. Flagged Legislation

Together SC regularly monitors legislation filed at the SC Statehouse and flags relevant bills that have the potential to impact the field. There are numerous bills flagged. Once legislative action begins to take place on any flagged bills, they may move to be highlighted in any of the Advocacy Agenda categories. A full, updated, list of flagged legislation can be found on Together SC’s website.