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Following the Currents that Guide Florida's Future
What do Florida's non-profits want to see out of this year's legislative session?
Joe Saunders
It seems there are as many kinds of non-profit groups in Florida as there are the kinds of people they help. And you can find that diversity reflected in the different expectations for the legislature. From general priorities to some very specific legislation, the needs of organizations included this week range widely but give us a starting point in answering this question: What do Florida's non-profits want to see out of this year's session?
Dan Samborn
State Relations Representative, Florida Red Cross

For more than 130 years, the mission of the American Red Cross has been to prevent, and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Every day through the Red Cross, people mobilize to help their neighbors, whether they are down the street, across the nation or around the globe. A half million volunteers and more than 30,000 employees of the Red Cross, many from communities like yours, help provide these life-changing and often lifesaving services

The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on generous donations of time, money and blood to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

On average, more than 4 million people each year take Red Cross CPR, AED and first aid training. By taking training, they are empowered with the skills and confidence to act in an emergency situation until advanced medical help arrives.

Red Cross training saves lives.

Accidents and emergencies can happen at school, at home and out in our community. According to an American Red Cross survey, 1 in 4 people have been in a situation where someone needed CPR. Every year, more than 300,000 people in the United States die of sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime without warning. Due to these factors, we urge the Florida legislature to pass important legislation that requires cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for high school students.

Having students trained in how to prevent and respond to emergencies is an asset at any school, household or community.

The greatest chance of survival from cardiac arrest occurs when the Cardiac Chain of Survival happens as quickly as possible. The chain of survival includes: early recognition, early access to advance medical care, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced medical care.

Performing CPR increases a cardiac victim’s chances of survival by keeping the brain and other vital organs supplied with oxygen until the victim receives advanced medical care.

Exposure at an early age to training is also an important opportunity for the Red Cross to educate high school students on the benefits of a lifetime of committed service to the community. It will give students an opportunity to participate in an important civic duty.

In addition to saving lives, students can include their Red Cross training on scholarship and job applications, and on their resumes

If this bill is enacted, Florida will be joining Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin that have already taken this important step to educate students on critical Health and Safety training

Enacting SB302 will have a positive impact on our communities. Thank you for your consideration and I hope you will enact this important legislation as it will help us to continue to fulfill our mission to important lifesaving skill.

Lizabeth Moody
Dean Emeritus, Stetson University College of Law

In 1840, a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville made a tour of the United States (then a young country.) He became an early observer of the lives and activities of the Colonists and wrote “Democracy in America,” still a classic of the period.

In it, he devoted with great praise the associations (mostly nonprofit) organized by the citizens representing “Liberty” at its best. In his book he wrote:

“Americans of all ages, all conditions and all dispositions constantly form associations … associations of a thousand kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive ...Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.”

Early in the 19th Century, the States began to allow these associations to be formed as “nonprofit” corporations and in the 20th Century almost every state passed general laws for incorporation under model acts.

Nonprofits come in a variety of flavors: corporations, limited liability companies, condominiums, unincorporated organizations, charitable trusts. States generally have passed legislation governing these organization. Today, nonprofit entities constitute 30 percent of the U.S. economy.

They include: religious organizations. Service providers of health and education, social and legal services , civic and social activities and arts and culture.

For example, nonprofit enterprises employ one out of seven workers in Massachusetts; in Ohio, the second largest employer is the Cleveland Clinic.

The nonprofit corporation is not the same as the business corporation. States have also given their attorneys general supervisory powers over these organizations.

There are other supplementary laws passed by the various states, and in each state, laws have been passed exempting nonprofit organizations from taxation. In these statutes, distinction are made among the organizations: some are charitable, which allow deductions by those who contribute funds to the organization. Others allow only the organization to be exempt from taxes on gifts and related profits, etc.

Nonprofit organizations are unique in the world, although some former Communist countries are attempting to support such efforts. As de Tocqueville pointed out, in other countries, the State controls these activities.

Today, both state and federal governments are looking to increase revenues and are casting their claws toward profits of large organizations, such as hospitals.

There is one Florida hospital that was a public entity and a disgrace. Having been converted to a nonprofit corporation governed by volunteers under Florida law, it is now one of the highest rated hospitals in the state.

Although much of the attention is being given to the IRS, where limitations on executive salaries is sure to affect donations to nonprofits, particularly art and culture nonprofits, states may also extend their revenues by the limitation of exemptions and increase of sales and use taxes, beginning to tax real estate of religious organizations and organizations such as private schools.

There has also been assertions that nonprofits organized under the state’s law that provide services under the state’s nonprofit corporation law should be treated as business corporations for tax purposes.

If the changes in nonprofit taxes are carried out, it is unlikely that the public will receive more services and likely that the country will be harmed by the great loss of its volunteer core.

Rene Coughlin
CEO, Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida

"Charities can be and should be important sources of information on legislative issues.”

-- Sen. Robert Dole on the 1976 Lobby Law

In Florida, more than 75,000 nonprofit organizations1 serve more than 18 million residents.2

Increasingly nonprofits are taking a seat at the policy table in order to preserve resources and promote community interests. With an in-depth understanding of diverse populations and on-the-ground expertise, nonprofits are uniquely qualified to help elected officials make informed decisions.

More than “nice to have”, Florida nonprofits fuel a “must have” industry and powerful economic engine. According to a Florida Philanthropic Network report conducted by Dr. Lester Salamon at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Civil Society:

  • Florida’s nonprofit sector collected $48 billion in revenue in 2005.
  • The sector employs 630,000 paid and volunteer employees.
  • The nonprofit sector is Florida’s fourth-largest industry.

The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida is a member-based 501(c)3 organization that connects, strengthens, and advocates for more than 1,000 local nonprofits. Current legislative priorities for 2013 include:

Improving the Local Public Grant-Making Process

In northeast Florida, local elected officials and nonprofits alike recognize that excessive red-tape, duplicative processes and requirements, and a flawed contract and reimbursement system often mean serious slow-downs and extra administrative costs for nonprofits, wasting dollars that should go to service delivery. The Nonprofit Center and dozens of area organizations are working together with elected officials and staff to streamline processes and improve outcomes for the community.

Protecting Nonprofits from “Clawbacks”

The 2009 Bernie Madoff scandal brought heightened attention to charitable donations made by individuals later accused of fraud. Efforts to “clawback” these donations, sometimes years after they were received in good faith, can potentially put a nonprofit in financial peril. In Florida, legislation to protect nonprofits from these “clawbacks,” died in session last year. The Nonprofit Center is supporting legislation again this year that would offer this protection to nonprofits.

Preserving the Federal Charitable Deduction

The Nonprofit Center opposes capping or cutting the charitable deduction. For 10 yearswe’ve tracked the fiscal health of nonprofits in Northeast Florida. As of our latest data review, 41 percent of charitable service nonprofits ended their most recent fiscal year with a deficit.

Increased demand, decreased donations, and deep government cuts have significantly eroded the nonprofit sector’s capacity and reserves. Florida’s tax-exempt charitable organizations have been particularly hard hit in a state reeling from foreclosures and high unemployment. Florida’s nonprofits have struggled – but largely succeeded – to meet growing community needs with diminished financial resources. Now is not the time to tinker with one of the sector’s most important giving incentives.

For more information on these and other advocacy efforts, please visit www.NonprofitCtr.org or contact the Nonprofit Center at 904-390-3222 or [email protected].

Ted Granger
President, United Way of Florida

Florida’s 33 United Ways lead the state in investing private contributions, generously provided by people from all walks of life, in health, education, income, and safety net initiatives that improve the lives of individuals and families – and entire communities – every day. United Ways are local people solving local problems with local solutions; people and communities that Live United.

As with other for-profit and non-profit businesses, the decisions made by government at all levels affect the ability of United Ways and communities to implement solutions to their problems. Laws, rules, regulations, policies and appropriations have an enormous impact on how – and if – United Way can move forward with community leaders and partners to successfully address some of the biggest challenges facing our state.

United Way supports a range of issues to advance its mission. The 2013 Florida United Way Consensus Legislative Agenda represents the priorities that Florida’s United Ways will focus on during the 2013 Florida legislative session.

Early learning

More than 85 percent of the foundation for communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork – skills that employers nationwide cite as critical to workplace success – is developed by age 5. Research shows that investing early yields incomparable returns. Yet school readiness funding has declined by almost $100 million since 2001.

Over the past five years, Early Learning Coalitions, in collaboration with local partners, have added approximately $248 million to federal and state dollars for school readiness programs and have been the linchpins for quality, and parent and provider support.

Attendance in high-quality after-school programs is associated with significant increases in reading and academic performance, attendance, positive behaviors, and parent workplace productivity. Florida's United Ways urge the 2013 Florida Legislature to:

  • Provide adequate and equitable funding for Florida’s School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten programs;
  • Support continued local control and oversight. Local authority provides transparency, leverages significant additional resources, and targets funding for quality and slots to address individual community needs;
  • Define “Early Learning” to include children up to 8 years of age.


In 2011, the Florida Coalition for the Homeless reported that the Sunshine State was in the midst of a homeless epidemic.

Unfortunately, the situation has not improved.

In its 2012 report, FCH reported Floridians that:

56,680 school-aged children were identified as homeless in the 2010-2011school year in our state; a 15 percent increase from 2009-2010.

Florida has the third highest number of homeless persons by state in our country, with over 54,000 persons homeless on any given day (not including the almost 50,000 school-age children).

Family homelessness is the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Floridians who have families and lost their jobs due to the failing economy are making up the vast majority of the persons experiencing homelessness.

The $3 million invested by the Florida Legislature to address homelessness in 2011 provided safe housing to 22,050 people in 67 homeless facilities across the state, assisted 6,627 people with short-term financial aid to enable them to remain in their current housing, and provided essential services such as meals, transportation, and health care to almost 33,000 people through Homeless Housing Assistance Grants

The funds were also used to leverage an additional $85-plus million in grants statewide by providing funding for Florida’s 28 local homeless coalitions.

Florida’s United Ways urge the 2013 Florida Legislature to appropriate at least $3 million to fund Homeless Coalition staff and Homeless Housing Assistance Grants across the state.

Home and Community-Based Care for the Elderly

The percentage of elders living in Florida is higher than in any other state, with almost 1 out of every 6 Florida residents being 65 years old or older: 17.2 percent (3.3 million) of the state’s 18.8 million residents. By 2030, that percentage is expected to swell to 27 percent.

The annual cost for nursing home care is between $55,000 and $75,000, and is increasing every year. As these costs outpace the ability of people to pay, less costly community-based alternatives have become more in demand. The two most cost-effective community-based programs are Community Care for the Elderly and Home Care for the Elderly. These programs are not funded by Medicaid. They are state-funded programs that assist frail elders who are ineligible for Medicaid to remain in their homes and in other less restrictive settings for as long as possible, thereby enhancing their quality of life and avoiding costly nursing home placements.

CCE and HCE not only allow seniors to maintain a higher quality of life, help them maintain their dignity, and employ thousands of Floridians, they also cost far less than nursing home care. Investing our resources in these services saves taxpayer dollars.

Projections show that if the 667 seniors on the community care for the elderly waiting list who were placed into nursing homes at a cost of $17 million in 2010-11 had instead been provided community care services at a cost of $3.5 million, taxpayers would have saved $13.5 million

Likewise, the state would have saved $2 million had the 92 seniors on the HCE wait list been provided HCE services costing $333,000 rather than being placed into nursing homes at a total cost of $2.3 million.

Florida's United Ways urge the 2013 Florida Legislature to maximize funding for community care for the elderly and home care for the elderly. KidCare

The 1998 Florida Legislature passed the Florida KidCare Act, intended to provide health-care coverage to uninsured children ages 0-19 with family incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. KidCare includes four different health programs.

Still, an estimated 579,000 Florida children were uninsured in 2011, including 358,000 low-income children who were income-eligible for coverage through some component of KidCare. A number of administrative and policy barriers can be removed from KidCare to increase the number of children with health care coverage, most of which were recommended by the Florida KidCare Coordinating Council in its 2012 Summary of Recommendations.

These include: extending coverage to lawfully residing immigrants, implementing a “no wrong door” law requiring Florida agencies to update and coordinate enrollment and eligibility systems, reinstating and implementing presumptive eligibility for all KidCare program components, and restoring funding for community outreach.

Florida’s United Ways urge the 2013 Florida Legislature to support efforts to ensure all children have health-care coverage.

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