New Web Site Lets Nonprofits Advocate for Nonprofits

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Two major umbrella nonprofit associations have begun advocating not for such traditional issues as animal or children's rights but for the nonprofit sector itself.

Independent Sector, an association of national nonprofits, and the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, an organization of statewide nonprofits, recently opened, a Web site where they can lobby the government on issues that concern how nonprofits function.

One such issue nonprofits consider vital is nonitemizer charitable deductions, which allow people filling out the income tax short form to deduct gifts to charitable organizations.

On the Web site, visitors can read about such issues, then take action by sending e-mail messages to the appropriate policy-makers. But the site itself is only a small part of the nonprofits' initiative.

The heart of GiveVoice is the LocusPocus GetActive software, which allows Independent Sector, the NCNA and their partners to customize e-mail ActionAlerts to the 20,000 nonprofit CEOs and executive directors on their combined database.

The e-mails send recipients to a Take Action page that resides on the LocusPocus URL but has "the look and feel of the organizations," said Sheeraz Haji, vice president of business development at LocusPocus.

Visitors can find out more information about the issue, edit the letter and send it to the designated policy-maker. Users who have sent a letter before need only to enter their e-mail address. The Take Action page also allows visitors to forward the e-mail to a friend or colleague.

More than 500 member organizations have sent e-mails to President Bush advocating the nonitemizer charitable deduction since the site went live about a month ago, Haji said.

On the individual organization's page, a "join" function allows visitors to sign up their organization and a "tell-a-friend" function lets them offer that opportunity to a friend or colleague. So far, Independent Sector, the NCNA and their partners have acquired more than 3,300 new members, Haji said.


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