Research - What are your Needs?

Dear Accord Member,
 
Exciting things are happening in the Accord Research Alliance (ARA), and we need your help to know how to serve you better! We’d like to ask you to participate in the Accord Research Project. To begin, please follow this link to fill out our survey.
 
The ARA is growing quickly. More Christian researchers and institutions of higher education are getting involved and new partnerships are being formed. The result is that the ARA is increasing its potential to do the kinds of research, training, and evaluation that matter to faith-based NGOs. And like Nehemiah in the research he did to prepare for the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, ARA members seek God’s glory first and foremost through their research and other academic initiatives.
 
To harness the ARA’s potential and to make sure that our efforts are relevant to the challenges faced by Accord member organizations, we are conducting the Accord Research Project. We want to learn more about the current research practices and needs of Accord organizations. We are interested in knowing the kinds of questions and concerns that you have as well as the strategies and resources that you find most useful. Such information will help those who are active in the ARA to be better partners and collaborators.
 
We expect the survey to take 15-20 minutes to complete. You’ll find an informed consent form and specific details about the survey when you click on the link. The survey will remain open until August 25, 2017. Once you have completed the survey, we may also ask if you would be willing to participate in a follow up phone interview.
 
We will present our preliminary findings at the 2017 OneAccord Forum, to be held Oct. 9-11 in Ridgecrest, NC. You can find more information about the Forum here:  http://accord-forum.squarespace.com/
 
More formal publications will soon follow. Our hope is that the project will provide useful information and learnings for everyone in the Accord Network.
 
If you believe that there is another person in your organization that is equally or better placed to discuss these issues we are happy to extend a survey invitation to that person as well. Please just provide us with his or her name and email address.
 
Thank you so much for your willingness to help us in this process. Together, we can prayerfully and, God-willing, more effectively do the work to which we have been called.
 
 
In Christ,
Chad Hayward, Executive Director, Accord Network
Kristen Check (Water Mission) Co-Chair, Accord Research Alliance
Rodney Green (World Relief) Co-Chair, Accord Research Alliance
Jamie D. Aten (Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Wheaton College)
David Bronkema (Palmer Theological Seminary, Eastern University)
Jesse Casler (HOPE International) Board Member, Accord Network
Stephen Offutt (Asbury Theological Seminary) Academic Engagement Facilitator, Accord Research Alliance
Amy Reynolds (Wheaton College)
Randall Tift (World Vision) Board Member, Accord Network

DC Fly-in Invitation

Dear Accord Member,

As a part of Accord’s United Voice platform, lawmakers in Washington, DC are interested in what our organizations have to say about policy and foreign assistance particularly.

In partnership with Food for the Hungry and other Accord members, you or someone from your executive leadership team is invited to join us on Oct. 3rd at 8:00 a.m. for the Congressional Child Survival Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill to celebrate what the faith community is doing to advance child survival, pray for our continued efforts and educate our national leaders about the most vulnerable around the world. After the breakfast, you will join a small delegation representing Accord agencies to meet with with key Congressional offices to ask for their continued support of modest yet vital foreign assistance programs.

Through the generosity of some private donors, assistance with travel costs is available if needed; we believe your voice is that critical.

Yes, I am interested in coming to Washington, DC to participate in the Congressional Child Survival Prayer Breakfast Oct. 3rd!

I can’t make it to come to Washington, DC Oct. 3rd, but please keep me in mind for future opportunities!

RSVP Deadline is September 15th!

Supporting foreign assistance is a non-partisan issue. You don’t have to be a policy expert and you don’t have to consider yourself particularly political. But your organization brings a valuable perspective on addressing extreme poverty and you have an important story to share.

Thank you for your commitment to our shared mission. Please let me know if have any questions.

Yes, I am interested.

I can't make it, but keep me in mind.

Best,

Chad Hayward
Executive Director
Accord Network

Please read this document back end details for fly-in participants.docx for related details!

Accord Gives Input to USAID Redesign

On July 25th, USAID and the State Department invited members of Accord Network, MFAN, and InterAction to participate in a fact finding and informational exchange meeting.  Their goal was to gain input on ways to improve the organizations' efficiency and effectiveness.

The first of several sessions of its kind, USAID and State Department allowed 12-15 individuals from each network to attend and voice their concerns, submit structural ideas, and comment on proposed changes to the agency.

Accord Network brought in eight member organizations, including ADRA, Faith to Action, Food for the Hungry, Medical Teams, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, World Hope, World Relief, and World Vision. The focus of our members’ comments centered around three key issues:

  1. The faith community is critical to helping the US Foreign policy apparatus achieve its goals, and needs to be prioritized.

  2. Over the past decade, USAID has prioritized local partners on the ground, but have either worked with them directly, or have utilized a large contractor to manage the relationships. We encouraged the officials use the relationships that our members bring to the table.

  3. Food for Peace is an effective program and should not be restructured.

The most interesting things we learned from the USAID and State Department leaders were:

  1. This process is being led solely by staff.

  2. There are six categories being looked at by teams of approximately 5-25 people each.

  3. The process will be lengthy:  The Redesign teams will submit to OMB in September, and OMB will have six months to review.  

  4. The specifics of the review will have “varying degrees of transparency.”

In my view, the most helpful comments from other participants were the need for the teams to be given a “North Star,” or overarching priority.  Also the need to wrestle with the concept of “effectiveness” vs. “efficiency.”  

Earlier this summer, Accord partnered with World Relief to produce a document that outlines ways that the the USG foreign aid apparatus could better work with FBOs in the areas of funding mechanisms and internal policies. This document was made available to the officials present following the meeting.

While the priorities and focuses of USAID and the State Department are at this point fairly embryonic, Accord is confident that our relationships and influence there are only growing, and that we will continue to be a part of the conversation moving forward. We are committed to representing the interests our members well to those in charge of restructuring USAID. Please let Jon or me know how we can better serve you in this way.

Tax Reform--Its Impact On Us

I want to pass along information from Brian Walsh, executive director of the Faith & Giving Coalition, of which Accord Network is a part. This is of great importance to our ministries.

Status
With the talk of chaos in DC, its easy to lose sight of the fact that White House and Congress are in the hands of the same party, and ideas and legislation are moving forward.  The Administration touts that their tax reform plan won't touch the charitable deduction.  This is true, but only technically.  When it comes to the current proposal for tax reform, I want us to keep one fact in mind--under current law, almost 1/3 of Americans itemize their taxes, but under the current plan before Congress, an estimated 28 million Americans would no longer benefit from the charitable deduction.  This is due to a proposed doubling of the standard deduction, as well as a reduction in the top tax rate.

An Answered Question
I've heard a fair amount of questioning whether a new policy would actually affect the bottom line of religious organizations.  Now we have a newly-minted study conducted by two respected organizations--Independent Sector (IS) and researchers at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.  Their findings espouse that the Trump and House GOP tax reform plans would reduce charitable giving--by an estimated $13 billion.  What's more, the research shows that faith-based organizations and churches are harder hit than other organizations.  

Our Position
The Faith and Giving Coalition--and Accord Network--favor moving the charitable deduction "above the line" on the tax form, thereby making the deduction available to every taxpayer.  The study shows that this "universal deduction" would actually increase giving across the board.

Action
We will continue to watch this issue closely and advocate on your behalf.  And you might want to contact your Senators and Representative--especially if they are on the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.

Suffer the Children

The face of global poverty is at its most hideous when it profoundly affects the world’s children. Millions of children suffer every day to a degree unimaginable. They lack the basic necessities of life, and undergo trials most of us will never face. These are children that live in our own backyards, let alone those living in the Global South. In our information-saturated lives, it is easy to believe that we cannot do anything significant to change these terrible realities. Gary and Jane Smith’s book Suffer the Children disagrees.

Suffer the Children is especially relevant during this time of year, as National Children’s Day, June 11th, approaches. Gary and Jane’s book advocates that you and I can change the fate of many children “through praying, giving generously, sponsoring children, volunteering with aid organizations, living more simply, investing and shopping more prudently, and advocating more zealously in the political arena.” They outline these practical solutions with real examples and data that will push you to get involved, and encourage you to keep striving.

Accord Network is happy to recommend Suffer the Children as a solid resource to better understand child poverty, how to get involved, and what you can specifically do to help.


 

Congressional Fly-in Opportunity

Our friends at Food for the Hungry are offering Accord Members a special opportunity to help promote foreign assistance, including potential funding for your leadership to fly into Washington DC this summer. 

Currently, funding for foreign assistance makes up less than 1% of the Federal budget and is under threat of being cut. Cutting poverty focused relief and development assistance won't fix our federal budget problems, but it will have devastating consequences in the most fragile regions of the world. Many of Accord's membership depend heavily on government grants to function; this issue should be of utmost importance, and the time to act is now.

Because we believe in the power of our member's voices, Accord is partnering with FH to offer a great vehicle to make your voices heard on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress only support foreign assistance programs if they hear that it matters to constituent community leaders like you.

Please take a moment to review this document and RSVP using the link at its conclusion. We look forward to partnering with you, and hope to see you in DC this summer!

Tax Reform: 3 Reasons We Care

It's time to start caring about tax reform and the charitable deduction.  Here's why:

 

1.  Tax Reform Will Happen. Political heavyweights have been talking about tax reform for most of a decade, and its been tempting to dismiss this talk with "It'll never happen".  But here we are: Republicans control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and we must pay attention and make our voice heard.  They've rolled out a plan and consideration is on this year's road map for the House and Senate. I've been told that we should expect to see this idea "die" several times; let's just say that it might die 8 deaths, but have 9 lives.

 

2.  Tax Reform Will Affect Us. Do your donors itemize their donations?  Of course they do.  80% of charitable giving comes from itemizers.  But here is the problem: right now, over 30% of us are able to itemize our taxes, but under current proposals considered by Congress,only 5% of us will do so.  This is due to limitations on the deductions as well as a doubling (sometimes tripling) of the standard deduction.

 

3. We Can Have An Impact. Accord is already engaging on this issue with policymakers in a community called the "Faith and Giving Coalition."  We've met with Members and staff on this issue. We are now told that members of Congress are hearing our concern about freezing out itemizers, and are looking for a fiscally sound plan.  Here's a solution we like:  move charitable giving from a deduction used by itemizers "above the line" reducing any taxpayer's adjusted gross income.  In simple terms, this would give the benefit to everyone.  

 

Expect to hear more on this issue as 2017 rolls on.  There is a chance--more than a small chance--that we will see President Trump sign tax reform into law in front of a Christmas tree.

More Money, More Ministry

Most of the conversation around charitable giving falls into two categories, cash gifts and planned giving. A barbell model illustrates the two main ways of giving – cash gifts now and planned gifts, made after death.

The vast majority of all donations to charity are cash, which is the funding method that nonprofits request most often. Cash gifts and planned giving are important, but there is a third way to give. Your best donors may be able to make non-cash gifts now, while they’re still alive.

Cash typically represents less than 10% of a household’s wealth profile, but is the source for 80% of all charitable contributions. The bulk of a household’s wealth is found in non-cash assets (valuable holdings like real estate, closely-held businesses, and oil and gas and agricultural interests) by tapping into these assets, givers can unlock their giving potential and multiply their giving impact on those churches, ministries, and charities about which they are passionate. 

There are three benefits when nonprofits like yours make non-cash gifts:

1. By giving appreciated assets, givers bypass paying capital gains taxes.
2. Givers receive an immediate tax deduction based on the fair market value of the asset. 
3. Your charity receives much-needed financial resources now.

When we look at the barbell, we should see three sections, cash gifts, planned giving, and gifts of appreciated assets. Next time you plan your next fundraising campaign, don’t just ask supporters to reach for their checkbook. You can unlock the giving potential hidden in their appreciated assets that the Lord has entrusted to them. Through asset-based giving your donors can render more unto God and less to Uncle Sam.

WaterStone helps donors by unlocking their giving potential. We craft innovative giving strategies for donors who own real estate, businesses, oil & gas interests or agricultural commodities.

With WaterStone as your partner it’s a win, win, win: your ministry wins with increased resources, your donors win by saving on taxes and multiplying their giving impact, and in the end, the Kingdom wins.

One phone call can put your ministry on the fast track to multiplying your resources and transforming more lives. 

We invite you to join the WaterStone community of giving and all of us at WaterStone look forward to getting to know you and serving you and your donors at the intersection of faith and finance.

 

 

Will Stevens
Vice President of Giving Strategies, WaterStone
719-447-4620
wills@waterstone.org

Is Accord for Me?

If you're not an Accord Member, you may be asking the question:

"Is Accord for me?"

We are so glad you asked! To help you answer that question, we've compiled a small list of questions other professionals have asked, and our answers to them. Check out each section below - we have questions for leaders and for practitioners. If you like what you see, we would love to have you as a member of our community! Join us!

LEADERS:

  • Do you need to meet more people like you who are doing what you’re doing?
  • Are you a CEO or executive with very specific problems? Do you need professional relationships for support?
  • Do you love your job and your professional community and want to help more? Do you need to “flex your professional muscles” and help produce relevant content? Do you need to make a difference and be involved in your community? Are you passionate about your organization’s mission and want others to know?
    • Join an Alliance! Alliances are small groups of members who specialize in a certain field, collaborating together to be the best in the industry.

PRACTITIONERS:

  • Are you employed at a small nonprofit that doesn’t have a budget for professional development?
    • Attend our biweekly webinars! Webinars are free for members - this includes access to our archive of past webinars too! Whether it be drones in disaster response, implementing integral mission, or building an effective marketing persona, our members are expert webinar hosts. Come learn with the best!
  • Is your inbox swamped with emails and news articles, but you still want to stay in the know about relief and development news?
    • Subscribe to the Thursday Three! Chad is an expert at delivering relevant news to your profession once a week in three short paragraphs. And for subscribing we will give you a free resource!

Whether you are a leader or a practitioner in your organization, you are more than welcome here at Accord. We look forward to hearing from you!

Accord Network Encourages President Trump to Pursue Religious Liberty Legislation

Accord Network is issuing a response to the leaked Executive Order on religious freedom that President Trump is considering signing. Below is a statement from Accord's Executive Director, Chad Hayward, in the form of a letter to the President.


February 14, 2017

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump,

Accord Network wishes to thank you for the language protecting religious freedom in the executive order reportedly under consideration entitled, "Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom." Accord Network further wishes to encourage you to marshal this commitment and energy in favor of legislation that will stand to protect religious freedom for years to come.

Strong religious liberty protections help ensure a thriving society, and specific legislation in support of religious liberty would be a productive step forward. The executive order in question reportedly broadly defines “faith-based organizations” so that none are excluded on a technicality. Further, the order affords faith-based organizations the integrity to hire based upon the tenets of their faith. Finally, the executive order would strengthen and shield faith based organizations--our member organizations--from unnecessary infringement upon their tax-exempt status or charitable deduction, both of which are vital to their ability to effectively help the world’s poor.

We do not believe that these freedoms must come at the expense of others, and believe that your administration, working with Congress, can lead the way to a stable consensus that enables American citizens and organizations to be good neighbors to each other, notwithstanding our differences.

While Accord Network strongly supports your efforts in the reported executive order, we believe that more permanent action is necessary to solidify the protection of religious liberty for our members in a way that will survive many administrations to come. We look forward to working with your administration to accomplish these objectives.

Sincerely,

 

Chad Hayward
Executive Director
Accord Network

Accord Network is an association of more than 80 US-based Christian relief and development organizations with $4.4 billion in combined budget, 110,000 employees and millions of American donors. accordnetwork.org