Public Policy & Advocacy

Giving Hawai‘i Nonprofits a Voice in Decision Making

Public policy affecting nonprofit organizations, whether at the federal, state or local level, is ever-changing. HANO can help you stay up-to-date on what you need to know.

Before HANO came to be in 2006, there was no sector-level voice at the decision-making table when nonprofit policy issues were discussed. HANO has emerged as the nonprofit sector advocate – tracking the issues, weighing in on the side of nonprofits and introducing or supporting policies that improve the operating environment for more than 7,000 nonprofits statewide.

Governments, hard-pressed to identify new revenue sources, have been looking closer at the nonprofit sector as a source for making up their budget deficits, devolving services they previously provided to the nonprofit sector. Their policy efforts can either enhance or hinder the nonprofit sector’s ability to deliver on the many missions that strengthen communities. Recently, disturbing trends across the nation remind us that nonprofits are not immune from government efforts to increase nonprofit taxation, remove nonprofit tax-exemptions, expand regulations and delay or reduce payments on government contracts. Good public policy and advocacy  on the part of nonprofits can improve what should be a partnership with the government.

HANO has moved the advocacy needle for Hawai‘i nonprofits by:

  • Reinforcing the value and importance of Hawaiʻi’s nonprofit sector as a partner to business and government in strengthening communities. 
  • Tracking legislative proposals that hinder or help nonprofits in the areas of taxes, tax exemptions, regulations, philanthropy, and governance.
  • Addressing government contracting challenges for streamlined service delivery

Most nonprofits don’t have the time or resources to devote to sector-level issues despite the impact these issues can have on their missions. HANO’s bird’s eye view of the policy arena is an important perspective to inform the strategic advocacy of community building organizations. Join HANO now to strengthen our collective voice.

  • To unite and strengthen the nonprofit sector as a collective force to improve the quality of life in Hawai‘i
  • To build the capacity of the nonprofit sector in Hawai‘i to monitor and take action on public policy issues which affect the sector
  • To educate the public on the importance of Hawaiʻi’s charitable nonprofit sector
  • To promote public policies that allow Hawai‘i nonprofits to thrive and serve their communities

HANO works to foster an environment that allows and supports Hawai‘i nonprofits to thrive and effectively serve their communities. To that end we work within the following policy guidelines:

  1. Advocacy:  Advocacy is an important role of the nonprofit sector. Advocacy is a vehicle through which nonprofits engage in the democratic process. Advocacy assists nonprofits to achieve their missions.
    • HANO encourages the advocacy activities of its members and the sector.
    • HANO supports policies and proposals and provides tools that build the capacity of nonprofits to advocate.
    • HANO encourages policies, regulations and proposals that seek the voice of nonprofits on public policies.
    • HANO advocates on behalf of nonprofits on selected issues that impact the sector.
  2. Accountability:  Nonprofits serve the community and as a result should function with integrity and efficiency and should address violations within the sector. HANO supports an appropriate level of government regulation and enforcement to protect the public’s interest while upholding the integrity of the nonprofit sector.
    • HANO promotes vigilance in maintaining excellence in the sector and promoting the highest level of accountability within the sector.
    • HANO works to strengthen the management capacity of nonprofits.
    • HANO encourages nonprofits to speak out against abuses of trust within the sector and hold violators accountable for their actions.
  3. Tax Policy:  Taxes and tax policy are important to nonprofits because taxes finance government programs and services, many of which are delivered by nonprofits or received directly by those served by nonprofits. Tax policy can also serve as an incentive for giving to charitable organizations.
    • HANO supports policies that protect the tax-exempt status of nonprofits.
    • HANO opposes tax initiatives that would result in dividing 501(c)(3) organizations based on subject matter and philosophy.
    • HANO supports tax policies that increase charitable support for the sector.
  4. The essential role of government:  It is the role and duty of government to provide for and promote the safety, prosperity and general welfare of its citizens. Nonprofits reduce the burden of government and receive tax-free status in return. The nonprofit community is dedicated to the same goals of public service and should be a leader in advocating for policies that recognize and support the fulfillment of this primary mission of government.
    • HANO supports government budget and fiscal policies that provide sufficient resources to meet the responsibilities of government as it addresses the quality of life in Hawaiʻi and the nonprofit sector fairly, efficiently and accountably.
    • HANO opposes policies that place unnecessary burdens on the contractual relationship between government and nonprofit service providers.
    • HANO supports activities that strengthen nonprofits’ relationships with federal, state, county and local governments.
  5. Charitable giving and volunteerism:  Public policy should recognize and support the important roles of volunteer service and private philanthropy in improving the lives of citizens and the quality of life in Hawai‘i.
    • HANO supports public policy that increases the number of volunteers.
    • HANO opposes public policy that places undo burden on organizations that effectively utilize volunteers.
    • In addition to favorable tax policy, HANO supports public policy that assists fundraising and increases charitable giving to the sector.
  • Fit: Does the issue or initiative match the mission of HANO and its members and fit within HANO’s advocacy guidelines?
  • Impact: Does the issue or initiative have significant implications for HANO members and/or Hawai‘i nonprofit organizations?
  • Support: Is there, or do we reasonably anticipate that there will be, general informed support for the proposed position among the members of the Hawai‘i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations?
  • Credibility: Will HANO be perceived as a legitimately concerned and appropriate advocate for the position to be taken?

Responsibility: The president will act on initiatives based on the criteria above and consult with the Advocacy and Public Policy Committee, Executive Committee or Board as needed when there are questions or concerns.