During Summer 2016 a California legislator dropped a bomb on the Christian college community across the country. In the bill, the legislator proposed several measures that would cut state education grant money to students who attend colleges with discriminatory practices or beliefs. The measure was directly aimed at those colleges whose views on human sexuality are contrary to those of state leaders.
After a public outcry, the bill was withdrawn, but the legislator warned that further legislative action would be proposed in the future.
Recently I’ve interviewed many Christian higher education leaders. And several leaders said that given the moral climate and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriage, it’s a matter of when” not “if” governments (local, state and federal) will punish Christian institutions who hold biblical views of human sexuality.
Who’s at Risk?
Those who accept government grants are most at risk. Your ministry may not take government grant money, but all ministries do rely on their tax-exempt status granted by the government in seeking funding from donors. And the Internal Revenue Service which grants this status has shown willingness to discriminate against some nonprofits it deems “out of the mainstream.” So, at some level, all Christian ministries are at risk.
Looking at long-term trends, Christian ministry leaders and their Boards need to be aware of what might happen. The question is: Are you and your Board members discussing this issue and making contingency plans, or are you taking a “wait and see” approach? We think the latter strategy is very risky and we’d like to help you prepare with the four steps below.
4 Steps to Prepare Your Christian School
In a recent survey of Christian college leaders, 70% said they rely on direct government funding of some kind. But when asked whether they have a contingency plan to replace government funding if it were cut off because of the college’s beliefs, only 23% said they do.
So, what should Christian ministries do to face the challenge of possible cuts in government funding? We suggest the following steps:
1. Access How Much Your Institution Could Lose
Then, discuss with your staff how you might go about replacing that funding.
2. Place This Issue on the Agenda of Your Next Board Meeting
Discuss the risks with your Board and ask them to help you assess the level of risk and decide on a course of action.
3. Take a More Aggressive Approach to Fundraising
Given the large number of nonprofit organizations (more than 1.5 million) in the U.S. alone, we believe the risk of losing tax-exempt status is lower than the risk of losing direct government grants. This may mean adding a major donor program, communicating with your current donors more frequently, increasing new donor acquisition efforts, etc.
4. Formulate a Strategy to Inform Donors
Know how you will inform your donors of governmental agencies that propose or pass regulations that impinge on your religious beliefs or practices.
We would love to help you put these four steps to prepare your Christian school for cuts in government funding into action. Just request your free consultation >>
Photo Credit: TaxCredits.net