CalNonprofits is the voice for California’s nonprofit community. Through our public policy work, we protect and enhance the ability of California’s 501c3 nonprofits to serve our communities, our state, the nation and the world.

For over one hundred years, California nonprofits have been at the forefront of important social movements, including the women’s suffrage campaign of the 1900s, the free speech and black liberation movements of the 1960s, and the emergence of the environmental movement in the 1980s. CalNonprofits builds on this rich tradition to broaden and strengthen our sector’s influence and impact. By working together, nonprofits in California can advance and protect the public interest of our communities.

What is the vision for the California we want to see? With a new federal administration, many nonprofits are struggling with this question: how do we approach, think about, and view our work differently — if at all?

The goal of our policy framework is to guide the policy activities of CalNonprofits, including its staff and board, in dealing with policy makers, the media and the public at large. This does not preclude CalNonprofits from engaging in other issues; rather it provides broad policy goals to help define and advance our work.

1. Advocate for sufficient public investment in our communities

We believe the purpose of government is to provide for and promote the general welfare of the people, and that private philanthropic resources are insufficient toward that end.

We believe the nonprofit community should be involved in all matters related to economic growth and the state budget.

We support government budget and fiscal policies that provide sufficient resources to equitably and adequately meet the needs of Californians.

2. Improve and strengthen the nonprofit sector’s relationship with government

We support nonprofits’ access, inclusion, expertise and collaboration, in and with government.

We believe nonprofits should not be disadvantaged in government bidding processes.

We believe that government contracts with nonprofits must pay for fair shares of indirect expenses.

We believe nonprofits should be paid in a timely fashion on government contracts.

3. Support the nonprofit workforce

We are watchful of all policies that affect the nonprofit workforce, including the minimum wage, overtime rules, student debt, healthcare, and retirement benefits.

We support policies that encourage all employers to be good employers, including nonprofit organizations.

We oppose policies that place burdens disproportionately upon nonprofits as employers.

4. Promote civic engagement

We support the ability of nonprofits to engage fully in public policy advocacy within legal limits, and the ability of foundations to support this advocacy.

We support policies that promote easy, safe and rewarding opportunities for Californians of all walks of life to volunteer with nonprofits.

We support policies that incentivize charitable giving by individuals and businesses and provide equitable tax benefits for people of all income levels.

We support policies that ensure that Californians have full access to voting, are informed of their voting rights, and receive objective and complete information about candidates and measures. In particular, we support policies that address demographic disparities in voter turnout through voter education and expanded access to voting. We believe nonprofits have an essential role in achieving these roles.

5. Ensure nonprofit independence and public accountability

We support streamlining nonprofit reporting and filing obligations, while preserving transparency and accountability. We are watchful of legislative and regulatory actions that burden nonprofits without justification.

We support policies that mandate fair political practices and transparency in all sectors, including the nonprofit sector.

We support the ability of nonprofit organizations of all sizes and focus to be able to fundraise effectively and efficiently, within the parameters of the public good. We are watchful of policies and regulation which seek to limit fundraising activities, place undue fees on fundraising activities, or place nonprofit fundraisers at a disadvantage to for-profit entities.

We also recognize the importance of the right to privacy for donors and other constituencies.

6. Protect and defend the broad values of the nonprofit community

At times, it is important for CalNonprofits to protect and defend the broader values and standards associated with the nonprofit community, such as access to health and social services and education; arts and culture; environmental protection and sustainability; and human and civil rights.

Given the new presidential administration and its potential impact on California, this is a time for nonprofits to expand our mission thinking, not narrow it. We will need to place our work in a larger context and be willing to speak out on issues foundational to the pluralism that nonprofits exemplify, even if they are not within our immediate frames of reference.

Recognizing the diverse points of view within the nonprofit community, we also know that we are most effective when we speak with a collective voice.

Using our Policy Framework

CalNonprofits decides about our involvement in public policy work on a flexible, case-by-case basis, using the following questions to help guide our decision-making:

  • Would our involvement advance our mission?
  • Would our involvement draw on our expertise, positioning, and knowledge?
  • Does the policy in question affect the California nonprofit sector significantly?
  • Would our involvement help reduce disparities and advance equity among Californians?
  • Would our involvement afford opportunities to engage member organizations in advocacy and to expand our membership base?
  • Would our involvement add value to the effort, and do we receive value to our organization and members through our involvement?
  • Do we have the capacity to be effective advocates in our involvement?
  • Do we have a unique contribution to add?


We do not advocate on issues related to the agendas of various nonprofit subsectors. However, we do facilitate forums in which nonprofit organizations can engage each other in collaboration and discussion on issues important mainly to subsectors.

When we refer to “nonprofits” we mean organizations that are exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


Examples of CalNonprofits’ recent advocacy successes:

  • We led the effort to stop AB 2855, a bill in the California legislature that would have required nonprofits to place unnecessary and burdensome notices on every document that included a fundraising message -- not just California nonprofits but any nonprofit that attempted to raise funds in California. In just two months, we mobilized more than 700 nonprofit organizations to speak up to oppose this bill, an unprecedented show of solidarity. This was truly a team effort that showed the power of the nonprofit community.
  • We made it easier for nonprofits to do business. We championed AB 327 which extends for another seven years an exemption to state prevailing wage rules for work performed by volunteers and AB 556, which alters the definition and disclosure of commercial fundraisers in an effort to improve transparency for interested donors.
  • We helped craft a motion, unanimously passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, directing its county executive to develop recommendations on how county government will implement the provisions of the OMB Uniform Guidance related to paying reasonable indirect costs of nonprofit services with federal funds. This has led to a series of meetings between the county executive, nonprofits and philanthropic leaders to design effective implementation policies.
  • We put nonprofits at the table by actively supporting Senator Leno’s bill to increase the minimum wage for all Californians, and by advocating and negotiating with local governments to win minimum wage increases in Los Angeles City and County.
  • We work to ensure that Californians have full access to voting, and that's why we threw our support behind AB 1461, the California New Motor Voter Program to automatically register voters when they obtain or renew a drivers license or receive a state identification card.

Become a member

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