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Expanding Help for Nonprofits

Most people who don’t work in the nonprofit community in West Virginia are unfamiliar with the Neighborhood Investment Program. The NIP is a program of the West Virginia Development Office and provides a limited number of tax credits to nonprofit organizations to use for fundraising.

Here’s how it works: Nonprofit organizations apply to the Development Office for these tax credits. Organizations that are awarded tax credits are provided a specific number of credits to use for fundraising for their approved program. Those tax credits are then given to donors (individuals or corporations) that make a gift of $500 or more to the organization for the approved program. Most participating organizations give 50% tax credits to each donor.

Approved programs may include disaster relief, food security, housing, healthcare, domestic violence shelters, educational programs and many more. Each year the state is authorized to issue $3 million in tax credits, despite the requested $6.5 million in requests. Additionally, the program participants pay a processing fee on each donation, which offsets the administrative costs of the program.

There are 15,883 nonprofit organizations that have benefited from utilizing this fundraising tool since it was introduced in 1996. It is currently the only charitable giving incentive in West Virginia. This program is up for renewal and potential expansion during the current legislative session.

In 2020 and now into 2021, many nonprofits have found it challenging to raise funds due to the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The West Virginia Nonprofit Association has conducted a survey that found that 90% of the state’s nonprofits have either been unable to hold fundraising events or have had to cancel revenue-generating programs, resulting in significant declines in revenue. As uncertainty grows about whether, when, and if we can continue these events in 2021, nonprofits across West Virginia are looking to the NIP for an increase in the available credits to help soften the blows that revenue losses have caused.

The NIP is one of the few programs that have provided support at a time when West Virginians have needed it the most, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NIP is the only state incentive for charitable giving and the program impacts at least 200 nonprofits and serves more than 600,000 people (about one third of the state’s population) in all 55 counties.

Locally, organizations participating in the program just last year include Wheeling Health Right, King’s Daughters Childcare Center, Catholic Charities West Virginia, Appalachian Outreach, Augusta Levy Learning Center, Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center, Faith In Action Caregivers, Family Service Upper Ohio Valley, the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless, ArtsLink, Harmony House, House of Hagar, the Oglebay Foundation, Oglebay Institute, Ohio Valley Recovery, St. John’s Home for Children, the Children’s Home of Wheeling, the House of the Carpenter, West Virginia Northern Community College Foundation, Wheeling Symphony, Youth Services System, as well as the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.

We ask Gov. Justice and the West Virginia Legislature to renew the Neighborhood Investment Program and expand the maximum tax credits certification in any state fiscal year to $5 million. This expansion of the credit is desperately needed during these unprecedented times.

Susie Nelson of Wheeling is executive director of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.

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