Public Policy

We, the nonprofit sector, are a powerful community and voice. One easy and fun way to amplify our impact is through advocacy. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits encourages nonprofits to strengthen their voice in the public policy process—and we’re with you every step of the way, from creating your first advocacy agenda, to training and tips that increase your impact, to keeping you updated on developing issues that may affect your work today.

2020 MCN Policy Agenda

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) informs, promotes, connects, and strengthens individual nonprofits and the nonprofit sector at the local, state, and federal levels. MCN’s policy work is grounded in a racial equity lens with a vision of Minnesota being a state where all can thrive, regardless of who they are or where they live.

The nonprofit sector is a steady source of job growth and economic vitality, and an important part of strong, thriving communities. MCN’s public policy team works to support and advance the nonprofit ecosystem, including 328,000 dedicated staff, over 3,200 nonprofit organizations, and the millions of Minnesotans who engage with nonprofits every year. MCN’s Minnesota Budget Project works to expand Minnesota’s prosperity to all Minnesotans through budget, tax, and economic policies. 
2020 MCN Public Policy Agenda image


Policy Updates

Tax on Nonprofit Employee Transportation Benefits Repealed

December 20, 2019

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) has been working to repeal a tax on nonprofit employee transportation benefits since it was written into federal law in 2017, and now we have the joy of letting our members know the effort has reached the finish line! On Friday, December 20, President Trump is expected to sign into law H.R. 1865, a package of funding and tax provisions that includes the repeal of this tax.

This is a major victory for the nonprofit sector and is a testament to what we can accomplish when sector advocates and allies work together. We are grateful for our members, who engaged in and support our advocacy work.

For nearly two years, MCN has worked with our national partners, other state nonprofit associations, and our members on this issue. We have met with members of Congress in D.C., sent letters, made calls, emailed, and advocated on social media to explain the harmful consequences of the tax on nonprofit transportation benefits.

The repealed provision in the 2017 tax law imposed an unrelated business income tax (UBIT) of 21 percent on the expenses nonprofits incur for providing employee benefits like transit passes and employee parking. The new law repeals the tax retroactively.

Operations Note: Once enacted, nonprofits that paid the benefits-related unrelated business income tax for Tax Year 2018 will be entitled to a refund of the taxes paid, but not the administrative and accounting expenses incurred in calculating it. While filing amended tax returns is the normal way to claim refunds, the IRS may be convinced to develop an alternative or streamlined approach in the near future. Stay tuned for more information from MCN about how best to apply for a UBIT refund.

Unfortunately, the year-end tax and budget deal left important priorities on the cutting-room floor. MCN’s Minnesota Budget Project weighed in on the importance of expanding tax credits for lower-income families and children, who were largely left out of the 2017 federal tax law. We thank the Minnesota nonprofits who joined us in that effort, and you can count on continued advocacy to advance fair and inclusive federal tax policy in the years ahead.

Coffee with Congress: Representative Stauber

Join us for a virtual Coffee with Congress event with Representative Pete Stauber

All you need to know about Elections, Nonprofits, and more!

Join Michelle Chang, MCN’s Policy and Equity Coordinator, to learn about strategies to engage voters.

Greater MN Virtual Networking: Civic Engagement in Outstate Minnesota

Join West Central Regional Coordinator as we talk about what Civic Engagement looks like in outstate Minnesota.


Policy Events

Advocacy & Public Policy Resources

Nonprofit organizations play a central role in the democratic process by providing a means for individuals to deliberate on public policies and decisions that affect them. To the extent possible, nonprofit organizations should engage constituents in public policy and advocacy activities as a means to fulfilling their missions and promoting community interests. At MCN, we are continuously working to provide the resources and tools you need to engage in effective advocacy and public policy work at your organization.

Legislative Successes and Past Campaigns

Since its founding in 1987, MCN has been recognized for exemplary work at the state legislature and as a source of training on relationships and advocacy between nonprofits and government.  The number and subject matter of MCN’s public policy positions has grown over time. Learn more about some of the campaigns and successes over MCN's history of public policy work.