When that one is a single dollar invested in a fraternal. That’s right, according to the results of a new study by Professor Phil Swagel of the Center for Financial Policy at the University of Maryland, America’s fraternal benefit societies produce $76 in value to society for each dollar the federal government “invests” in them by maintaining the fraternal tax exemption.
The study demonstrates that fraternals deliver that value in two ways: 1) direct financial support for organizations that reflect their members’ shared values; and 2) facilitating millions of hours of volunteer service by their members on projects that enhance the quality of life in the communities across the country.
And Professor Swagel points out that fraternals fill the gaps in the government safety net and play a vital role in helping build and maintain the economic and social infrastructure of the nation. Moreover, according to Swagel, this is especially important during an economic downturn when federal, state, and local resources to serve such needs are stressed.
Stop preaching to the choir…
OK, so we’ve got this great study done by a respected academic that demonstrates that the fraternal business model is one of the most effective ways to secure the financial future of millions of people AND bring those people together in a way that makes a meaningful and measurable impact on our society. But you already knew that. Let’s stop talking to ourselves about this and tell someone who really needs to know. This might include:
- Members of Congress who may have to vote on whether to maintain or repeal the fraternal tax exemption in 2015
- Your neighbor who shares many of the same values as you but does not belong to your society
- Your Facebook friends
- The editor of your local newspaper and the producer of your local TV news program
- Your friends in the blogosphere
- The person that you smile and say hello to at church every Sunday
- Your Millennial children who are craving the chance to make a contribution to something they can believe in
- The people standing next to you on the elevator or sitting next to you on the plane
Here’s our plan…
The Alliance plans to use the Swagel Study in a number of specific ways in the coming months. Here’s a preview of what’s coming. Take a look and see where you fit in…
• Targeted Grassroots Advocacy – The Alliance’s Advocacy Engagement Task Force has set a goal of making a personal contact with every member of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees before the end of 2014. The Swagel Study gives us the perfect reason to request an in-district meeting with legislators and/or their key staff, and we’ve already met with nearly a dozen lawmakers over the past few weeks. Take a look at the rosters of each committee and let me know if you or someone from your society knows any of the legislators on them. We’re more than happy to have you deliver our message – and the Swagel Study – to those lawmakers with whom you have a relationship.
• Professional Lobbying – In conjunction with our grassroots advocacy effort, the Alliance’s professional lobbyists, along with the lobbying firms of our largest member societies (Thrivent Financial and Knights of Columbus), will be hand delivering the Swagel Study to those key members of Congress with whom our members are unable to meet, as well as to the many lawmakers that are long-standing supporters of fraternals.
• Broad-Based Grassroots Campaign – Once the dust has settled following the November 2014 elections and a new Congress is seated, the Alliance will begin a broad-based grassroots campaign (remember 2013’s “Blank Slate” effort?) involving all of our member societies. You will be encouraged to have your societies’ employees, agents, local chapter leaders, and rank-and-file members send a personal email along with the executive summary of the Swagel Study to their Representatives and Senators using the Alliance’s on-line advocacy center. The objective is to make as many members of Congress as possible aware of who fraternals are and what we do before any serious discussion about tax reform begins in 2015.
• Day on the Hill – All Alliance member society CEOs will be invited to participate in the Presidents Mid-Year Meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 19-21, 2015, and join us for our “Day on the Hill” event where we’ll meet with as many congressional offices as possible to discuss tax reform issues and drop off the Swagel Study to their key tax staff members.
• Media Tips – We’ve sent a news release to hundreds of broadcast and print journalists and will be following up with targeted reporters to generate positive media coverage of the fraternal system as a result of the Swagel Study. Member societies are encouraged to customize this news release to fit their needs and send it along with a copy of the key findings of the study to local media in your area.
• More Information – We’ve got a variety of additional background information on the Swagel Study, including key messages and responses to frequently asked questions about fraternals. They are yours for the asking. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send them to you.
Got a comment on the Swagel Study? I’d love to hear from you. Post your comments here…