Columns Opinion Your Views — 13 March 2014
Alexandria in ACTion: ACTions speak louder than words

By John Porter
(File Photo)

With all that’s going on in Washington regarding the federal budget and tax reform, the potential impact on nonprofits is immense. The president’s budget includes important efforts that engage the philanthropic sector, like the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which shares the common goal of addressing inequality, particularly among disadvantaged populations, but also caps total contributions.

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp’s tax reform plan provides for major reforms to the tax code, including a provision that would exempt the first $2,000 of charitable giving from tax deductibility. Both of these and the many other proposals that we’ll see could result in a significant decline in donations to worthy causes.

Whether a cap is instituted or other donation limitations become the law of the land, the potential impact on charitable giving throughout the country could be huge. And while we’re working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen, the debate reminds us that we can’t take anything for granted.

We need to explore ways to get involved and engaged in tackling our community’s most pressing needs.

Luckily, Alexandria is full of opportunities to get involved and blessed with residents willing to do what needs to be done. Daily, Alexandrians let their elected officials know how they feel about issues that matter most to them.

You can see that in letters to the editor here in the Alexandria Times — one of the many ways our neighbors voice their opinions. Local residents need to know they are being heard, even if their suggestions aren’t always implemented.

Alexandrians also have found so many other ways to get involved in helping others in our community: cleaning up a local park, tutoring students and donating to local charities. But others, many new to our community, have the desire and interest but don’t know where to go or what to do to get involved. And with such a high mobility rate in Alexandria, the level of involvement we know is possible is even harder to come by.

That’s exactly why ACT for Alexandria launched the ACTion Alexandria platform three years ago. With support from a Knight Foundation grant and many of our caring residents, this grassroots effort provides an online platform to engage denizens who may not have the time or energy for community engagement.

ACTion Alexandria has proven a valuable tool for the city government and local nonprofits to reach a broader audience. From seeking resident input to finding volunteers to read applications for the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, the online platform quickly has become a viable addition to the engagement process. Right now, ACTion Alexandria is promoting the ACTive Kids contest, where community members submit ideas for keeping kids healthy.

And with the addition of Spring2ACTion, the one-day online fundraising event in April in which local charities engage the broader community for worthy causes, the ACTion Alexandria platform has helped invest more than $1 million back into the community.

So get involved and make a difference — you really don’t have to go far, just visit www.actionalexandria.org.

- The writer is executive 
director of ACT for Alexandria.

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