Elected legislators rely on their constituents to tell them what issues matter to them and how federally funded programs impact the communities they represent.
Make Your Voice Heard on Issues Affecting Children's Museums
Proposed Elimination of IMLS, NEA, and NEH in FY2018 Budget
Proposed Tax Reform
Proposed Elimination of CNCS
Proposed Elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Tools to Support Your Advocacy
Ways to Advocate Year-Round
President Trump has proposed and Congress is considering major changes to federal agencies and programs that could affect children’s museums. Some policy changes could affect how children’s museums raise money and operate in their communities.
Issue: Proposed Elimination of Federal Agencies that Make Grants to Museums
At the Association of Children’s Museums, we believe that the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities make important investments in American culture. We deeply oppose President Trump’s proposed closure of these three federal agencies, along with other drastic spending cuts that affect our communities. We will work with our colleagues in the museum field to ensure that Congress continues to support these three important cultural agencies. We anticipate reaching out to children’s museums in specific Congressional districts for follow up to legislators, and we hope all children’s museums will join us in voicing your support of these critical agencies.
President Trump’s proposed budget is for fiscal year 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017. Congress has already begun to hold hearings to assess different aspects of this proposed budget, and they hope to approve the FY2018 budget by September 30. This will be a challenging budget year, and we expect Congress to listen closely to constituents throughout the summer. We encourage you to educate your Senators and Representatives about the importance of IMLS, NEA, and NEH to your museum and your community. Make plans to contact your legislator when Congress recesses to spend time in local districts—this happens the week of July 4 and the entire month of August. Check ACM’s advocacy page for up-to-date resources that support your ask and align with the museum field’s message to Congress to continue support for IMLS, NEA, and NEH.
|Federally Funded Agency||FY2016 Enacted Appropriations
|FY2017 Enacted Appropriations
|President Trump's FY2018 Budget Proposal (in millions)|
|Institute of Museum & Library Services||$230||$231||$23 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)|
|---IMLS Office of Museum Services||$31||$32||$0|
for the Arts
|$148||$150||$29 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)|
for the Humanities
|$148||$150||$42 (to fund agency's closure; not for grants)|
Issue: Proposed Tax Reform
As the White House and Congress consider new tax policies to stimulate economic growth, there has been and will continue to be significant debate about the potential impact of proposed tax changes on charitable giving. Elected officials are considering limits or caps on the value of the charitable deduction, which could negatively affect donations to all types of nonprofit organizations. While no policymaker intends to undermine charities, we expect charitable giving to decrease significantly if tax policy no longer incentivizes people to make charitable gifts.
Along with the broader charitable community—including Independent Sector and the Charitable Giving Coalition—we oppose proposals that would hurt museums and other charities by limiting the scope or value of the tax deduction for charitable donations.
More information is available at Independent Sector’s Tax Policy and Charitable Giving page and at the Charitable Giving Coalition.
Issue: Proposed Elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service
President Trump’s FY2018 proposed budget calls for the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is best known for its AmeriCorps community service program. AmeriCorps members commit to working one or two years in exchange for help with living expenses, health insurance, and $5,800 after the completion of each year to pay for tuition or help pay off student loans. A similar program called Senior Corps, which is aimed at older volunteers, also would be eliminated.
More information is available at Voices for National Service.
Issue: Proposed Elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
President Trump’s FY2018 proposed budget calls for the elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program erases student borrowers’ qualified loans if they work for a government or nonprofit employer for ten years. The proposed changes would end public service loan forgiveness for federal loans issued July 1, 2018 or later.
Your most effective tool in your advocacy work is your passion. You have stories to share about how your museum's exhibits, programs, and outreach affect the people in your community. When making a request of a policymaker, you want to convey how your ask—for funding, a new policy, etc.—will influence your ability to make positive change in your community. Consider calling your Senators and Representative at their Washington DC office to educate them on the issues that matter to your children's museum. Now is the time to make your voice heard on the issues that matter to your work and your community.
ACM works closely with other museum associations so that we speak with one voice in support of museums. The American Alliance of Museums offers a variety of materials to support museum advocacy.
- A customizable email template to request FY2018 funding for IMLS
- Know the issues that affect museums
- Use state-by-state snapshots of cultural funding for museums
- Speak up for museums on social media. Use #SaveIMLS on Twitter.
If you want to learn more about the issues that affect the charitable sector, follow the 100 Days for Good podcast. Produced by Independent Sector, the podcast shares what nonprofits, foundations, and anyone committed to the common good needs to know about what's happening in Washington.
To be an effective advocate for your museum and for the children's museum field, develop relationships with your local, state, and federal legislators. Invest your organization's time and effort into these relationships year-round.
- Put your legislators on your organization’s mailing list.
- When your organization receives a grant, write a thank you note. For a federal grant, thank your state's members of Congress and the director of the agency that awarded the grant. For a state grant, thank your state legislators and governor. For a local grant, thank your mayor and local council members.
- If your museum is turned down for a grant due to lack of funds, write to the appropriate decision makers (federal or state legislators, the governor) to ask for increased support for that agency or program.
- Invite your legislators for a tour of your facility and educate them about what you do and how your community benefits. The American Alliance of Museums' guide for hosting a successful visit with an elected official is a good place to start.
- Invite your legislators to openings and community celebrations and ask them to make a short speech about the importance of the children's museum to your community. Take pictures of legislators at these events and share them on the museum's social media channels and with the local newspaper.
- Invite your legislators to speak with your board of directors about early childhood education.