Big thanks to Paul Joss of the BBC for passing this along, a lot of great updates and new initiatives in the below. If your organization isn’t already a part of the BBC I’d highly recommend getting in touch with Paul; the BBC is free to join and it quite simply aims to further the voluntourism field through collaborative efforts.
1) Serve America Act – Our friends at the ServiceNation coalition (of which BBC is a part) are putting a big push to get the Kennedy-Hatch Serve America Act passed that President Obama referenced in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night. They are asking organizations to sign letter of support by this Monday, March 2. Read the attached letter and send an e-mail referencing your organization to firstname.lastname@example.org by mid-day Monday if you want to sign the letter. The Serve America Act is largely domestic focused but does include specific support for international volunteering, specifically strengthening the Volunteers for Prosperity program that connects skilled volunteers with international opportunities. At this time the Serve America Act does not include the Global Service Fellowship. You can review the full text of the bill here: http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.277:
2) Global Youth Service Day – The folks at Youth Service America are holding their Global Youth Service Day from April 24-26. According to YSA, “Global Youth Service Day is the largest annual service event in the world. GYSD highlights and celebrates the difference youth make in their communities year-round through service and service-learning. On April 24-26, 2009, millions of young will participate in and lead service projects in more than 100 countries around the world.” If you have youth programs active at that time or want to organize one, you can register it on their site. Learn more at: http://www.globalyouthserviceday.org/
3) Reducing Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions? – This week President Obama released his budget blueprint for fiscal year 2010. The budget proposes tax changes for those in the highest bracket, including a measure that will reduce the value of tax deductions for charitable donations. This is causing a stir in the non-profit sector because of fears that it will negatively impact donations. Please note that this is not an issue that BBC is formally opposing. We’ll keep our attention on issues related directly to international volunteering but since many BBC members are non-profit organizations, I wanted to bring it to your attention. It appears that Independent Sector is watching this issue and I encourage you to monitor their site for additional information and ways to take action if you wish. http://www.independentsector.org/media/20090226_budget.html