My Bloglines feed for “individual development accounts” doesn’t turn up a lot of bloggers spreading the gospel about IDAs, but today it introduced me to a site called Nonprofit Girl writing about Oregon’s innovative IDA initiative that not only provides support for the asset development aspirations of low-income families, but also invites state residents to make contributions to The Neighborhood Partnership Fund in support of IDAs, for which they receive a state tax credit (which I assume is in addition to a federal tax deduction for those donors who itemize their taxes).
I’ve long been wrestling with my own ideas about how individual donors could be encouraged to provide support for IDAs, so I was delighted to learned about a model that’s already in place and has found backing through state tax policy. I’ll have to bring this up with my fellow IDA advocates who make up Massachusetts’ Midas Collaborative to find out if they think the Massachusetts legislature would consider such policy.
The more I talk with people about IDAs, the more I sense that many individual donors around the country (not just in Oregon) would be eager to support the social change model that IDAs represent. People are troubled by the wage stagnation and growing income inequality in America, but they worry that soup kitchens and homeless shelters, while important parts of the social safety net, can’t address the root causes of poverty. Likewise, donors sense that there’s little an individual can do with a modest donation to reverse the weakening job prospects of low-income workers. But an individual donor could potentially have a major impact on the prospects of a low-income family through support for an IDA designed to provide the first rungs of a ladder out of poverty.
Thanks to Christine at Nonprofit Girl for highlighting the Oregon IDA Initiative.