The Pathway to
Better Public Services
Tens of thousands of communities across America rely on thousands of public services.
Each community has unique challenges, and a cookie-cutter approach to improving public services without monitoring the specific effects of those improvements in different communities won’t work.
Identifying and growing the best systems we use to provide public services is no easy task, and certainly not a quick one. Every movement that has permanently changed a nation, a city, or even a neighborhood for the better, has required time, dedicated people, and a plan.
Step 1: Find Those Who Do Better
A local Do Better team leader begins by building a small coalition of like-minded people who have a passion for doing better in their community. We Do Better National provides the coalition with a list of nonprofit organizations and any private companies or informal groups (voluntary sector) that we believe are providing public services in the coalition’s jurisdiction.
The Do Better team then starts to reach out to those voluntary sector organizations, starting with those aligned with the passions of the Do Better team’s members (Healthcare, Shelter, Environmental Protection, etc.). The Do Better team collects specific information from each about the services it provides, how they can be accessed, and what people have to do to receive them. As it does so, it learns exactly why and how these organizations Do Better in providing their services to those who need them.
When the leader of the Do Better team has all necessary information about the provision of a particular service or category of services in his or her community, We Do Better National will place it on a website and help the local leader to conduct a short public relations campaign to tell the community all about these services, organizations, and available resources for the folks who need them. The campaign will involve TV and radio ads as well as Public Service Announcements, interviews with local media, and so on. The purpose is to ensure that the members of the community know where and how to get the services they need so that no one for whom help is available fails to receive it for lack of knowledge. This is tightening the social safety net.
Step 2: Fund Those Who Do Better
Throughout the whole process, the local Do Better team has been building a large coalition of organizations that provide public services and people who want better outcomes for others in their community. It has also learned why and how these organizations outperform the government in delivering them.
For example, if it has gathered data on the impact of each of the organizations it has been in touch with, it may know how many people are helped by the homeless organizations in the community, and how much it costs to help them. Such information is likely to reveal best practices. We Do Better National’s grassroots advisors will help the teams find impactful information such as this.
The Do Better team uses this knowledge and its established relationships to bring the attention of the community to the most effective organizations. This exposure has a positive effect on volunteers, resources, and organizational practices. A virtuous cycle is now under way: those who Do Better now Do even Better!
The stage is set for the introduction of the Universal Charitable Credit (UCC) – a very simple piece of legislation that allows the taxpayers in the community to send their tax money to whatever organizations provide the best public services.
The Universal Charitable Credit is modeled after the Arizona Charitable Credit, which has been in place for 20 years and has been so successful that it was recently doubled from $200 to $400. The credit has enabled over a hundred thousand Arizonans to direct their tax dollars to wherever they deliver the best results. You can see its impact here.
This legislation focuses primarily on nonprofits for a number of practical reasons. First, they are already well defined in law as entities that primarily serve the public. Second, they provide many public services in communities. Third, they are required to be transparent so their donors can see the impact of their tax dollars. It is this legislation that strengthens the social safety net.
We Do Better National provides sample legislation and assistance in expanding the coalition, while closely guiding the We Do Better team in implementing the UCC. Our political action arm helps with lobbying and direct legislative action to pass the legislation that enables your community to get the best human outcomes for every dollar spent on public services.
After the UCC Has Passed
Once the UCC has been signed into law, We Do Better National will, in coordination with the local Do Better team, launch a promotional campaign to let the taxpayers of the community know where they can direct their resources, and where they can find the impact data to help them evaluate those organizations that are serving their community. Working with local accountants, business, and organizations, the local Do Better team will help educate taxpayers on the use of the credit in whatever form it passes.
By now, community members know what services are available, and how and where to access them; they have easy access to the data they need to choose the best organizations to support; and they are empowered to send their tax dollars to the organizations that truly Do Better in their community. In other words, they are finally in a position to make their community’s social safety net more impactful without limit. In other words, they are empowered to Do even Better.
For those who temporarily need the safety net, the net can become a trampoline; for those who have to rely on it every day, it can become a sturdy floor built on solid foundations.
The other side of that coin is that the community has a direct mechanism for holding accountable the organizations that provide the safety net, and respond quickly should their provision of services be anything less than exemplary. This added accountability also causes those who already Do Better in providing our public services to Do even Better.
The nature of the improvements in public services over the long-run will ultimately depend on the community and where it directs its resources. In Arizona, local nonprofits in various cities formed Tax Credit Coalitions with convenient websites, making them easy to volunteer for, easy to donate to, and easy to contact for help. This coming together of the voluntary sector led to a more holistic, and therefore more effective, approach to addressing the needs of local people. These coalitions and platforms allowed taxpayers to donate to the best organizations with just a few clicks on a website, improving lives at no net cost to the donor.
When those who provide resources for public services, those who deliver those public services, and those who receive those services, all Do Better, whole communities Do Better. When our communities do better, our states do better, and when our states do better, our nation does better.