As centers of worship and social activity, faith-based institutions — churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples — play an integral role in many communities. Typically, they are stable and reliable institutions, maintaining membership and leadership over long periods of time. As a result, religious leaders are often trusted by not only their own members but also by the larger community.
- Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues
- Faith-based social service programs and food banks
1. Enlist faith-based groups to become involved in tax credit outreach activities.
They can participate both by alerting members who may qualify for the credits and also by conducting outreach in the community. Many religious institutions may also sponsor food pantries, child care programs, or schools.
Identify the right person to approach within the organization. For example, a leader of the church Social Ministry or Peace and Justice Committee may be the person who can introduce the subject of becoming involved in outreach and taking on volunteer opportunities. Or, identify a member who may be knowledgeable about the needs of workers with lower wages or about the tax credits — such as a social worker or an accountant — who may be willing to champion the idea of becoming involved in outreach.
2. Offer to provide tax credit materials.
Organizations can display posters and share flyers and other tax credit information with members. Volunteer to give a talk about the credit at the next gathering of members.
3. Invite religious institutions to host a VITA site.
The buildings which house churches, synagogues or mosques are a valuable resource because they are likely to be in well-known locations and they may already be accessible to people with disabilities. Members may be willing to volunteer as tax preparers or site coordinators. Help arrange for training and to find sources of computer equipment and other site needs.
4. Engage social services organizations and national faith-based organizations.
Catholic Charities, Network of Human Jewish Service Agencies, and Lutheran Services in America have direct contact with families who may be eligible for the tax credits and they may have connections to individual congregations that would be eager to join outreach efforts.
National organizations such as National Council of Churches and the North American Interfaith Network include partners or members of various faiths that work to address a wide range of issues, including poverty. Outreach Campaigns can partner with local members of these networks to share information about the tax credits and free tax filing assistance through newsletters, websites, or special events.