Philadelphia Forward Executive Director Brett Mandel - probably the highest profile and certainly the most vocal tax-cutting advocate in the city - says his small organization is in danger of folding without significantly stepped-up funding from supporters.
Foundation support for Philadelphia Forward is drying up as the economy tanks, Mandel says. In a fundraising appeal to supporters, Mandel wrote: "put simply, without your support, Philadelphia Forward will no longer be able to continue our push for change."
Asked over the phone if Philadelphia Forward might close up shop, Mandel replied: "that's one of a million possibilities."
"We could decide we've pushed forward with Philadelphia Forward as far as we can," Mandel said, though he also said it was possible he could continue to lead the organization on a part-time basis, or that it could go dormant for a while and return when events warrant. Philadelphia Forward has a board of directors, but Mandel is its only full-time employee.
The full text of Mandel's fundraising appeal is below.
We celebrated when Philadelphia elected leaders who believed in reforms we championed. Less than a year later, we find that Philadelphia still needs Philadelphia Forward's strong, independent voice for change and Philadelphia Forward needs you to respond - today - to this annual appeal with a generous donation if we are to continue the push for change.
Who demonstrated how the city can continue its successful tax-reduction program in these difficult economic times? Who produced evidence showing that tax reform is saving jobs? Who successfully appealed to the Mayor to resume tax reductions after a pause when proposed legislation would have ended city tax cuts for good? It was not any business association or organization of commerce. Philadelphia Forward advocated for change.
Who exposed scandalous inequity in real estate taxation, worked to make assessment unfairness front-page news, and funded the challenge to the real estate valuation system that forced the city to take steps toward real reform? It was not an association of real estate professionals or homeowners' advocates. Philadelphia Forward acted for change.
Who kept you informed about outrages from the Philadelphia Eagles' ongoing $8 million debt to the city to the unethical behavior of our elected officials? Who created programs like the Tax Reform In Perspective event? Who coordinated the Reformers' Roundtable in the METRO to give outside views on current events? It was not your civic group or neighborhood association. Philadelphia Forward collaborated for change.
Given current economic conditions, our funding from foundations has dropped dramatically. Put simply, without your support, Philadelphia Forward will no longer be able to continue our push for change. But, with your help, Philadelphia Forward can continue to be your voice for fair, simple, and competitive city taxes and continue our role at the vanguard in the fight to ensure that Philadelphia becomes a city that works.