Let’s Work Together: Maximizing Partnerships That Strengthen the EITC and VITA

In 2017, with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Prosperity Now partnered with the EITC Funders Network to explore and build a knowledge base around partnerships that expand the reach and impact of VITA and EITC. We took two different approaches to our research and data collection, with each organization focusing on the audience with whom they work most closely. Prosperity Now’s efforts focused on the VITA practitioner perspective, while the EITC Funder’s Network focused on public sector and philanthropic partnerships.

We each conducted a series of interviews with our respective audiences, exploring the ways in which private philanthropy works with the public sector to support VITA and EITC outreach. Through our research, we learned a lot about funder roles in public-philanthropic partnerships. We also gleaned important lessons for building partnerships and got some helpful advice from public sector and philanthropic partners based on their past experiences.

The key findings from our interviews with VITA practitioners and funders that support EITC and VITA programs can be found on in our paper: Maximizing Partnerships: Collaborations that Strengthen the Impact of the EITC and VITA.

Here are three critical insights from the public sector and philanthropic perspectives:

  • Funders are committed to the EITC and recognize its value as a powerful anti-poverty tool
  • Successful partnerships hinge on funder engagement that extends beyond writing a check (but don’t forget the check—it’s really important!)
  • Public sector support and partnership can be essential to helping families access the EITC and go a long way towards strengthening families, which will ultimately strengthen communities.

While it can be a challenge to start thinking about the next tax season just after tax season has ended, doing so is critical to maximizing the impact and reach of VITA and the EITC. Now is an opportune time for public sector partners and philanthropists to seek out and engage their local VITA Coalition. Using the Taxpayer Opportunity Network’s map of our member coalitions, you can:

  • Find who to connect with where you live
  • Ask to participate in the filing season debrief to identify opportunities for improvement and learn where your support and engagement would be most helpful in the next filing season
  • Get involved in the development and implementation of strategies for outreach to VITA- and EITC-eligible populations, partnering with your local VITA Coalition to increase their capacity, and helping tax filers maximize the tax-time moment to increase their financial security

As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Imagine how far we could go to improve the financial well-being of our communities by forming new connections and possibilities where they didn’t exist before!

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