This post was written by Gateway Center for Giving CEO, Deb Dubin, after returning from Washington DC where she advocated on behalf of the philanthropic sector.
It’s Philanthropy Week in Washington, DC, and along with the snow, hundreds of philanthropic leaders from across the country are blanketing Capitol Hill to discuss the vital role of charitable giving and its inextricable link to thriving communities.
As the Captain (and sole member!) of the Missouri “Foundations on the Hill” delegation this year, I am visiting the offices of Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt, as well as Congressman Clay, to highlight the impact of philanthropy in our state. I’m also sharing stories and data about our sector’s collective efforts to make the St. Louis region a safer, healthier and more inclusive place to live.
Foundations have an enormous impact on Missouri communities. In 2011, over 1,412 Missouri foundations invested more than $784,853,675 in the nonprofit economy, which employs nearly one tenth of our state’s workers: more than 230,000 people. It is estimated that every philanthropic dollar invested in the nonprofit sector leverages an additional $8 in direct economic benefits, supporting jobs for tax-paying citizens.
Various tax policy proposals are now in play, from House Ways & Means Committee Chairman David Camp’s recently introduced tax reform bill to the President’s FY 2015 budget, released this past week. Both contain provisions that impact the philanthropic sector, and by extension, the nonprofits and communities with which we partner. We’re told that neither of these proposals will be enacted in their current forms, and that there will be extensive discussion and negotiation over the coming months.
Congress should advance proposals that increase giving, not diminish it.
It comes as no surprise that Regional Associations of Grantmakers support tax policy that encourages charitable giving, thereby allowing the nonprofit sector to survive and thrive. For example, the charitable deduction incentive encourages individuals to donate to charitable organizations, an important source of revenue for nonprofits. These funds are often leveraged with grant funding from the philanthropic sector. If donors have less incentive to give, donations could decline by billions of dollars, obstructing the critical work of nonprofits.
While federal policy is the focus of our visit to Washington, we were also reminded that it’s important to keep an eye on state governments. At the same time that Congress passed 80 bills last year, state legislatures passed 40,000. There is clearly a lot of activity happening at the state level, and our sector should remain watchful for public policy proposals that could impede charitable contributions.
The Gateway Center for Giving has “Foundations on the Hill” materials and resources to share. Please let us know if we can be of service.