Gateway Center President & CEO, Deb Dubin, traveled to Washington DC for the past week to highlight the positive impacts of philanthropy.
Philanthropy creates thriving communities: I spent several days this week for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), the centerpiece event during Philanthropy Week in Washington. FOTH is hosted by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, in partnership with the Council on Foundations.
This year, more than 190 foundation leaders and regional associations from 31 states and the District of Columbia met with their members of Congress to highlight the role and impact of philanthropy.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet directly with Missouri leaders including Congressman Lacy Clay and his staff, Senator Roy Blunt and his staff, and tax counsel to Senator Claire McCaskill.
In brief, our message to the elected officials in support of our collective aims was as follows:
Philanthropy creates thriving communities. Philanthropy is helping your constituents every day by creating jobs, spurring innovation, supporting the vulnerable, and empowering people.
Philanthropy has a unique ability to innovate, incubate, and deliver results – sometimes in ways government and for-profit entities cannot. Importantly, philanthropic collaboration with both government and business leverages our resources to benefit communities around the world.
As Congress contemplates both individual changes to the code and comprehensive tax reform, we hope that you will consider the implications of these changes on philanthropic and charitable organizations, and in turn, your communities.
Changes to the code can enhance and expand the work we do. Or, they can constrain or diminish our ability to do our work, and consequently, hurt the communities we serve.
We recognize that Congress faces tough decisions regarding the nation’s fiscal problems, but there are better solutions than suppressing the ability of philanthropy to do its critical work.
The America Gives More Act of 2015 (HR 644) passed the House in February, but remains on the Senate’s to-do list. Among the specific provisions, we encouraged making permanent the IRA charitable rollover provision that permits donors to make tax-free IRA distributions to qualified charities. We discussed the foundation excise tax and encouraged a single, flat rate of 1% to ease compliance and incentivize giving when it is needed most. We also shared our belief in the value of Donor Advised Funds, and the need to retain their flexibility to respond to local needs by retaining their current structure of longevity.
GCG Members: for more details on these items and other pending policy recommendations related to charitable giving, contact the Gateway Center for Giving. Please consider coming to DC and participating with us at FOTH next year. Sharing our successes and building proactive relationships with our policymakers in Washington is an important long-term strategy for ensuring that the sector’s voice is heard, trusted and heeded.