More than 200 leaders of community, private, and corporate grantmaking foundations will gather on Capitol Hill this week to meet with their elected officials to explain why federal policies to promote philanthropy and charitable giving are more important now than ever, as the nation slowly emerges from economic downturn. The grantmakers, convening for the annual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) event cosponsored by the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, will also discuss with lawmakers and federal agency officials how government increasingly is learning from the philanthropic sector how to affordably develop and implement innovative solutions to long-term social problems.
In addition, FOTH participants will demonstrate to Congress how the sector’s financial independence allows it to take risks, achieve extraordinary results, and affect change. Several FOTH delegates will meet with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Education to discuss how unique, public-philanthropic partnerships may benefit government and philanthropy and the citizens served by both.
Though 2012 is an election year—and expectations are low that Congress will achieve much in the next nine months—comprehensive reform of federal tax policies that affect philanthropy’s ability to serve communities is imminent in 2013. One of the best-known policies being targeted by some in Washington is the charitable tax deduction. Congressional cuts to the deduction could jeopardize support for much-needed community programs that improve public schools, make affordable health care available, retrain workers for potential jobs at in-demand industries, or feed and shelter people in our region.
In addition to maintaining the charitable deduction, this year’s FOTH delegates will ask their congressional representatives to consider other federal policies that make it easier for Americans to give, such as:
- Simplification of the private foundation excise tax
- Re-enactment of the Individual Retirement Account charitable rollover provision
- Passage of the Philanthropic Facilitation Act
- Support for the proposed Rural Philanthropy Growth Act
“Every day, all across the country and here in Washington, D.C., there are important and ongoing conversations between philanthropy leaders and elected officials,” said Jeff Clarke, the Council’s interim president and CEO. “Foundations on the Hill is the sole, annual gathering where philanthropic leaders collectively share stories of how their work strengthens local communities and suggest opportunities for partnering for greater impact around issues such as workforce development, veterans and military families, social innovation, and rural economic development.”
“In our meetings for Foundations on the Hill, we want lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill to know that they can rely on us for more than information about philanthropic activities in their districts,” said Michael Litz, the Forum’s president and CEO. “We are there to help Congress and elected officials at all levels of government understand philanthropy’s role in assuring the long-term success of our communities and our nation.”
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###The Council on Foundations (www.cof.org), formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Council members include more than 1,700 independent, operating, community, public and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad. The Council’s mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools philanthropic organizations need to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good.
Formed in 1998, the Forum (www.givingforum.org) is the national network of 35 formally-organized regional associations of grantmakers that collectively represent more than 4,200 foundations, corporate giving programs, and other philanthropic organizations. The Forum connects and strengthens regional associations as the highest quality providers of services to philanthropy in their regions, and uses its collective and unique assets to inform and strengthen philanthropy throughout the country.