Washington, D.C. – More than 250 representatives from foundations and regional associations of grantmakers are in the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress as part of Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), an annual event co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.
FOTH participants are on Capitol Hill today to inform Congress about the impact foundations have in their respective home districts, and to emphasize that philanthropy cannot take the place of government in providing financial support for human service needs. Attendees are also talking to members of Congress and their staffs about the impact legislative and regulatory changes could have on philanthropy.
“Philanthropy is an innovative, independent investment in society,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “With more than 100 new members of Congress, a heightened focus on deficit reduction, and a federal government shutdown looming, there has never been a more important time for foundations to come to Washington and educate lawmakers about philanthropy’s unique ability to respond in times of need with a focus on long-term solutions to our most pressing challenges.”
With Congress and the Obama administration focused on reducing the federal budget deficit, the philanthropic sector’s role is increasingly important in our communities. Philanthropy’s growth during this time is critical, but changes to the national tax code could create barriers for much needed giving.
Specifically, foundation leaders are working to ensure members of Congress and their staffs clearly understand the potential impact of the following legislation:
“We have a responsibility to educate members of Congress about the role and impact of foundations, and to help them understand our collective value as partners to effectively address the growing needs within our communities,” said Michael Litz, president and CEO of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. “Foundations on the Hill is a great opportunity for our members to deepen their working relationships with elected officials and encourage policies that promote a strong philanthropic sector.”
During the two-day meeting that started yesterday, attendees gained insight on the current political and policy landscape from two members of Congress—Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore. 3) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md. 3)—key House and Senate committee staffers, and foundation peers. They also received guidance about how to effectively build productive, sustained working relationships with members, both in Washington and in their communities.
Cummings said, “Many people in Congress have made a decision that it is time to cut and one of the arguments often made is that foundations can make up the difference. There is a way to cut so you don’t cut off your future, Foundations can help, but can’t replace government. They can help ensure we make the right decisions to encouraging more giving in a time of great need.”
More information about the event, as well as the Council on Foundations’ 2011 Legislative Agenda and policy papers, is available at www.foundationsonthehill.org.
The Council on Foundations (www.cof.org), formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include more than 1,750 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 needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good.
The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (the Forum) is a national philanthropic leader and a network of 32 regional associations of grantmakers. The mission of the Forum network is to connect and support regional associations—in ways that expand their capacity to lead, add value to their members, and strengthen philanthropy in their regions—and to bring the knowledge and experience of the regional associations into the national conversation on philanthropy. Please visit our website at www.givingforum.org for more information.
Council on Foundations