Philanthropy Week in Washington Highlights

This was an eventful week at the intersection of philanthropy and public policy! Over 200 philanthropic leaders gathered in D.C. for the first annual Philanthropy Week in Washington, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget with proposed changes that impact the sector, commentary wrapped up on the IRS’s proposed 501(c)(4) political activity regulations, and of course, we’re still digging into the depths of Chairman Camp’s tax reform bill which includes many provisions related to tax-exempt organizations.

These tax policy developments provided the perfect platform for participants to underline the main messages of the week: Thriving Philanthropy equals Thriving Communities; Tax Policy Matters; and Community Philanthropy – Community Solutions.

Throughout the week, foundation leaders were able to share stories of the impact they have in their communities. And, they delivered a clear message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill: changes to charitable giving incentives would cause donations to decline by billions of dollars, stifling philanthropy’s effect during a time when communities are still struggling to overcome the recession.

There were a number of events which took place during Philanthropy Week.

It kicked off Tuesday night with a networking reception to welcome participants to DC.

Wednesday morning’s Alliance for Charitable for Charitable Reform (ACR) Summit for Leaders helped get participants up to speed on all that is happening in Washington, including discussions with Hill staff, nonprofit leaders and academics about tax policy.

Before everyone took off for meetings on the Hill, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers held their PolicyWorks lunch where Ann Cramer, trustee at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, spoke passionately about the role foundations and nonprofits need to play shape policy, both at the federal and state level, to benefit the sector.

Thursday morning, participants met informally with philanthropic liaisons from numerous federal agencies to discuss shared programming interests and opportunities for public-philanthropic partnerships across the country.

After back-to-back meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staff, foundation leaders and  congressional staff met in the House Rayburn building for an insightful lunch briefing on the role of American philanthropy as a collaborative partner with government. The Council hosted the event in collaboration with the House Philanthropy Caucus—co-chaired by Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and John Lewis (D-GA-5). The briefing featured philanthropic leaders educating their colleagues and congressional staff on philanthropy’s powerful and unique ability to “fund imaginative excellence,” and “take good and leverage it for more good.”

The week wrapped up with a Twitter chat, which was part of the #CF100 series, to mark the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first community foundation, the Cleveland Foundation. The chat was co-hosted with The Chronicle of Philanthropy and helped to highlight the work foundations are doing to align social action.

We would like to extend a warm thank you to all participants for your enthusiastic presence at the first annual Philanthropy Week, and to our colleagues at the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers for a successful Foundations on the Hill and the Alliance for Charitable Reform for another great Summit for Leaders. We truly appreciate your active engagement on federal policy issues that matter for philanthropy. Remember—your voice matters!