Public Policy

As a national voice for philanthropy, the Council works to create an environment in which philanthropy can thrive by promoting policies that allow the philanthropic sector to remain vibrant, inclusive, innovative, and effective.

The Public Policy Team at the Council works in a number of ways advance philanthropy as a core value, and strengthen the sector.


Member Engagement. The Public Policy team is committed to engaging with our members, and encouraging foundations to engage in public policy work. The actions of government fundamentally impact philanthropy’s ability to serve, and the Council works to involve our members on topic in a variety of ways.

Government Relations. The Public Policy team maintains strong relationships with policymakers and their staff—not only to remain up-to-date with the latest policy developments that impact philanthropy—but also to gain insight into the motivations behind the policy proposals in order to create long-term strategies for strengthening the sector. The Council is constantly engaged with staff on the Hill to represent the interests of our members in national policy conversations.

Regulatory Engagement. The Public Policy and Legal Affairs team at the Council diligently follows and consistently engages on regulatory matters that impact the nonprofit and philanthropic sector.

Sector Collaboration. The Council engages with colleagues in the sector to advance the interests of philanthropy. An active member in several coalitions, the Council works collaboratively to achieve collective impact in strengthening philanthropy.


Legal Guidance. The Council’s experienced Legal Team is comprised of six full-time attorneys with a range of expertise in nonprofit policy and legislative issues. The Legal Team responds, on average, to around 100 inquiries from Council members every week, and serves as a resource to interpret murky areas of the law and regulatory code for the benefit of philanthropy. This team is also responsible for administering the Council’s Legal Education program, offering multiple continuing legal education (CLE) sessions each year.

National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®. The Community Foundations National Standards program is operated as a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations. It represents the highest standards of operational excellence and integrity in community philanthropy. Executed with rigor and expertise, the accreditation process was initiated by the sector and remains a peer-driven effort that ensures accountability and compliance with legal requirements.

Legislative and Regulatory Updates. The policy experts at the Council are very attentive of legislative and regulatory developments across a number of areas that impact philanthropy. In addition to closely monitoring the relevant issues, the Policy Team analyzes the implications proposed policy changes and communicates the possible impacts to our members.

Performs and Commissions Research. The Council understands the importance of both quantitative and qualitative data to support advocacy efforts on the Hill and to support our members in their operations.

Congressional Education. The Policy Team works diligently to educate Members of Congress about the role of the philanthropy in American society and the potential impacts—both negative and positive—that policy and regulation can have on the ability of foundations to serve their communities.


Philanthropic-Public Partnerships. The Council maintains ongoing relationships with Executive Branch entities and the White House to ensure that philanthropy is strategically positioned to utilize cross-sector partnerships to leverage its impact and ability to benefit communities across the country.

Knowledge Sharing and Idea Generation. An important component of the Public Policy Team’s work is to serves as a platform for facilitating discussion on the most pressing issues, and as a conduit for innovative ideas and sector knowledge.