Blog: Newsletters

Private Philanthropy Update — April 2017

I am delighted to introduce you to the Council’s private philanthropy newsletter!

This quarterly publication is a way for me to keep in touch, let you know about what’s happening at the Council, and share resources and other information I think will be of particular interest to you and other independent and family foundations.

I will also use this newsletter as a place to feature your work, what you’re learning, and any questions on your mind that you’d like to share with your colleagues. If you’re interested in submitting a story, a reflection, or a question for the field for inclusion in next quarter’s newsletter, please email me at

Lunch with Legal Counsel

Last month, the Council launched a new quarterly series called “Lunch with Legal Counsel,” designed purposely to help you navigate the rules and effects of private foundation classifications, which include:

  • Excise tax based on investment income
  • Self-dealing
  • Excess business holdings
  • Taxable expenditures

The first webinar was held on March 8 and focused on the private foundation minimum distribution requirement. If you missed the webinar or would like a refresher, here’s a link to the recording.


Save the Date
Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST
Lunch with Legal Counsel
Taxes on Investments Which Jeopardize Charitable Purpose


Help Us Serve You Better

The Council is committed to offering new and more personalized services for independent and family foundations. To help us understand your needs and interests, please take this short online survey. In FIVE MINUTES OR LESS, you can help us improve our services and offer feedback on some new ideas we’ve been considering.

Look Ahead — 2017 Activities to Attend

It’s less than a month to go before our 2017 Annual Conference on April 23-26 in Dallas, Texas, so start planning your itinerary now. We have a diverse slate of private foundation-focused sessions for you to choose from, plus dynamic plenaries, Leadership in Action talks, and networking opportunities galore. You can see a full list of conference sessions here.

We also have a number of fantastic preconference sessions to let you dig deeper into the topics you care most about. If you aren’t signed up already, do consider one of the following:

  • Philanthropy's Role in Strengthening America's Democracy
    Join a timely, topical, and interactive afternoon that will provide both a forum for a conversation about the state of democratic practice in America and a review of the many ways in which philanthropy is working to restore, revive, and renew our democracy.
  • Refining the Business Case for DEI
    Diverse talent pools, equitable grantmaking processes, and inclusive workplaces are all things philanthropy is striving to achieve. Explore tactical approaches on how to embed DEI in your organization.

Plus, if your foundation works on veterans issues, we will have our Veterans Philanthropy Exchange immediately following the conference on April 26-27. You can view the itinerary and register here.

Additional 2017 events for you to consider include:

  • August 2017: HR Summit
  • October 2017: Endowments and Finance Summit
  • December 2017: CEO and Trustee Winter Retreat

Question from the Field: Can Private Foundations Lobby to Protect the Charitable Deduction?

The answer is: Yes.

While private foundations are generally prohibited from engaging in direct lobbying to influence legislation, there is an exception for legislation that would affect the "existence of the private foundation, its powers and duties, its tax-exempt status, or the deductibility of contributions to such foundation."

As part of comprehensive tax reform, it is expected that legislative proposals will address the charitable deduction, as well as other tax provisions that are important to tax-exempt organizations.  Because “the deductibility of contributions” to a private foundation is expressly mentioned as one of the basis for the self-defense exception, the Council is confident that private foundations may engage in direct lobbying activities to protect the charitable deduction. This means that private foundations could engage in communications with legislators and staffers on this subject.

It is important to note that the self-defense exception is not available for activities that would constitute grassroots lobbying — such as encouraging grantees or others to contact their legislators.

The Council respects its members’ own determinations regarding legal issues, and individual policies or practices related to lobbying activity. We encourage members to consult with their own legal counsel regarding any questions.

To read our statement on the subject in full, visit our website.

Don’t Let Your Council Membership Lapse — Renew by April 30, 2017

Your membership in the Council strengthens philanthropy, but it also provides you and your team invaluable benefits and services, including access to our legal team, discounted professional development opportunities, and free must-have grantmaking resources like our annual Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations.

To avoid any disruption in benefits, please renew your membership by April 30, 2017. You can renew online, or you can request a duplicate dues statement by emailing or calling 703.879.0645.

And if you plan to renew by April 30 but just haven’t submitted payment yet — please let us know that too. We will mark that in the system and remove you from receiving future renewal notifications.

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