Washington Snapshot - August 8, 2014

August recess is here and it seems like most of D.C. is on vacation! Yet, despite a slow news week on the policy front, the Council has been very busy and has a lot to share. We have been hard at work leading the charge to get the Senate to vote on the America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719). We have a few upcoming activities/events to share with you, along with ways that you can get involved.

Congress IconCouncil to Senators - Vote "Yes" on H.R. 4719

As we reported last week, the Council is leading efforts among the foundation community to mobilize in support of the America Gives More Act (H.R.4719).

Yesterday, Council President & CEO Vikki Spruill sent 100 letters to the members of the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Council on Foundations urging them to vote “yes” on the America Gives More Act.

To recap how we got to where we are today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America Gives More Act with a bipartisan super-majority vote of 277 to 130. This bill contains five provisions, including provisions to make the IRA charitable rollover a permanent part of tax law and simplifying the private foundation excise tax to a single rate of one percent. It also addresses contributions of food inventory, contributions of conservation easements, and extending the deadline to claim charitable gifts for the tax deduction to April 15th.

The Council and our colleagues in the field have been working for more than a decade to advance these measures, and now we are closer than ever to seeing them become law. Along with others– from our national colleagues to regional associations across the country, from networks of charities to individual foundations – we’ve been united in this effort for years. And, we all remain committed to see this through.

Vikki’s letter, cited in a Bloomberg BNA (subscriber only) article yesterday, encourages swift action by the Senate so that generous Americans – both individuals and foundations – have the certainty that allows for more charitable giving, the lifeblood for communities across the country.

Vikki Spruill told each Senator:

As you visit with constituents, you will notice the overwhelming benefits of charitable giving in your state, made stronger by these important tax provisions.

The IRA charitable rollover encourages individuals to donate retirement account assets directly to a public charity without incurring a tax liability on the donation. Rollover donations help countless public charities to fulfill their charitable purposes. Among the beneficiaries, your local community foundations manage these rollover gifts and invest them in projects you see every day—from the new center at the local hospital or the new college scholarship program to the preservation of a historic community landmark and community development centers.

Simplifying the private foundation excise tax will lift an administrative burden that creates a perverse incentive for private foundations to give less, not more, in times of need. When foundations want to increase their giving for unanticipated grants, such as the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts or grants to help communities devastated by gun violence, they could be penalized with a higher tax burden. Simplifying this complex tax will free up foundations to invest less resources in tax compliance and more in communities in your state.

As you can see from this letter, the Council is in action mode. Members of Congress are at home, visiting with countless constituents in communities nationwide. This is our opportunity to raise our collective voices. Foundations have meaningful stories to share that can make that critical connection for lawmakers – the America Gives More Act will make a difference.

Congress Icon"Activate in August"


Meet with your Senators. Send a letter. Write an op-ed for your local paper. Encourage your partners in the field to act. Email. Tweet. Whatever it takes to get our voices heard.

The Council created an easy to use “Activate in August” advocacy toolkit. We will update it regularly over the next several weeks. Our colleagues in the field, including many regional associations are gearing up their efforts as well. And, earlier this week, both Independent Sector and National Council on Nonprofits released new information to guide their members’ efforts. We encourage you to visit these sites if you’re interested in the variety of ways organizations are drawing attention to both The America Gives More Act and, more generally, the work being done back home in every state and Congressional District.

The strong bipartisan alignment around The America Gives More Act is rare these days in Washington, but both Democrats and Republicans in the House understood the importance of standing with the charitable sector.

We need to ensure that this bill becomes law. But we don’t have much time. We’re hearing that Congress will come back to Washington for merely three weeks in September before going back home to campaign for the November elections. That’s only about 15 work days! For that reason, the field is galvanizing around this single, important message for the Senate to approve the House bill.

Tell your Senators to urge Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the America Gives More Act to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

Events IconJust Announced: "Activate in August" Conference Call

On this upcoming Monday, August 11th, from 2:00-3:00 PM ET, the Council is hosting a conference call for our members and colleagues to provide additional information on the America Gives More Act, to discuss efforts by partners in the field, and to release new tools for you to use in your work.

Please RSVP for this conference call by sending an e-mail with your name and organization to webinar@cof.org. Dial-In information will be provided automatically and materials will be sent prior to the call.

Let’s keep up the momentum!

Events IconUrban Institute DAF Survey Results Webinar

Thank You to More Than 300 Community Foundation Participants

Join us on Thursday, August 21st, from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM ET for a webinar on the results of the Urban Institute survey on donor advised funds.

As many of our readers already know, the Council commissioned the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy to conduct a survey about donor advised funds (DAFs) managed by community foundations. The Council is working in collaboration with Michigan Council of Foundations and with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The survey results will help us and our members provide a full picture of donor advised funds and their importance to communities nationwide. They will also provide material to develop common messages to address the following questions that lawmakers often have about DAFs:

  • How do community foundations use DAFs to support charitable activity on an annual basis?
  • How do DAFs encourage new and non-traditional investors to become involved in organized philanthropy?
  • To what extent do families use DAFs to engage the next generation in philanthropy and community affairs?
  • Do DAFs increase the capacity of host organizations to respond to community emergencies and to play a leadership role in public-private partnerships?
  • Do DAFs allow host organizations to take a multi-year strategy in dealing with a tough issue that cannot be immediately solved?

Speakers include:

  • Vikki Spruill, President & CEO of Council on Foundations
  • Elizabeth Boris, Director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute;
  • Rob Collier, President & CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations;
  • Sue Santa, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Council on Foundations
  • Soon to be announced Community Foundation leaders

Register now to reserve your spot.

Events IconEvents

NASCO Conference on October 6th

The National Association of Attorneys General/National Association of State Charity Officials' Annual Conference, “The Evolving Role of Charitable Regulation in the 21st Century,” will take place on October 6, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

This year’s conference discussions will focus on how charitable regulation is evolving and adapting to the ever-changing nonprofit landscape. Topics will include emerging issues under UPMIFA, regulator-sector opportunities for collaboration in addressing disaster relief, examining the way charities are evaluated by watchdog agencies, and questioning whether charities are, in the traditional sense, still charitable.

More details coming soon!

Rocky Mountain Tax Seminar: September 17th-19th

The El Pomar Foundation’s annual Rocky Mountain Tax Seminar will take place Wednesday, September 17th, through Friday, September 19th. The seminar is designed to update and inform managers and trustees of private foundations about the ever-changing tax laws that affect private foundations, and to encourage dialogue with the panel of speakers about practical problems foundation managers face in the day-to-day management of their foundations. Check out the website for a list of high-profile speakers and registration details!