Washington Snapshot - September 23, 2016

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Voter Perceptions of the Charitable Sector

This week, the Council joined partners Independent Sector and the Alliance for Charitable Reform/Philanthropy Roundtable for a breakfast in cooperation with the House Philanthropy Caucus. We were excited that Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) joined us to deliver remarks about the important role the philanthropic and charitable sectors play in our society.

During this event, our colleagues at Independent Sector debuted new polling research that demonstrates Americans’ strong support for the sector. Click here, to view the full research.

Formal Audit of Trump Foundation is Requested Amid Concerns of Self-Dealing

Earlier this week, news broke that grants were made from the Donald J. Trump Foundation to fulfill agreements that Mr. Trump made with several entities to direct a donation to their charity of choice in exchange for avoiding a lawsuit with his for-profit businesses.

Concerns have been raised about the legal gray-area in which these charitable distributions were made, citing potential violation of “self-dealing” laws. Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, Sander Levin (D-MI) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday requesting a formal audit of the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

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States File Lawsuit Against DOL to Challenge Overtime Rules

This Tuesday, a group of 21 states filed a lawsuit in Texas’ Eastern District against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to challenge the rule published in May regarding overtime compensation.

As many of you will recall, this rule sparked concern among many in the charitable and philanthropic sector and is set to take effect beginning on December 1, 2016. Stay tuned for any important updates regarding this matter.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

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Election Day 2016: More than Presidential and Congressional Races

The main policy action affecting the work of nonprofits and foundations will continue to be at the state and local levels after the upcoming elections, as it has been for years. On November 8 voters across the country get to decide who fills 5,920 state legislative seats along with 93 statewide offices such as governor (12 to be elected), attorney general (10), and secretary of state (eight).

There are also thousands of local city, county, judicial, school district, and special district officials up for election in November. Further, voters will be deciding the fate of 153 statewide ballot measures and hundreds of local ballot questions across the country. Each race and ballot measure has the potential to positively or adversely affect the ability of nonprofits and foundations to advance their missions.

Government Grant/Contract Challenges Top List of Financial Professional Concerns

Aspects of managing government grants and contracts rank as the top three concerns of nonprofit finance professionals, according to results of a new survey released by Abila. The leading concern identified by a survey of over 400 nonprofit finance professionals was the complexity of managing multiple revenue sources, each with different requirements.

Next, the survey participants expressed concern about how new rules and regulations affect an organization’s costs. Even when changes are positive, such as with the OMB Uniform Guidance, the report shows that there is almost always a cost associated with implementation – costs that often are indirect and under-reimbursed.

Finally, the third most common challenge identified was the added time and new costs required to comply with new rules and regulations. Two-thirds of the nonprofit professionals indicated that not only has the amount of time spent on compliance increased in the last two-to-three years, but also the costs associated with compliance have increased — which further adds to a nonprofit’s indirect costs.

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New Study on State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector

A recently released study by the Urban Institute and the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project at Columbia Law School takes a comprehensive look at state-level oversight and regulation of U.S. charities. The study has three components:

  1. A legal analysis of laws pertaining to charities in 56 U.S. jurisdictions;
  2. A survey of all state and territory offices with oversight, regulatory, and enforcement authority over charities (with at least one office within 47 jurisdictions completing the survey); and,
  3. Interviews with officials in over two-thirds of those offices.

Contributing authors include Cindy M. Lott, Elizabeth T. Boris, Karin Kunstler Goldman, Belinda J. Johns, Marcus Gaddy, and Maura R. Farrell.

You can view a summary and read the full report on Urban Institute’s website.

Community Foundations Speak Out About New Rules

Last year, 57 community foundations spoke out urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to enact strong rules to govern payday lenders. A draft rule has been released and the comment period will be open until October 7th.

To learn more or submit your own comments, please visit CFPB’s website.