Charitable Organizations Urge Immediate Congressional Action on Charitable Giving Incentives

Twenty Charitable Organizations Unite and Call for Swift Action to Make Permanent Charitable Giving Incentives and Preserve the Tradition of American Generosity
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Today, Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations, supported by 18 other leading philanthropic and charitable organizations, urged Congress to take immediate action to make permanent the three currently expired charitable giving incentives that are part of the tax extenders package. Collectively representing tens of thousands of charities and foundations across the charitable sector, these organizations also held an event on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the value of these incentives and sent a letter calling for swift legislative action.

In cooperation with the House and Senate Philanthropy Caucuses, the briefing on Capitol Hill today is co-hosted by Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations, and it will feature a variety of policy experts who will speak to the importance of making the extenders permanent. To read the full letter, developed by Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations, click here. It specifies that without incentives permanently in place, “many of the donations the incentives were intended to promote will simply not take place.”

“America’s charities and foundations work every day in every corner of our country to lift up lives and improve our communities. This work is possible in part through the unparalleled generosity of the American people, generosity that has been encouraged through the tax code for nearly a century, said Geoff Plague, Vice President of Public Policy at Independent Sector.  “This Congress has an opportunity – by making immediately permanent the IRA charitable rollover and enhanced deductions for contributions of conservation easements and food inventory – to get charitable organizations and the communities they serve off the roller coaster of uncertainty caused by the repeated lapse of these incentives in recent years.”  

“Charity and the American experience are and always have been inextricably linked because this nation stands for something greater than any individual or any individual cause,” said Council on Foundations President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “For that reason, we are asking Congress to act swiftly and continue the long-standing tradition of supporting charitable giving incentives in our tax code. Many years of research and experience demonstrate that charitable giving incentives enhance charitable giving in our society. We need Congress to act now.”

Charitable Giving Incentives – Quick Facts

The letter highlights a few important facts about charitable giving

  • 1 million: acres of natural resources preserved so far.
  • 70 billion: pounds of nutritious food that goes to waste each year and that food banks could gain access to.
  • 140 million: dollars donated by American seniors alone from their retirement savings to help their communities and the charities closest to their hearts.

The text of the letter and list of organizations signing it follows below.

October 21, 2015

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

The undersigned organizations, whose networks collectively represent tens of thousands of charities and foundations, urge Congress to act immediately on a permanent extension of the charitable giving incentives.

Earlier this year, the House voted by a two-thirds majority to help the work of charities by restoring and making permanent three giving incentives: 1) the provision encouraging seniors to make contributions to charitable organizations through their individual retirement accounts; 2) the enhanced deduction for property donated for conservation purposes; and 3) the enhanced deduction for donations of excess food inventory. The House bill, the America Gives More Act, also included language to encourage private foundations to give more in times of crisis through simplifying the excise tax on their investment income. The Senate Finance Committee passed a measure to restore the first three provisions through 2016, but the full Senate has not yet considered the legislation.

As you know, after multiple attempts last year to make these giving incentives permanent, in December, Congress resorted to a short-term extension as part of a broader package of lapsed tax provisions. As a result, the IRA charitable rollover and enhanced deductions for the donation of food inventory and land conservation easements were reinstated for just two weeks, before expiring again for the fifth time in recent years on January 1, 2015.

These donations have helped facilitate the protection of over one million acres per year of our country’s precious natural resources, provided food banks across the country access to the 70 billion pounds of nutritious food wasted each year, and encouraged American seniors to donate hundreds of millions of dollars from their retirement savings to the charities closest to their hearts, including places of worship, cultural institutions, and those helping the down-and-out get back on their feet.

For each day that goes by without an incentive in place and assured, many of the donations the incentives were intended to promote will simply not take place. The repeated expiration and retroactive renewal of these charitable giving incentives create tremendous uncertainty for individuals, families, and businesses who want to provide donations to help their communities, and for the charitable organizations working to meet the needs of their communities.

The time to reinstate and make permanent these provisions is now. The sector and all those we serve cannot wait. Strong bipartisan support will underscore our nation’s long-standing commitment to strengthening charities to do the important work of lifting up lives and improving communities. We are counting on your support.


American Alliance of Museums

American Red Cross

Americans for the Arts

Association of Art Museum Directors

Association of Fundraising Professionals

Catholic Charities USA

Council on Foundations

Feeding America

Girl Scouts of the USA

Goodwill Industries International, Inc.

Independent Sector

Land Trust Alliance


League of American Orchestras

Lutheran Services in America

March of Dimes

National Council of Nonprofits

The Jewish Federations of North America

United Way Worldwide

YMCA of the USA



About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. The Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today's toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

About Independent Sector

Independent Sector is the leadership forum for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations whose member networks collectively represent tens of thousands of organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Learn more at