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Foundations on the Hill 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017 to Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Washington, DC
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It's a Wrap!

More than 300 philanthropy leaders from 28 states gathered in Washington for #FOTH17, participating in hundreds of meetings with their representatives and senators. It was one of the largest gatherings in FOTH’s 14-year history, and the largest in the past nine years. 

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is a multi-day event that brings together foundation leaders from across the country to DC for meetings with Congress about key issues of importance to foundations and philanthropy. FOTH is presented by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, in partnership with the Alliance for Charitable Reform and Council on Foundations. Foundation trustees and staff work with their regional association to schedule meetings on Capitol Hill to personally discuss their work with members of Congress.

This year, participants in Foundations on the Hill advocated to maintain the full scope and value of the charitable deduction and about several additional tax policy issues that are important to growing charitable giving in our country. These issues include simplifying the private foundation excise tax and allowing IRA charitable rollovers to donor advised funds. Philanthropy leaders also voiced their support for the continued full enforcement of current law that prohibits 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities—also known as the “Johnson Amendment.” 

In addition to tax reform, delegations talked with their congressional representatives about many other critical issues for our communities including housing, homelessness, health care, immigration, criminal justice reform, opportunities for people with disabilities, STEM education, workforce development and much more.

Please contact Erin Skene-Pratt with any questions about the event. 

Forum Perspective

  • Philanthropy Speaks Up in Washington
    Forum President & CEO David Biemesderfer offers his own reflections on 2017 Foundations on the Hill and on why philanthropy’s voice is trusted, noticed and needed more than ever before

#FOTH17 Partcipant Perspectives

#FOTH17 Resources

Resources For Delegation Captains

Meeting Resources

Sample Meeting Request Letter
Sample letter to request a meeting with your federal lawmaker during Foundations on the Hill.

Briefing Papers on Congressional Delegates
As a part of preparing their delegations for their Hill meetings, some regional associations put together 1-2 page highlights of each Member of Congress including biographical details, legislative priorities, recent media coverage of interest, committee assignments, prior activity, etc.

Congressional Staff Roles
To those unfamiliar with Capitol Hill, the titles given to staff of Members of Congress can be confusing. In order to enable you to be most effective in communicating with Congress, we have listed the most commonly used titles and principal functions of key staff in your Representative or Senator’s office.

Key Congressional Leadership
A list of the Tax Policy Committee and the Ways and Means Committee who will be leading the conversation around changes to the charitable deduction as part of overall tax reform.

Final Delegation Captain Resources
To assist you in your efforts, and those of your delegation, we are sharing resources for FOTH 2017 for your use and personalization. 

Capitol Hill Map
Printable map of the U.S. Capitol and other buildings on Capitol Hill, including the Library of Congress, Supreme Court, U.S. Botanic Garden, and House and Senate buildings.

Foundations on the Hill Leave Behind Packets
Sample handouts and leave behind packets developed by regional associations for Foundations on the Hill.

Tax Reform Talking Points
As Congress considers comprehensive tax reform, the Charitable Giving Coalition compiled these talking points for a February 16, 2017 fly-in to urge Congress to preserve and protect the full scope and value of the current charitable tax deduction.

Thank You Letter
Template letter to send to your Member of Congress after a meeting during Foundations on the Hill 2017.

Key Issues

Background and resources on policy issues of interest on the federal level. 

Charitable Deduction
2017 marks the 100thanniversary of the charitable deduction. Since 1917, the federal charitable tax deduction has provided a tax deduction for donations made to nonprofit organizations by taxpayers who itemize their tax returns, roughly one-third of all Americans. See the Forum's position and resources on this issue.

Donor Advised Funds
Donor advised funds are powerful tools – both for average people who want to make lasting commitments to their communities, as well as those with significant financial resources who are looking for an alternative to a private foundation. See the Forum's position and resources on this issue.

Johnson Amendment
A current law, also known as the "Johnson Amendment," prohibits 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities. Three bills introduced in the 115th Congress would adversely affect this law. See our position and resources on this issue. 

Simplification of the Excise Tax
A uniform excise tax rate would increase funds available for local communities by freeing private foundations from the administrative task of calculating the amount of additional eligible expenditure needed to qualify for the lower 1% rate. See the Forum's position and resources on this issue.

Other Issues of Interest

Philanthropy Cannot Fill the Gap

President Trump’s 2018 budget proposes more than $54 billion in cuts to federal agencies and programs that support arts & culture, housing, human services, the environment, education, health and many other areas that philanthropy funds. This is nearly equal to total annual U.S. foundation grantmaking—$58.46 billion in 20151—to support charitable purposes. So current foundation giving would be wiped out if it had to cover the cuts in programs and services proposed by the Trump budget. Philanthropy cannot fill the gap. This fact sheet summarizes the proposed cuts.

Endowed Philanthropy

Position statements made by philanthropy-serving organizations in defence of endowed philanthropy.


Visit Funders Together to End Homelessness to learn more about how philanthropy can help advance solutions that will prevent and end homelessness in our country.

Immigration & Refugee Resources

Visit the website of Forum Member Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. Their site provides up-to-date resources and information to help you understand the issues and take action.