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Public Policy

The Forum supports and advances the work of our members to engage in government relations and public policy work at the state and national level. We help regional and national PSOs advance effective policy that will strengthen philanthropy and advance issues that their members support, strengthen relationships and partnerships between philanthropy and government, and provide a strong, collective voice for the Forum network. Some of our key efforts in public policy and government relations include:

  • PolicyWorks for Philanthropy. Started in 2011, the Forum's PolicyWorks for Philanthropy initiative aims to build the capacity of regional PSOs and their members to engage in public policy, in order to enhance and advance foundations’ impact on issues that they fund. In 2017 we will be expanding PolicyWorks to include national PSOs.
      
  • Federal Policy. The Forum helps our members engage with federal legislators, and other federal policymakers, to advance sound policy that ensures a positive environment for strengthening and growing philanthropy in our country and to help bring philanthropy's voice to other important policy issues. A cornerstone of this work in the annual Foundations on the Hill event, which the Forum presents in partnership with the Council on Foundations and the Alliance for Charitable Reform. Foundations on the Hill is the one time each year when philanthropy speaks with a strong, collective voice on Capitol Hill. In addition to Foundations on the Hill, the Forum provides information, resources, programming and networking to help our members engage with their congressional representatives throughout the year back in their districts.
     
  • State Policy. Many Forum members engage with legislators and policymakers at the state and local level, to ensure a positive environment for strengthening and growing philanthropy in their state and to help bring philanthropy's voice to other important state and local policy issues. The Forum provides information, resources, programming and networking to help our members engage in policy at the state and local level.
     
  • Census 2020. Thanks to support from The Joyce Foundation, the Forum is managing a project to engage regional funders in ensuring a fair and accurate census count in 2020. Through our Census 2020 Project, the Forum is working with our members to mobilize regional funders to advocate for policy improvements for the 2020 census, and to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of a fair and accurate census count to philanthropy.

 

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.

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

Homelessness 

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.

Johnson Amendment

Visit the dedicated webpages of the Council on Foundations and National Council of Nonprofits for additional information about this issue, sample statements and additional resources.

Responding to State Budget Issues

This statewide movement, led by The Pittsburgh Foundation and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, invites Pennsylvania nonprofits, community foundations, United Ways and other funders to advocate for full funding of human services in this year’s budget, as well as for permanent reforms that would protect human services providers in future budget delays. 
 
Find information on messaging and talking points, nonprofit lobbying, foundation lobbying, a social media tookit, a sample letter to the editor, and more.
 
Forefront (IL) and Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia respond to the ongoing budget crisis in their respective states.
 

Protecting the Charitable Deduction

2017 marks the 100 th anniversary 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.
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.
The Council of Michigan Foundations contracted the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy to survey Michigan Community Foundations to determine the impact to community foundations for each of the two years after the repeal of Michigan's Charitable Tax Credit for Community Foundations. Survey findings suggest that the impact of the repeal has been significant. The average number of donations at the key dollar amounts decreased significantly from 2011 - 2013.

Resource Spotlight

The Power of Board Advocacy: A Discussion Guide for Foundation Boards

Foundation leaders have a unique opportunity to serve as powerful champions of their missions. Partnering with your grantees can amplify your impact. The following guide is designed to help you start having an honest conversation in the boardroom; a conversation about your foundation’s goals, approach, and, most importantly, vision for the future.

Related Resources

Charitable Deduction

2017 marks the 100th anniversary 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.

Find More By:
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.

Find More By:
Amicus Brief- AFPF v. Becerra

The Philanthropy Roundtable filed an amicus brief in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, a key donor privacy case.

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