December 2019 Public Policy Update
Author: Matthew L. Evans
Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revamped Public Policy Section of SECF.org Provides More Resources, Tools
Public policy and advocacy are an important priority for SECF and many of our members. To support our members already working in this area and to encourage those interested in getting started on advocacy efforts, SECF has added several new, user-friendly features to the public policy section of SECF.org.
Members can now use SECF.org to look up their elected officials, share personal advocacy related stories, participate in advocacy campaigns, view the progress of legislation being tracked by staff and more!
Whether you're on your phone, desktop, or tablet, these public policy resources are now just a click away. You can start exploring these new features now! If you would like a guided tour of the new public policy section and its new features, you can view a recent webinar conducted by SECF staff that provides an in-depth overview.
In addition to these new online tools, SECF now has access to FiscalNote, a leading legislative tracking service used by thousands of organizations. SECF will use FiscalNote to discover and monitor state legislative and regulatory developments while also offering members the opportunity to obtain state legislative tracking reports.
November 2019 Public Policy Update
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Matthew L. Evans, SECF's director of public policy and special projects, at email@example.com.
Private Foundation Excise Tax
The philanthropic sector has made a push this year to pass legislation simplifying the private foundation excise tax. While SECF has been working in conjunction with sector colleagues in Washington to push for a flat, 1 percent rate, the latest developments in Congress indicate a revenue-neutral 1.39 percent rate is the most likely to make it into law.
Last week SECF joined with sector leaders in sending a letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) informing them that the sector is united in its support of including the simplified 1.39 percent rate in a year-end legislative package.
Due to the efforts of sector leaders presenting a unified voice on simplification, on October 31, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), a member of the Ways & Means Committee, introduced H.R. 4953 to modify the excise tax on investment income of private foundations. This legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. George Holding (R-NC).
SECF has, for several years, supported the simplification of the excise tax on private foundations via a single rate or flat tax. This rate would replace the current two-tiered system, which varies between 1 and 2 percent based on a foundation’s giving.
Additionally, SECF’s Public Policy Agenda includes a provision calling for the simplification of the excise tax, through repeal or replacement with a single rate/flat tax. You can view our position statement on the issue at SECF.org.
SECF will continue its advocacy efforts on this issue and will work with colleagues in Washington toward a resolution.
We will continue to keep you updated as the legislative process continues. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Matthew L. Evans.
October 2019 Public Policy Update
Author: Matthew L. Evans
Beginning this month, SECF will provide members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Matthew L. Evans, SECF's director of public policy and special projects, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Recess to Recess
After a few weeks in Washington following the end of the August recess, members of Congress are once again in their districts for a two-week recess covering the Jewish high holidays as well as Columbus Day. The House and Senate will return to work October 15 with several items relating to philanthropy vying for space on the agenda. Here's a look at what SECF members may see during the remainder of the session.
Congress averted a government shutdown last week when the Senate passed a temporary spending bill that was later signed by President Trump. However, that bill's funding expires November 21. This legislation will allow lawmakers more time to finish the annual appropriations process. If regular appropriations legislation is not passed by then, lawmakers may pass a short-term continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government operating at current funding levels.
Beyond these spending bills, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must be passed by January 1, 2020. This legislation has successfully made it through Congress for 60 years. The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the legislation, but significant policy differences have not yet been resolved.
Congress will be busy working on several other must-pass items, as well. Those include reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the National Flood Insurance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the extension of some health policy provisions set to expire this year.
SECF Meets with House Ways & Means Committee Member in Florida
Author: Matthew L. Evans
Earlier this month, SECF was among a group of other charitable organizations that met with U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) in Orlando, Florida. Murphy heard from us as we discussed the current state of giving, nonprofits and grantmaking in her district, and possible legislative proposals that would encourage increased giving throughout the country.
Rep. Murphy shared her concerns with us and acknowledged the importance of the work grantmakers do in Florida and across the South. She provided advice on the best ways to share our message with her congressional colleagues so they, too, may get a better understanding of how the charitable sector works to uplift communities across the country.
SECF is grateful for the opportunity to meet with Rep. Murphy, beginning a dialogue with her office that will continue in the months ahead. SECF is also working with allies in the sector through the Charitable Giving Coalition, a group dedicated to preserving and expanding the charitable deduction. We will continue working with colleagues to reach out to members of Congress and inform them about sound public policy that seeks to uplift charitable giving.
If you would like to learn more about SECF’s public policy work, or would like support engaging with policymakers, including scheduling in-district
meetings with members of Congress, please send an email to email@example.com.
Matthew L. Evans is SECF’s director of public policy and special projects.
In the Palmetto State, Public Policy Takes Center Stage
Author: Matthew L. Evans
For more than a year, SECF has explored ways to emphasize the importance of public policy efforts at the local level, helping grantmakers get involved in the advocacy process in their own state. One state where these efforts have truly taken off is South Carolina. Last week I had the pleasure of attending two advocacy-related convenings in the state – only the latest in a series of several visits focused on policy.
At a June 19 “Advocacy Allies” gathering hosted by Together SC, a membership organization representing nonprofits in the state, nonprofit leaders, including grantmakers, from across the state came together to discuss public policy and advocacy work on behalf of the nonprofit sector in South Carolina. Over 40 attendees provided updates about their advocacy work during the 2019 legislative session and discussed strategies that worked – and lessons learned from those that didn’t. The group also discussed employing a more coordinated advocacy approach that, combined with a sound engagement strategy, would allow them to speak with a collective voice. giving advocacy in the state a more collective voice going forward. The level of enthusiasm at the event was encouraging.
Public Policy Briefs – June 2019
Author: Matthew L. Evans
Periodically, SECF will provide members with updates on state and federal legislation that affects philanthropy. If you have questions related to public policy, or know of legislation at the federal or state level you would like SECF to know about, please contact Matthew L. Evans, director of public policy and special projects, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 524-0911.
House Committee to Hold Hearing on UBIT Next Week
House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) has scheduled a hearing for next week on changes to the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) that could affect foundations and the nonprofits they support.
The hearing, taking place Wednesday, June 19, will focus on the 21 percent tax on transportation-related fringe benefits that was applied to tax-exempt organizations as part the 2017 tax bill. This tax has received significant scrutiny and criticism from the charitable sector, leading many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to call for its elimination, with several members in both chambers introducing repeal legislation.
SECF has called for the repeal of these provisions, and Lewis’s office has reached out asking for specific examples and/or member concerns about the effect of UBIT changes on organizations within the 11-state footprint. If you would like to share an example about how UBIT is affecting your foundation or grantees, please contact Matthew L. Evans, director of public policy and special projects.
Youth Organizing Can Be a Powerful Strategy for Funders
Author: Eric Braxton
Part of the power of youth organizing is that it connects individual transformation to systemic change, and supporting youth-led change is an important grantmaking strategy. It brings together the right people with the right strategies to create social change and protects our other investments by cultivating a leadership pipeline for the future. From the Civil Rights Movement to current efforts for safe communities and just schools, young people from across the South have always been at the forefront of advocating for just and equitable communities. Building on this proud tradition, a new generation of Southern young people is leading efforts to advance health, justice, equity and dignity. At the same time, new research is showing that engaging young people in organizing to create lasting change in their communities is one of the best ways to support their development. Youth organizing efforts in the South have succeeded in achieving real change for their communities such as:
The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO), in collaboration with Grantmakers for Southern Progress, The Highlander Research and Education Center, Project South, The Southeastern Council of Foundations, Southern Echo, Inc., Southern Vision Alliance and The United Way of Greater Atlanta is holding a funder briefing on June 4 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Loudermilk Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to engage with youth leaders and local and national funders to discuss how to support young people as drivers of community change across the South. We urge funders across the region to join us.
Attendees can expect three takeaways from this interactive day:
State Policy Briefs - May 2019
Author: Matthew L. Evans
Periodically, SECF will provide members with updates on state legislation from the Southeast and beyond that affects philanthropy. If you have questions related to public policy, or know of legislation at the federal or state level you would like SECF to know about, please contact Matthew L. Evans, director of public policy and special projects, at email@example.com or (404) 524-0911.
Mississippi Law Will Encourage Gifts to Community Foundation Funds
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed a law (SB 2210) creating the Endow Mississippi Program. The legislation creates a program designed to “promote philanthropic investments in local community development programs and activities, and to enhance the quality of life for Mississippi's children, families and communities.” The law allows Mississippi tax payers to claim a tax credit for gifts made to endowed funds held by community foundations in the state.
Written as a program for corporate income, individual income, and trust income tax purposes, the law provides for a tax credit equal to 25 percent of a qualified contribution to a fund at a qualified community foundation, subject to certain requirements.
The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy and its affinity group, The Community Foundation Network, were strong advocates for the legislation, working tirelessly with legislative leaders in both the Mississippi House and Senate to help promote and get the bill passed.
The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy has provided more information about the legislation on its website.
Five Reasons My Foundation Will Be On the Hill
Author: Russell Carey
It was a moment from an Aaron Sorkin script. “Walk with me,” Rep. French Hill said as we entered the Members Only elevator. Hill, a Republican who represents central Arkansas, including Little Rock, had been buzzed for a floor vote but wanted to learn more about Expect More, our foundation’s new economic equity initiative. As we speedwalked the halls of Congress, I talked about our vision for Arkansas. Through echoing tunnels we discussed how it connected with his workforce agenda. As we arrived at security, I offered some ways we could be a resource in the future. Cue the music.
Moments like this are more common than not at Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). FOTH is a two-day event that brings foundation leaders to Washington, D.C., for meetings with Congress about key issues for foundations and philanthropy. The time my organization, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, spends at FOTH each year is intense, exciting, and incredibly valuable. There’s a multitude of reasons you should be there. I’ve tried to narrow it down to my top five:
The Community Foundation Case for Attending Foundations on the Hill
Author: Sutton Mora Hayes
Hopefully by now you have received an email (or two or three) from SECF encouraging you to attend this year’s Foundations on the Hill (March 11-13). I have a feeling that a lot of you are in the “kind of interested” camp or the “maybe I will go next year” camp. Anyone from any type of foundation would benefit from attending, but I specifically want to encourage my community foundation colleagues to consider joining us in Washington, D.C. this year. Community-driven philanthropy is facing some special challenges, and it is important that we have a strong showing on Capitol Hill.
So, why should you attend? Let me break it down into four points: