BLOG


SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


Public Policy Update - September 2020

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep01

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 jaci@secf.org.

 

This month’s policy update contains less news than normal – both chambers of Congress are in recess through Labor Day. Here’s a quick review of what will be awaiting lawmakers when they return to Washington in September.

 

COVID Relief Talks Remain Stalled as Shutdown Looms

As we reported in our August update, negotiations over the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation have stalled over several disagreements between House Democrats, Senate Republicans ­– who need Democratic votes to overcome a filibuster – and the White House. 

Both the House and Senate left town with many issues still unresolved. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did bring the House back into session last month, but only to consider legislation that would provide funding for the Post Office amid rising concerns about its ability to handle a large number of mail-in ballots expected for this year’s election.

Adding to the pressure when lawmakers return will be the looming September 30 deadline for Congress to continue funding the government. If no spending legislation is passed, the government will shut down – something neither party, nor President Trump, wants to happen in an election year during a pandemic.

It remains unclear how the possible shutdown will affect COVID relief legislation, but the deadline introduces another factor that could shape negotiations.

Read More


Public Policy Update - August 2020

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Aug04

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 jaci@secf.org.


Fate of Next COVID Relief Package Unclear 

As of this afternoon, the state of the next COVID-19 relief bill, including provisions affecting philanthropy and nonprofits, remained fluid.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the $1 trillion HEALS Act last week. However, several Republican senators are opposed to key provisions of the bill. That, combined with the need to achieve 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, means McConnell has to negotiate not only with his own party, but also with Democrats, whose votes will be essential to passing any legislation. 

Pressure has been added by rising jobless claims and the expiration of both a federal eviction moratorium and enhanced unemployment assistance (UI), which was providing an extra $600 per week to those unemployed due to the pandemic. 

More PPP Loans Possible: As of today, the HEALS Act includes another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits. However, only organizations with fewer than 300 employees that can also show a 50 percent decline in revenue will be eligible for the next round. The proposal also includes liability protections for businesses, schools and nonprofits that reopen, a top priority for Republicans.

Read More


Public Policy Update - July 2020

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jul07

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 jaci@secf.org.


Bills to Expand Charitable Giving Introduced in House and Senate

Two Southeastern lawmakers are among the lead sponsors of bipartisan, bicameral proposals to expand the temporary universal charitable deduction put into law earlier this year.

In the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is a lead sponsor of the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act (S. 4032), which would expand the temporary $300 universal charitable deduction included in the CARES Act to one-third of the standard deduction, or roughly $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for joint filers. The increased deduction would be available for tax years 2019 and 2020. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) has partnered with Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) to introduce an identical version of this legislation in the House.

The lead sponsors on the bill have indicated they are trying to get the expansion included in the next COVID relief package, which is expected in late July. The Senate Finance Committee is also considering expanding the universal charitable deduction in the next package, but committee members are also interested in adding compliance provisions to reduce the cost to the federal government and avoid fraud.

Read More


Public Policy Update - June 2020

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun02

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 jaci@secf.org.

 

Pandemic Response Legislation

Congress Weighing Changes to Paycheck Protection Program: In the wake of the House nearly unanimously passing a bill that would provide more flexibility for businesses and nonprofit organizations taking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Senate Republicans have voiced concerns. However, there is still a strong possibility of changes ultimately becoming law.

On May 28, the House, by a 417-1 vote, passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The bill would extend the loan forgiveness window to 24 weeks, up from 8 weeks. The measure would also give recipients more flexibility in how they can use the loans by changing the so-called 75/25 rule. The new rule would require only 60 percent of the loan to go toward payroll to still qualify for forgiveness, down from the current 75 percent threshold. This legislation would also allow loan recipients to defer payroll taxes for a longer period of time.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) says there are technical errors in the House bill that could make it more difficult for recipients to get their loans forgiven, making it unlikely the Senate passes the House bill unchanged. The Senate is expected to move forward with its own set of changes to PPP, possibly extending the forgiveness window to 16 weeks.

Changes to PPP may also be folded into the so-called RESTART Act, which has been proposed by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). This measure would extend the PPP loan forgiveness window to 16 weeks for businesses that have seen their revenues decline at least 25 percent during the original 8-week window. 

The bill would also create a new loan program to serve businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 5,000 employees. These loans – capped at $10 million – would be available to 501(c)(3) organizations and several other types of tax-exempt organizations. The loans would cover payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses for recipients that have experienced significant revenue losses during the pandemic. Loan recipients with fewer than 500 employees would have an opportunity to have their loans forgiven, while nonprofit employers with more than 500 employees would receive more favorable loan terms without forgiveness.

A detailed summary of the RESTART Act with loan and repayment examples can be found here.

Read More


May 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May05

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 jaci@secf.org.


Impact of Unemployment Insurance Provisions on Nonprofits

You may have seen commentary online concerned about the impact of regulations related to unemployment insurance on nonprofits. However, a close reading of these rules indicates the impact only applies to certain grantee organizations.

Labor Department guidance issued on April 27 instructs states to bill certain tax-exempt employers immediately for 100 percent of the costs of unemployment benefits paid to employees laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this provision applies only to a small group of tax-exempt organizations known as “reimbursing employers.” It appears only some of the nation’s largest charitable organizations will fall into this group, but the complete impact is unknown. Most either pay unemployment taxes directly into their state’s trust funds or are so small that they pay nothing.

We are continuing to track the impact of these regulations – if you are hearing concern from your grantees about any possible impact, please let us know!

Read More


April 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr07

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 jaci@secf.org.


Recent COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Significant Support for Nonprofits, Philanthropy

Almost as soon as Foundations on the Hill had wrapped up this year, activity in Congress became focused almost exclusively on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. While the first two bills addressing the effects of the outbreak were largely focused on halting the spread of the disease and expanding family leave protections, the third bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, represented the single largest piece of relief legislation ever passed by Congress.

The bill, a $2 trillion package focused on the catastrophic economic effects of the outbreak, includes several provisions aimed at boosting charitable giving and supporting the nonprofit organizations during a time of unprecedented crisis.

The legislation, signed into law on March 27, includes the following provisions:

Read More


January 2020 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan07

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 jaci@secf.org.


SECF Public Policy Committee Welcomes New Leadership, Prepares for a Busy Year Ahead

SECF's work on public policy is heading into 2020 with plenty of momentum following crucial victories in Washington to cap off 2019, including the simplification of the private foundation excise tax and the repeal of harmful changes to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT).

The year ahead promises to be busy and unpredictable, particularly with elections on the horizon. In a few weeks, SECF's Public Policy Committee will meet to discuss our strategy for the year and the priorities we will present to lawmakers at Foundations on the Hill and beyond.

Leading the committee in 2020 will be two co-chairs: Jane Alexander, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Mississippi, and Susan DeVenny, president and CEO of the J. Marion Sims Foundation.

Jane provides a vital perspective on the many policy issues that affect not just philanthropy, but community foundations in particular. She has served as the president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Mississippi, based in Jackson, since 2012. During that time, the foundation's assets have grown to $60 million, with more than 250 funds. Jane has led the foundation in working on a number of public-private partnerships, including an initiative between the Mississippi Governor's Office, the Mayor of the City of Jackson and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to study and identify challenges facing the Jackson Public School system, and suggest community-based solutions to address those challenges. 

Read More


Public Policy Update: Philanthropy Scores Victories on Private Foundation Excise Tax, UBIT

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec18

The end of the year will see the philanthropic sector achieve two major policy victories in Washington: a repeal of a burdensome tax on nonprofit organizations and the long-sought simplification of the private foundation excise tax.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a tax and spending package that addresses two issues SECF and other philanthropy-supporting organizations have worked on for years.

The bill, expected to pass the Senate later this week and be signed by the president, would repeal changes to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) that were a consequence of the 2017 tax bill. The changes to UBIT required the taxation of transportation benefits, such as parking and transit, provided by nonprofit organizations to their employees.  

A study commissioned by our allies at Independent Sector and conducted by the Urban Institute and George Washington University had concluded that, on average, the tax diverted $12,000 a year away from each nonprofit's community work. 

Read More


December 2019 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans

Dec03

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 jaci@secf.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. 

Read More


November 2019 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov04

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 matthew@secf.org.


Legislative Updates

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.

Read More


Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Hours:
Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)


Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.