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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.


SECF Members on Embedding Racial Equity in Public Policy Work

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr01

Last month, attendees at this year’s Foundations on the Hill had the opportunity to hear from three SECF leaders on how they can incorporate racial equity into their public policy work. Today, we’re excited to offer all our members the opportunity to view this informative and powerful session!

The session included insights from Darrin Goss, Sr., president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Chynna Phillips, research and policy director for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Kenita Williams, chief of staff and director of leadership development for the Southern Education Foundation.

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Public Policy Update - March 2021

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar09

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.

 

Join Us Next Week at Virtual Foundations on the Hill!

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is only one week away, but this year’s event is all-virtual – that means you still have time to sign up and connect with lawmakers in Washington!

FOTH 2021 will take place on six days spread over two weeks (March 16-18 and 23-25). Along with the opportunity to connect with policymakers, you’ll also be able to access a full agenda of sessions and speakers, including a closing keynote from PolicyLink’s Michael McAfee!

If you’ve never attended FOTH before, this is definitely the year to take the plunge. You’ll be able to fully participate from your home or office while enjoying the full support of veteran state captains and the SECF staff! FOTH is also a tremendous value – you can sign up now for only $99

You can learn more about this year’s Foundations on the Hill by viewing our webinars from February 17 and March 2. If you’re ready to sign up, registration is open now at SECF.org!

 

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Member Highlight: Chynna Phillips

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar04

Foundations on the Hill is a can’t-miss event for Chynna Phillips, research and policy director of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and a self-described policy nerd.

Like other veterans of Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), Chynna is disappointed she won’t be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for this year’s event, which kicks off March 16. But she sees some advantages to virtual advocacy.

“We have the opportunity to show our commitment,” she said during February’s Public Policy 101 webinar. “We’re not saying, ‘OK, because of COVID we’ll just see you next year.’”

Instead, Chynna and the rest of the South Carolina will be connecting with lawmakers and key staff members, letting them know about the vital work of philanthropy in the Palmetto State over the past year, reminding them of the sector’s priorities and building relationships that can pay dividends in the years ahead.

During the February webinar, Chynna noted that a meeting with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the Democratic House leadership, convened by the foundation, the SC Grantmakers Network and Together SC, helped ensure the charitable sector was on the minds of lawmakers when shaping COVID relief legislation in the early days of the pandemic.

“We had 400 nonprofits on a call with congressman Clyburn and he was able to say, ‘I remember when you came up,’” Chynna recalled. “Later on, he was on the floor, and he talked about that meeting. If it wasn't for FOTH making us comfortable in those spaces, I'm not sure how that would have went.”

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Public Policy Update - February 2021

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb09

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.

 

Attending Foundations on the Hill Is Easier Than Ever – Here Are Five Reasons Why

Foundations on the Hill – SECF members’ best chance all year to connect with lawmakers in Washington – is going virtual this year. That means it’s never been easier to attend as part of the SECF delegation.

If you’ve never attended FOTH before, here are five reasons why you should make this the year you join us:

  1. Virtual FOTH is an incredible value. For just $99, you’ll be able to participate in multiple meetings with members of Congress and their staff. You will also be able to learn more about public policy by attending virtual sessions presented by our partners at the United Philanthropy Forum.
     
  2. FOTH works with your schedule. Meetings with members of Congress will take place throughout six days spread between two weeks – March 16-18 and 23-25. This flexible approach will make it easier to meet lawmakers without getting in the way of the rest of your work!
     
  3. You can attend without leaving your desk. Usually, attending Foundations on the Hill requires leaving town for a few days, flying to Washington and staying in a hotel. This year, all you need to do is join a videoconference from your home or office! 
     
  4. You’ll be supported every step of the way. Before, during and after your meetings with lawmakers, you’ll benefit from the support of the SECF staff as well as fellow members who have stepped up to serve as state captains. You’ll have everything you need to make your FOTH meetings a success!
     
  5. You’ll forge new and valuable relationships. Members of Congress not only write legislation that regulates our sector – they can also facilitate partnerships that help further your foundation’s mission. You’ll also get to connect with other SECF members, especially those in your own state!

You can sign up for FOTH now if you’re already convinced, but if you’d like to learn more, register now for our February 17 webinar, Public Policy 101: Why You Belong at Foundations on the Hill!

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Public Policy Update - January 2021

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan19

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’s Response to the Attack on Democracy

Last week, SECF President & CEO Janine Lee, joined by Board Chair Regan Gruber Moffitt and Equity Chair Robert Dortch, issued a response to the January 6 attack on the Capitol and attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election. 

Describing this moment as another call to action for philanthropy, they call on SECF members to “recommit to the belief that a strong America is synonymous with a strong participatory democracy.” You can read the full response on our blog, Engage.

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What New Leadership in Washington Means for Philanthropy

Tomorrow will bring not only the inauguration of Joe Biden as president, but also a major power shift in the U.S. Senate, as Georgia’s new Democratic senators, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, will be sworn in following their victories in the January 5 runoff elections. 

With Kamala Harris becoming vice president – and her Senate seat being filled by an appointed Democrat – control of the Senate will officially shift to the Democrats by the slimmest possible margin. Each party will have 50 senators, with Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.

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Public Policy Update - December 2020

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec08

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.

 

Expanded Charitable Deduction Could be Part of Year-End COVID Relief Bill

Renewed hopes for a COVID relief package in Congress have also improved the prospects of an expanded charitable deduction.

Prospects for legislation gained significant momentum last week after a bipartisan group of lawmakers revealed a $908 billion plan mostly comprised of extended unemployment benefits, aid for state and local governments and small business loans. The proposal quickly won support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The bill’s price tag places it between the $2.2 trillion package House Democrats passed earlier this year and a $500 billion package Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called for in recent weeks. 

McConnell’s counterproposal, notably, would expand the temporary universal charitable deduction that was included in the CARES Act, which became law in the early weeks of the pandemic and established a $300 deduction for non-itemizers. That provision expires at the end of this year – McConnell’s latest proposal would establish a new universal charitable deduction of $600 for single filers and $1,200 for married couples filing jointly. 

Lawmakers are also staring down a December 11 deadline to prevent a government shutdown. Yesterday, McConnell said he expects to pass a one-week stopgap bill which would keep the government funded until December 18. That would give lawmakers negotiating a COVID relief bill an additional week to come to an agreement – the relief bill is widely expected to be attached to a year-end omnibus funding measure.

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Public Policy Update - October 2020

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct06

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.

 

Post-Election Briefing for SECF Members on November 16

Mark your calendars: SECF will hold a special post-election member webinar on Monday, November 16, at 2:00pm Eastern! We will review the results of races for the White House and Congress and what they could mean for the charitable sector and its priorities in 2021.

Registration for this event will open soon – keep an eye on your email and SECF.org for details!

 

House Democrats Pass Scaled-Back HEROES Act, But Compromise Remains Elusive

Last week, House Democrats released a $2.2 trillion scaled-back relief package in a last-ditch effort to provide additional COVID relief before lawmakers leave town to campaign. Notably, the bill does not include an expansion of the universal charitable deduction but does include a few provisions helpful to nonprofits. A summary released by the National Council of Nonprofits has more details. 

Even with the bill’s reduced price tag, half a trillion dollars still stands between Democrats and the White House. As of today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were negotiating with the hopes of reaching an agreement, but a compromise before the election appears unlikely. 

Looking ahead, the next opportunity for lawmakers to advance a COVID relief package is likely during the “lame duck” session – the time between the election and the end of the year. Current government spending levels expire on December 11, so that will present another opportunity to advance a relief measure that could include nonprofit policies like an expanded universal charitable deduction and additional PPP relief. 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.