Our Agenda

Each year, SECF’s Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of the Public Policy Committee, identifies key issues that will drive our public policy efforts for the year.

For 2019, SECF’s public policy agenda is focused on the following five areas:

Encouraging Charitable Giving

Public policy should encourage and recognize charitable giving by all Americans at all levels. SECF supports efforts to maximize incentives for charitable giving, and make them available for all Americans, in order to enhance the ability of foundations, nonprofits and the broader social sector to support critical community needs.

Community-driven Philanthropy

SECF supports place-based philanthropy – including community foundations – in their missions to build long-term, permanent legacies for their communities. Community foundations utilize many different tools—including donor-advised funds – to help their diverse donor bases provide support to the communities in which they live. SECF opposes any effort that would limit individuals or families from working with a place-based or community foundation, including any measures that would place undue or burdensome regulations on these foundations that would reduce the significant investment these individuals and families make in their communities each year.

Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT)

SECF opposes any UBIT laws that put an undue tax burden on foundations and the organizations they support. Subjecting foundations and the overall tax-exempt sector to the unrelated business income tax on transportation and parking benefits diverts funds that would otherwise go toward valuable community services. SECF supports a full repeal of these regulations so that foundations and other nonprofit organizations aren’t penalized for providing crucial benefits to their employees.

Regulatory Activity

Government agencies, including the Department of Treasury, often issue guidance and regulations that affect the day-to-day operations of foundations. The Southeastern Council of Foundations, on behalf of its members, should be fully engaged with relevant executive agencies, informing their decisions that impact the sector and advocating for positive regulatory mechanisms.

2020 Census

Many communities depend on an accurate demographic information from the Census to help determine how to allocate resources. SECF supports an appropriately-funded Census that offers a fair and accurate data to inform the work of our member foundations.

SECF’s Policy Positions

The following positions were adopted following a vote by either the SECF Executive Committee or Board of Trustees, acting upon the recommendation of the Public Policy Committee.

SECF supports maintaining full deductibility of itemized charitable deductions. Furthermore, SECF urges policymakers to support charitable giving by opposing proposals to cap the charitable deduction for federal taxpayers. Adopted November 2012.

SECF supports the simplification of the excise tax on private foundations through either elimination of the private foundation excise tax on investment earnings, or replacement of the two-tiered tax with a single rate/flat tax. Adopted September 2013.

SECF – on behalf of its members – supports laws and regulations that allow public and private philanthropy to operate in perpetuity, thereby permitting charitable organizations the ability to use endowments to generate long-term responses and support to communities. Adopted February 2017.

Public policy should encourage charitable giving and all taxpayers should receive recognition for their charitable contributions. SECF supports legislation that would create a universal charitable deduction accessible to all filers, even those who do not itemize their return. Adopted October 2017.

We urge Congress to bear in mind the philanthropic sector’s role and value to our communities by encouraging growth in charitable giving and resisting unnecessary regulations that constrain individual donor vehicles, including proposals to require mandatory programmed payouts from donor-advised funds. Adopted October 2017.

SECF encourages the increase of individual philanthropy through donor-advised funds and therefore supports provisions that would allow individuals to rollover funds from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to their donor-advised funds. Adopted October 2017.

The Southeastern Council of Foundations opposes any effort to weaken provisions of current federal tax law, including the so-called Johnson Amendment, that prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates. Adopted November 2017.

The Public Policy Committee is comprised of SECF members from across the region. The committee advises staff on public policy programming and develops policy positions, which are recommended to the SECF Board of Trustees.

Sally Ehrenfried (Co-Chair)
Charleston, SC​

Mason Rummel (Co-Chair)
James Graham Brown Foundation
Louisville, KY​

Jane Alexander​
Community Foundation for Mississippi
Jackson, MS

Meredith Sullivan Benton​
The Healing Trust
Nashville, TN​

Pete Bird
​The Frist Foundation
Nashville, TN​

Ben Chandler
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky​
Louisville, KY​

Alfredo Cruz 
Foundation for Louisiana
Baton Rouge, LA​​

Torrey DeKeyser
​The Eyesight Foundation of Alabama​
Birmingham, AL

Susan DeVenny 
​J. Marion Sims Foundation​
Lancaster, SC

Robert M. Fockler
Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
Memphis, TN

Erik Johnson
​Robert W. Woodruff Foundation​
Atlanta, GA​

Antoinette Malveaux
​Casey Family Programs​
Seattle, WA​

Regan Gruber Moffitt​
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation​
Little Rock, AR​

Cynthia Newbille​
Richmond Memorial Health Foundation
Richmond, VA​

Sutton Mora Hayes​
Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
Memphis, TN ​

Betsy Pennewill​
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Sarasota, FL

Judge John Rochester
​Martha Christine White Foundation
Ashland, AL​​

Christopher Wilbanks​
The Robert and Polly Dunn Foundation​
Atlanta, GA​

Karen Wilbanks​
The Robert and Polly Dunn Foundation
Atlanta, GA 

Gilbert Miller (Ex-Officio)
Bradley-Turner Foundation
Columbus, GA

Janine Lee (Staff)
Southeastern Council of Foundations
Atlanta, GA

Jaci Bertrand (Staff)
Southeastern Council of Foundations
Atlanta, GA

Matthew L. Evans (Staff)
Southeastern Council of Foundations
Atlanta, GA

Matthew L. Evans is SECF’s director of public policy and special projects. He works closely with the Public Policy Committee and provides leadership on all public policy events and programs. Matthew also regularly meets with lawmakers representing the Southeast. If you have interest in becoming more involved, contact Matthew at matthew@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911.

If you have questions about public policy, contact Matthew at matthew@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911.

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

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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.