Our Priorities

Our Priorities

SECF’s public policy work is driven by our Public Policy Committee, which operates under a strong set of guiding principles. Our strategic approach works toward three overall goals:

 · Sustain the diversity and independence of the philanthropic sector.
 · Encourage the growth of philanthropy and charitable giving.
 · Maintain transparency and accountability throughout the philanthropic sector.

SECF's Public Policy Blueprint

SECF’s public policy goals, guiding principles and approach are defined by our Public Policy Blueprint, which was adopted by the SECF Board of Trustees in 2019. While policy priorities change year-to-year depending on opportunities and threats to the sector, the Blueprint provides a permanent framework for taking action.
Download the Blueprint

Our Policy Agenda

SECF's Public Policy 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.
Download the Agenda

For 2019, SECF’s public policy agenda is focused on the following 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.

Simplification of the Private Foundation Excise Tax

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.

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.

Political Activity and Philanthropy

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.

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 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 count to inform the work of our member foundations.

Help deliver our agenda to lawmakers – download a version you can provide to policymakers when you meet in-person!

Policy Positions

SECF’s Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of the Public Policy Committee, has adopted official positions on the following subjects:

· Charitable Deductions (Adopted November 2012)
· Private Foundation Excise Tax (Adopted September 2013)
· Endowed Philanthropy (Adopted February 2017)
· Universal Charitable Deduction (Adopted October 2017)
· Independence of Donor-Advised Funds (Adopted October 2017)
· IRA Rollover to Donor-Advised Funds (Adopted October 2017)
· Political Activity and Philanthropy (Adopted November 2017)

If you have questions about SECF’s public policy work, would like support in setting up a meeting with policymakers, or want to know more about what kinds of advocacy foundations can, or cannot, engage in, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at (404) 524-0911 or via email at jaci@secf.org.

Jaci Bertrand

Vice President of Member Engagement


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

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Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–3:00pm (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.