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Giving Philanthropy A Voice On The HillApril 12, 2018
Foundation News, Money and Finances
An interview with Jeff Hamond, Vice President, Van Scoyoc Associates, Washington D.C. Mr. Hamond is leading the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, as well as educating lawmakers about the consequences of adverse policy decisions. We spoke with Jeff to share about his work with Community Foundation's across the nation.
What is the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative (CFPAI)?
CFPAI was formed in 2012 to provide community foundations with their own voice in Washington, DC. The group started with 18 foundations and has now grown to 115 foundations in 46 states. The CFPAI does not cater just to the interests of the largest community foundations: While 32 of the 40 largest foundations by asset size are participants, nearly half have assets under $200 million. The main focus of the group has been to help Members of Congress and their staffs understand the vital role that community foundations play in their communities, whether they represent a big city, small town, or rural area. We present community foundations as constituents, not as members of a national group.
Why is this work important?
The work is important because Members of Congress don’t really hear much from the philanthropy space, outside of Foundations on the Hill.
The Initiative has brought small groups of community foundation presidents to Washington for meetings on Capitol Hill, and arranged dozens of conference calls for Foundation presidents or other senior foundation staff. We go to great lengths to have a local community foundation president involved in every substantive meeting, which makes our presence on Capitol Hill focused more on a foundation’s work in the district or state. This approach allows the Member or staffer to gain an understanding of how public policy issues impact community foundations by connecting these issues to local success stories. It allows us to highlight the philanthropic work in a community, rather than simply be another charity lobby.
What areas and issues is CFPAI working to address in Washington?
Our main focus has been on self-preservation and tax-related issues, such as charitable deductions, Donor Advised Funds (DAF), the IRA rollover, estate taxes, and gifts of appreciated property. We are the leading entity pursuing the repeal of the DAF prohibition in the IRA charitable rollover, which limits charitable choice and has hampered CFs nationwide for nearly a decade.
We also explore strategic opportunities to have a voice on non-tax issues, so community foundation leaders can have a greater influence in the policy debate. For example, based on the number of community foundations funding programs to relieve hunger, in 2017 the Initiative advocated to include the Summer Meals Act in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and organized a sign-on letter from 73 community foundations. We have also been asked to help advocate on Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and other issues.
This year, we have already begun to advocate for a fair and accurate decennial census. By granting tens of millions of dollars each year to strengthen organizations at the local level, we know the 2020 Census is a crucial prerequisite for federal policies and programs to respond to the needs of marginalized communities. Therefore, a well-run Census that isn’t sidetracked by ideological issues is important to community foundations and the populations they serve.
How will this work impact Community Foundation donors?
On the IRA rollover issue, every community foundation can give examples of how they lose donations every year because a potential donor, upon learning they cannot use the rollover to open a DAF, seeks another local charity for their gift – or doesn’t give at all. The DAF exclusion restricts donor flexibility by (1) codifying a preference of some charities over others, and (2) making it harder (if not impossible) for a donor to spread out his or her IRA gift among several charities.
On the recent tax bill, the Initiative played a major role in ensuring that the new law didn’t change any rules related to donor-advised funds or gifts of property – significant victories for community foundations and their donors.