Gathered in Washington, D.C., earlier this week for the annual Foundations on the Hill event, leaders from the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors urged lawmakers to think twice about modifying the charitable deduction as part of any solution to the country's fiscal dilemma.
Sponsored by the Council on Foundations, the Alliance for Charitable Reform, and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the event convened hundreds of leaders from the philanthropic sector to discuss the link between charitable giving and healthy communities. Last week, Democrats in the Senate put forward a budget plan that limits or caps itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction, putting at risk billions of dollars in charitable donations.
The agenda for the event included meetings with congressional staffers, federal agency officials, and policy experts, as well as discussions of a paradigm shift in the way the charitable tax deduction is perceived by policy makers and many Americans.
"I don't believe any policy maker intends to undermine charities," said Gloria Johnson-Cusack, executive director of Leadership 18, an alliance of CEOs responsible for leading some of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. "But the fact is that major decisions about a range of issues are going to be made very quickly behind closed doors in this unusual legislative environment. That's why we have to act now to make sure lawmakers understand that giving will go down significantly if they change good, existing policy that incentivizes people to support communities. We know policy makers face tough decisions, but now is not the time to experiment with the charitable deduction. The burden falls on nonprofit organizations and the people they serve."