Lobby Day Held to Protect Charitable Deduction, Begin Discussion of Larger Role of Philanthropy in Society
Arlington, VA - Hundreds of representatives from the philanthropic sector converged on Capitol Hill Dec. 4-5 to urge Congress to protect the charitable deduction and begin a broader discussion about the role of philanthropy and how to solve the larger, long-term problems that America faces.
The Charitable Giving Coalition, chaired by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), held its first “Protect Giving—DC Days” as a way to educate Congress about the importance of the charitable deduction as legislators consider tax reform and deficit reduction. Congress is looking at whether or not to retain, modify or eliminate the charitable deduction, which could result in the loss of billions of dollars of contributions that charities rely in order to provide critically needed services to millions of Americans.
But Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of AFP, notes that the problems and challenges that America is facing are so massive, complex and inter-connected that no one organization or sector can solve by themselves. While traditional philanthropy can play a key role—which is why preserving the charitable deduction is important—what’s needed is a wide-ranging strategy that brings government, the business sector, civil society and others together to discuss long-term sustainability for the sector and how each party can work together to address the larger social issues that are facing our country.
“The charitable deduction is a critical tax policy tool that encourages giving, but tax policy is only one aspect of philanthropy,” Watt says. “We need to have a far-ranging discussion with policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists, and the public about new ways to mobilize resources, encourage investments in the charitable sector from different sources, and create social impact through collaboration and growth.”
In Watt’s view, the last time the U.S. had such a broad, comprehensive conversation was in the early 20th century. That process led to the creation of the charitable deduction, which helped ignite a huge wave in philanthropy that now results in nearly $300 billion in gifts every year. With that growth, the charitable sector has a total economic impact of $800 billion and represents nearly 10 percent of the American workforce.
“That discussion had a huge impact on philanthropy and our ability to help people across the country, but a century has passed and so much has changed since then,” Watt points out. “It’s time to have another national conversation—to bring everyone together to examine the charitable landscape and reach consensus on how we can create new systems and tool to bring about long-lasting change.”