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Fundraising Chief Watt Calls on Congress to Preserve Charitable Deduction, Look at New Ways to Invest in Communities

watt 400p congressAndrew Watt, FInstF, the president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, called the charitable deduction a “powerful symbol of American philanthropy” and urged Congress to not only preserve the deduction, but examine new ways to encourage additional giving and investment in the philanthropic sector. 

In a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, Feb. 14, Watt noted that the charitable deduction is one of the most effective tax incentives, with research showing that for every dollar foregone by the government to the deduction, communities across America gain three dollars in charitable programs and services.

Watt also pointed out that the charitable deduction is the only tax incentive where the money taxpayers spend isn’t used to benefit themselves directly—in contrast with the mortgage and other deductions. “The charitable deduction involves a selfless, generous motivation—giving to a cause that might never directly benefit you,” he said. “That’s a powerful message to send.”

Watt called on Congress to look beyond the deduction and engage in more meaningful dialogue on ways to encourage additional giving and investment in the philanthropic sector. He suggested public policy should encourage more public-private partnerships, incentives to create long-term social investments and new pathways for charities, businesses and government to work together to mobilize resources more effectively and address the comprehensive issues that are facing the U.S.

“We need to have many conversations in this country,” said Watt. “But the [charitable deduction] conversation should be settled.”

Watt is available for additional comments about the hearing, the charitable deduction and the role of philanthropy in the U.S. A copy of his comments can be found here.

From 1993–2005, Watt was employed by the Institute of Fundraising in the United Kingdom, a professional membership organization for fundraising professionals. He served in several capacities there, ultimately as deputy chief executive, before joining AFP in 2006, and has extensive experience in fundraising and philanthropic practices around the world.

Watt has been a strong proponent of the value of the nonprofit community and fundraising throughout his career. Viewing nonprofits as a critical interface between the public and government, he has long emphasized the importance of forging strong consensus-based coalitions both within the philanthropic community and between the public and private sectors that demonstrate the value and impact of charities and their work.

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