October 18, 2012

Council on Foundations Plans to Step Up Advocacy

In an e-mail last night to her group's membership, Vikki Spruill, the new leader of the Council on Foundations, announced a campaign to convey the value of philanthropy to lawmakers.

She painted a picture of philanthropy under threat from politicians who are looking for new ways to increase revenue.

"Both President Obama and Governor Romney have put forth plans that will affect giving, and Congress is eyeing all tax deductions as potential revenue raisers," she wrote. "This would be a grave mistake and would negatively affect significant numbers of Americans."

Since joining the Council in July, Ms. Spruill said, she has assembled a team of "seasoned political strategists, communications tacticians, and tax-policy experts with deep ties to federal policy makers." The campaign will focus on educating lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels, she said, showing them how philanthropy has changed lives, created jobs, and transformed communities.

Other nonprofit leaders have been sharpening their sabers in anticipation of renewed efforts by governments to limit the charitable deduction and introduce other changes they say would harm giving. President Obama has proposed capping all deductions for wealthy people at 28 percent, while Mitt Romney has said he would limit total deductions to $17,000 for middle-class families.

Last month, Independent Sector, an association of charities and grant makers, released a report calling for the creation of a single organization to lead such advocacy efforts.

Special coverage: Learn more about the charitable deduction and the effects that changing it could have on giving.