On Friday, February 17, Independent Sector welcomed 22 leaders from some of our peer organizations in the charitable community for our first Public Policy Committee meeting of 2017. After an introduction, welcome, and policy overview from IS President and CEO Dan Cardinali, the committee was joined by Washington Council Ernst & Young’s Wes Coulam for a brief 2017 update on the federal policy landscape and its implications for the charitable community.
The remainder of the meeting was dedicated to discussion and updates on the following topics:
Public Policy Education and Engagement
Independent Sector’s Allison Grayson and Jamie Tucker shared IS’ ongoing touchpoints for public policy news and updates, including February’s Monthly Policy Update and the weekly 100 Days for Good podcast. In addition, they shared that the programming historically billed as the Public Policy Action Institute at Independent Sector’s annual conferences will be integrated across programming for Our Common Future—this year’s conference in Detroit co-hosted by Independent Sector, Council of Michigan Foundations, and Michigan Nonprofit Association.
Tax Reform and Charitable Giving
Allison and Jamie led a discussion on Independent Sector’s strategy to preserve and expand the charitable deduction as part of anticipated comprehensive tax reform. This included a brief conversation on the upcoming Giving100 campaign. Giving100 is a grassroots communications campaign commemorating the 100th anniversary of the charitable deduction. The campaign will organize individuals around the call to expand the charitable deduction to all U.S. taxpayers and will launch in March.
Federal Appropriations Process and Independent Sector Principles
The committee split up into small groups to discuss updates to Guiding Principles for Deficit Reduction and Tax Reform, developed and adopted by Independent Sector’s Board of Directors in 2012. The small groups discussed and reported out on fiscal and tax policy principles to reaffirm, revise, add, and drop. They then discussed how IS might use the new principles most effectively through 2017. IS staff is incorporating suggested changes into a refreshed set of principles to be reviewed by the committee and then sent to the board for adoption.
The big-ticket advocacy issue discussed by the committee was the Johnson Amendment. The Committee discussed the possible channels that policymakers might explore to reverse the amendment’s limitations on nonprofit political activity, including legislatively and through regulatory changes. Discussion on the amendment concluded with how advocacy strategy might be encouraged and leveraged to bring the charitable community together in support of retaining the fundamental nonpartisanship of 501(c)(3) organizations ensured under the Johnson Amendment.
Independent Sector’s Public Policy Committee is one of several committees IS gathers throughout the year to guide and advise our programs, strategies, and policy agenda. As part of our ongoing engagement with our member organizations, our committees are comprised of both engaged leaders from Independent Sector member organizations and IS Board members. To learn more about how our committee structure, engagement opportunities, and how to become an IS member, check out our membership page.