Back to top
Back to top

Public Policy Issues

Our Public Policy Focus

Our public policy work involves promoting a strong philanthropic sector and advocating for vibrant, healthy, and equitable communities across the country.

This sustained approach allows the Forum to lead and advocate on behalf of the sector while addressing systemic inequities and identifying practical public policy solutions that catalyze a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper.

In an effort to guide this work, the Forum releases a set of Public Policy Principles every two years, in alignment with the seating of a new Congress.

These Principles establish key policy areas to help direct our advocacy engagement at the federal and state levels.

Download Public Policy Principles for the 118th Congress 

Public Policy Issues + Priorities

Using the Principle policy areas, the Forum has identified specific legislative and regulatory priorities to focus on for 2024:

  • Universal Charitable Deduction
  • Sector Regulation
  • Maternal Health
  • Voting Rights
  • Nonprofit SEAT Act
  • The Farm Bill
  • Census Reform

The Forum will approach these issues in a spirit of partnership and collaboration with PSOs and other allies dedicated to promoting a strong sector and advocating for equitable and reparative policies that benefit the communities we serve.

Featured Policy Issue Briefs

Universal Charitable Deduction

Since 1917, the federal charitable tax deduction has provided a tax deduction for donations made to nonprofit organizations by taxpayers who itemize their tax returns. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made several changes that hurt the effectiveness of the charitable deduction. By increasing the standard deduction, it greatly reduced the number of taxpayers who itemize and therefore have access to the charitable deduction. Under current law, more than 90% of taxpayers don’t itemize, meaning less than 10% of taxpayers have a tax incentive to increase their donations to important causes.

The Forum supports the Universal Charitable Deduction, which would extend the tax incentive to all non-itemizers and make the incentive equitable for all taxpayers.

Read more about the Universal Charitable Deduction

Donor Advised Funds

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) is a charitable account held by a public 501(c)3 entity which receives donations from an individual. Donors can receive an immediate tax deduction based on their donation and then advise on how the funds are granted going forward.

The Forum recognizes the important role that DAFs play in charitable giving, and also understands the significance of having a discussion about various ways to best enhance giving. The nearly 100 PSOs in the Forum’s network represent more than 7,000 foundations and other philanthropic organizations across the country, and their voices and involvement are vital in these discussions.

Read more about Donor Advised Funds.

Maternal Health

There has been an increased focus on public policies to improve maternal health and equity, with recent data showing the severity of maternal mortality. There are significant racial inequities in maternal mortality rates in the United States, and the mortality rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the industrialized world.

Maternal mortality rates among Black and Native American and Alaska Natives are two to four times higher than the rate for white Americans, regardless of their income or education levels. Hispanic and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people also have elevated maternal mortality and morbidity rates. These negative outcomes are largely due to systemic inequities, which create significant disparities in how women experience the healthcare system.

Read more about the Forum's support for public policies that could improve Maternal Health and Equity.

Voting Rights

The Forum recognizes that the well-being of all Americans, and all communities, is inextricably linked to their ability to exercise their right to vote. The late Congressman John Lewis once stated, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.” For its part, the charitable sector has played a key role in encouraging and helping communities participate in the voting process, uplifting the importance of active civic engagement.

A strong democracy thrives when all can participate in this sacred act, unencumbered. And while participation in voting has increased, we have also seen systemic inequities in electoral processes and in laws passed making it more difficult for some Americans, specifically voters of color, to vote. While America has made strides in the past to rectify racial discrimination, these intentionally restrictive voting laws represent a shift backward in our quest for equity and justice for all.

Read more about the Forum's support for Voting Rights.

Policy Issue Briefs and Statements

Ahead of the 2024 election, United Philanthropy Forum partnered with Nonprofit VOTE on the newest edition of the Philanthropy for Voter Engagement Toolkit.
United Philanthropy Forum signed a joint letter to the leaders of the House and Senate, which notes the harmful impacts of government shutdowns and urges the continued funding of the federal government.
United Philanthropy Forum, the Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector submitted a letter in response to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Subcommitee on Oversight's "Request for Information: Understanding and Examining the Political Activities of Tax-Exempt Organizations under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code."
A key policy issue for the Forum is Maternal Health.
Forum statement of record submitted to Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee of the United States Senate, regarding May 2, 2023 hearing: "Improving Access to Federal Grants for Underserved Communities."