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Public Policy Issues

Our Public Policy Focus

Our public policy work involves focusing on key issues that promote a strong sector and vibrant, equitable communities.

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.

Released every two years, the Forum's Public Policy Principles establish key policy areas that serve as a guide for our advocacy engagement:

  • Champion Racial Equity & Justice
  • Support Fair Tax Policy & Regulation
  • Enhance Charitable Giving
  • Defend & Strengthen Democracy
  • Promote Civic Engagement
  • Strengthen the Nonprofit Sector’s Impact

Download Public Policy Principles for the 118th Congress 

Public Policy Issues + Priorities

Based on our Principle policy areas, the Forum has identified specific legislative and regulatory priorities as opportunities to strengthen the philanthropic sector and the communities we serve.

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, about 88% of taxpayers don’t itemize, meaning only about 12% 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 92 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.

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.

The Legacy IRA Act

The bipartisan Legacy IRA Act (S. 243/H.R. 2909) would expand the IRA Charitable Rollover by incentivizing seniors to make donations from traditional IRAs though life-income plans, such as charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts, and increase rollover cap above $100,000 for the first time in more than 15 years. With many Americans unable to afford to give away their retirement income during their lifetimes, this would give prospective donors one more critical way to support the philanthropic sector in a way that works for them. After the donor passes away, the remaining amount is used by the charity for their mission.

Consistent with the Forum’s mission to enhance and expand philanthropy, the Forum supports public policy that encourages charitable giving. The Forum supports the role that tax policy plays in encouraging and structuring gifts that support nonprofit organizations and communities and has endorsed the Legacy IRA Act.

Read more about the Legacy IRA Act.

Policy Issue Briefs and Statements

A letter from the Forum and national partners regarding the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (or ACE Act).
United Philanthropy Forum is engaging our network to ensure a fair and accurate census count in 2020. See the Forum's position and resources on this issue.
United Philanthropy Forum supports the continued full enforcement of current law that prohibits 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities—also known as the “Johnson Amendment.” See our position and resources on this issue.
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, roughly one-third of all Americans. See the Forum's position and resources on this issue.