Event - 2014 Rocky Mountain Tax Seminar


The 2014 Rocky Mountain Tax Seminar for Private Foundations is scheduled for September 17, 18, and 19, 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Penrose House Conference Center. The seminar is designed to update and inform managers, trustees, and founders of private foundations about the ever-changing tax laws that affect private foundations.

The seminar encourages dialogue about practical problems that foundation management face in day-to-day operations. Hotel accommodations will be at the Broadmoor Hotel.

Speakers include Jim Hasson, Bruce Hopkins, Celia Roady, Virginia Gross, and Kyle Hybl.  This year’s special guest speaker will be Steven Miller, former acting IRS Commissioner and current National Director of Tax for alliantgroup, a tax consulting firm, specializing in providing tax services to United States businesses.

For additional details and registration visit
or contact Nicole Magic at (719) 577-7062

Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1954 - Kidney Transplants and Dialysis

Kidney Transplants and Dialysis

In 1940, an estimated $45 million was spent on biomedical research in the U.S., only $3 million of it from the Federal government. World War II accelerated government health research, but as late at 1947 the entire budget for the National Institutes of Health was still only $8 million. Thus, the major force in funding biomedical research in the U.S., especially on the cutting edge, was private philanthropy. The most active foundation in this area was the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Brothers John and George Hartford created the behemoth A&P grocery chain, which became the largest retailer in the world. A&P was the first merchant to reach $1 billion in annual sales, which it hit in 1929. That very same year, John established the foundation that bears his name. After the brothers died in the 1950s, their combined contributions of A&P stock made the Hartford Foundation the fourth largest philanthropy in the country. Its trustees met and decided to focus their giving tightly on biomedical research, making the organization the largest supporter of clinical science in the U.S.

Between 1954 and 1979, the Hartford Foundation provided hospitals and medical centers with $175 million of research grants, equipment, and fellowships for scientists, catalyzing many of the era’s important advances in medicine. During its peak spending years of 1962 to 1972, the foundation funded more biomedical research than all other major foundations combined. The products of this investment included kidney dialysis, successful kidney transplantation (and then leaps in other types of organ transplants), major improvements in understanding of immunology, development of the artificial heart, cryogenic surgery, many advances in cancer research, the groundwork for microneurosurgery, and more.
In 1954, Hartford gave Boston’s Brigham Hospital a $300,000 grant which directly supported some of the world’s first successful kidney transplants. These operations created worldwide attention and led to another $200,000 of Hartford support over the next few years. The foundation simultaneously underwrote pioneering work on organ transplantation by other researchers. Crucial investigations in immunology, aiming to avoid rejection of transplanted tissues, were also funded. In addition, the Hartford Foundation underwrote creation of professional organizations like the International Congress of Nephrology, the American Society of Nephrology, and the Transplantation Society.
Making the kidney dialysis machine practical and affordable was another product of concentrated Hartford Foundation funding. The “artificial kidney” that existed in the beginning of the 1950s was huge, expensive, and destructive of patient blood vessels. In 1961, Hartford provided $250,000 to develop more efficient dialysis machines for use in the first outpatient clinic, in Seattle. A second center was subsequently created in Spokane. On January 8, 1962, the world’s first out-of-hospital dialysis center treated its inaugural patient.
Other renal experts in Cleveland and Boston were simultaneously supported with six- and seven-figure grants from Hartford. The result? For the first time, the one-out-of-every-100,000 Americans whose kidneys had failed gained the prospect of escaping their death sentence.

• History of Hartford Foundation biomedical research by Judith Jacobson, The Greatest Good (Chester Jones Foundation, 1984),

• Philanthropy magazine, May/June 2004 issue,

House Passes Legislation Championed by ACR

ACR Priorities Among Five Charity-Related Bills Passed by the House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Two legislative priorities of the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) were included in a package of five charity-related bills—HR 4719, the America Gives More Act—passed today by the House of Representatives. The ACR priorities included in the package will streamline the private foundation (PF) excise tax to a flat one percent rate and give people until April 15 to make charitable contributions applicable to the previous year.

“This legislation is a big win for those who are served by the nonprofit community, which in one form or another, is much of the country,” Joanne Florino, senior vice president for public policy at The Philanthropy Roundtable, said. “In particular, the two provisions championed by ACR will help grow charitable giving and foundation grantmaking.”

The package passed by the House today included HR 4691, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) that would streamline the PF excise tax to a flat rate of one percent. The current excise tax is a two-rate structure which has the practical effect of penalizing foundations if they increase their grants during times of great need.

“Streamlining the PF excise tax has been a top priority for ACR for several years. Our members were invited to brief the Ways and Means Committee’s Nonprofit Tax Reform Working Group on the PF excise tax issue last year and we are proud to see that our suggested change was passed by the House today,” Sandra Swirski, executive director of ACR, said.

Today’s package also included HR 3134, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Bill Enyart (D-IL), which would give people until April 15 to make charitable contributions eligible for the charitable deduction, instead of requiring those gifts to be made by the end of the calendar year.

“This bill would also spur charitable giving by allowing the donors to have a complete knowledge of their financial standing for the tax year, specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs” Swirski said. 

ACR just recently championed these bills during a full day of meetings with members and staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on July 8. In addition to the legislation passed today, the group of foundation leaders discussed other charity-related proposals being considered in tax reform legislation and additional issues affecting the nonprofit sector.

The final three measures included in today’s package would make permanent the IRA charitable rollover, enhanced deductions for conservation easements, and enhanced deductions for food inventory. While not specific priorities for the organization, ACR endorses their passage due to the critical support they will provide to the charitable sector. All five bills included in today’s package were passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on May 29.

Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1876 Appalachian Mountain Club

Charlies Bunion

In 1876, Edward Pickering, Thayer professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, convened a gathering of 34 men with a shared interest in mountain exploration and the outdoors on MIT’s Boston campus. Some of the attendees wanted to form a “New England Geographical Society,” but rather than create “one more learned society,” the attendees decided to create “a vigorous, full-blooded, ardent club” that would support actual outdoor adventuring by building paths and huts available for general use. By 1906 the Appalachian Mountain Club had more than a thousand members and managed more than 100 miles of trails and many cabins. Its success inspired John Muir and some professors from the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University to found the Sierra Club in 1892, though that organization soon veered in a different direction as a mass-membership political group, rather than an operating entity.

Today the Appalachian Mountain Club is still focused on enabling the active enjoyment of the outdoors. Its 100,000 members, 16,000 volunteers, and many loyal donors maintain over 1,800 miles of forest trails plus hundreds of shelters, working through 12 local chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C. In 2003 the club took another bold step into direct conservation by raising money to buy and permanently protect a 37,000-acre tract bordering the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Six years later the organization bought an adjacent 29,500-acre block, thus creating a large continuous corridor of conservation lands stretching north to Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin (described in a 1930 entry). These major purchases were inspired by concern over the decline of the timber industry in Maine, which had traditionally allowed generous public use of its lands while keeping them in a wild state.

The AMC launched its “Maine Woods Initiative” to demonstrate creative ways to combine four productive uses of wild lands: recreation, conservation, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships. On their purchased lands, ecological and local economic needs are pursued simultaneously by mixing various forms of outdoor recreation, timber harvesting, and new nature-based tourism that aims to create jobs and provide the club with revenues. On this land the club currently maintains an 80-mile network of trails, three full-service lodges with private cabins in the traditional Maine sporting-camp tradition, and access for hunting and fishing, paddling, skiing, snowmobiling, and other uses.

Club history,
Fact sheet, including details on the Maine Woods Initiative,

ACR News 07.11.14—ACR Hits the Hill

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: ACR Hits the Hill
>> Federal: Ryan Pens Op-Ed
>> Consider This: Connecting with Lawmakers
>> Top Reads: Charitable Giving Chugs Along, Up 0.9%

Washington Roundup

Lawmakers returned to Washington this week after the Fourth of July recess and immediately turned to determining how to fund the Highway Trust Fund. As you may recall, current estimates show that the Fund (which is used to build roads, bridges and the like) could run out of money as early as August. Historically a bipartisan issue, recent efforts to find new funding have stalled over how to pay for it: spending cuts or tax increases. On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee debated and passed a bill that would replenish the Fund through May 31, 2015. The bill changes pension requirements and increases customs fees to offset the $10 billion price tag. It now heads to the House floor for a vote, though no schedule has been set.

Meanwhile, after Senate Democrats previously suggested a Highway Trust Fund extension just through the end of this year, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a plan on Thursday that would replenish the fund through next summer. While this new timeline is parallel to the House’s plan, there are still small differences on offsets. The Finance Committee debated and passed its plan on Thursday afternoon, and it will now head to the floor for debate, potential amendments, and a vote.  As of this writing, a timeframe for floor debate has not been announced.

ACR Hits the Hill

Members of the ACR leadership team traveled to Washington on Tuesday for a full day of meetings with Members and staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The group discussed our priority issues within House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-MI) tax reform discussion draft. We also thanked Chairman Camp and others for passing a bill in June that would permanently streamline the excise tax on a private foundation’s investment income to a flat 1 percent instead of the current two-tier structure. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL).  This PF excise tax bill has been a top priority for ACR for the last several years. Our efforts got a big boost last year when several of our members were invited to brief Chairman Camp’s Nonprofit Tax Reform Working Group on the PF excise tax. We’re very excited about the Committee’s recent progress and very proud of our ACR members who helped make this happen.

You can read more about the day by going here. We will also have a video summary of the day available on our YouTube channel next week.

Ryan Pens Op-Ed

Also on Tuesday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) wrote an op-ed calling for comprehensive tax reform, saying, “If I could make just one change in Washington, it would be to fix the tax code.” Ryan, who is widely expected to be the next Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after Chairman Camp retires at the end of this year, went on to say that “true tax reform would both broaden the base and lower the rates.” This reaffirms his commitment both to comprehensive tax reform and to finding the lowest possible rate – only possible by limiting or eliminating many popular tax incentives like the charitable deduction. 

The ACR group met with Chairman Ryan on Tuesday as part of our meetings, and he noted his strong belief in charitable services and the importance of private giving. The group did not discuss any specifics in terms of how he would treat the charitable deduction, or any other tax incentives, in any future tax reform plan.

Ryan_ACR Group 2
(From left to right) Jan Preble, John Tyler, Robert Sharpe, Joanne Florino, Rep. Paul Ryan, Gineen Bresso, Adam Meyerson, David Wills, Brent Christopher, Linda Childears, Sandra Swirski, Rhett Butler.

Consider This—Connecting with Lawmakers

As you know, lawmakers will be back in their home states and districts during the entire month of August – and this is a great time to connect with them and discuss the importance of the nonprofit sector! To help you prepare your outreach, our friends at The Philanthropic Collaborative and the Foundation for the Carolinas are hosting a webinar next Tuesday at noon eastern to review “Tools for Outreach to Policymakers.” This webinar builds on the successful June seminar hosted by FFTC in Charlotte, and you will hear from a panel of experts on how to use TPC impact reports to promote your organization’s work. Please click here to learn more, and RSVP here.

We also recommend you take a few minutes to watch this video we put together of former congressional staffers explaining why it is so important to engage with your elected officials.

Top Reads

Looking for ARCHIVES of this newsletter? Click here.

ACR Leaders From Across the Country Converge on Capitol Hill

Conduct Meetings with Tax Writing Committee Members

Ryan_ACR Group 2

(From left to right) Jan Preble, John Tyler, Robert Sharpe, Joanne Florino, Rep. Paul Ryan, Gineen Bresso, Adam Meyerson, David Wills, Brent Christopher, Linda Childears, Sandra Swirski, Rhett Butler.

The Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) completed a full day of meetings Tuesday, July 8 with members and staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The group of foundation leaders discussed some of the charity-related proposals being considered in tax reform legislation and other issues affecting the nonprofit sector.

“We want to work collaboratively with members of Congress and staff to promote policies and changes to the law that will be effective in growing charitable giving in this country,” Brent Christopher, president and chief executive officer of Communities Foundation of Texas, said.

Even though ACR met with both House and Senate offices, the tax reform discussion draft released earlier this year by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) aided in identifying the issues the group would discuss in each respective meeting. The group outlined four specific proposals in the Camp draft that raise concern, and two proposals in the draft that it applauds.

“We definitely wanted to talk about the importance of charitable giving in our society as well as the Camp draft—both the parts that we are concerned about and the parts that we support as a community,” said Gineen Bresso, vice president of special projects and general counsel at the Wasie Foundation.

The proposals in the Camp draft that are lauded by ACR include:

  • Extending the deadline to April 15 to make charitable contributions and receive a deduction for the prior year.
  • Streamlining the private foundation (PF) excise tax on net investment income to a flat one percent.

The PF excise tax provision has been a top priority for ACR for the last several years because the current two-rate structure has the practical effect of deterring foundations from increasing their grants during times of great need. ACR’s representatives thanked lawmakers for the proposals in the draft that the organization supports.

While the Camp draft ultimately preserves the charitable deduction— a decision that ACR wholeheartedly applauds—three of the proposals included alter the deduction in ways which would ultimately cause a significant reduction in charitable giving. The proposed changes are:

  • Instituting a two percent floor on the charitable deduction.
  • Reducing the allowable adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation on cash donations to 40 percent.
  • Limiting a donor’s charitable deduction of certain assets to basis, while current law allows a deduction for fair market value.

“Whenever you combine the AGI limitation with a two percent AGI floor and a larger standard deduction, it has an enormous squeezing effect on private giving,” said Rhett Butler, government liaison for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and founder of the Faith and Giving Coalition.

David Wills, president of the National Christian Foundation, expressed his concern over limiting the charitable deduction for particular assets to basis.

“If that limitation were to pass, it would essentially dry up the contribution of real estate and closely held business interest,” Wills said.

The fourth troubling proposal from the Camp draft was the requirement that all contributions to a donor advised fund (DAF) be distributed within five years of receipt or risk being subject to an excise tax.

“That five year grant requirement would actually be a significant disincentive to charitable giving,” Christopher said. “So we wanted to discuss with members and staff today why that proposal as it is written would not be effective in promoting and growing charitable giving in this country.”

Philanthropic Achievement of the Week

1990- Carnegie Hall is Rescued

Carnegie Hall is an architectural masterpiece from a musical standpoint, its history and magnificent acoustics making it the historic gold standard for American music halls. It is a classic treasure of philanthropy, having been opened for the enjoyment of the American public in 1891, a gift from Andrew Carnegie, who paid the entire bill for its creation, and whose family owned the hall until 1925. Over the decades, the world’s greatest performers delivered thousands of concerts in the facility, and the New York Philharmonic was in residence from 1892 to 1962.

By the early 1980s, though, the hall was in serious disrepair. Having rarely turned a profit in 90 years of existence, the facility required an estimated $30 million in fixes, and was in danger of being demolished. Then James Wolfensohn, an investment banker with a passion for music, led an ambitious effort to not only raise the money for restoration but also revamp the hall’s business practices to ensure a long life.

Wolfensohn overhauled the concert schedule and modernized the hall’s marketing. He donated $1 million of his own money as a challenge grant, and ended up roping some of New York’s most prominent financial and artistic names into joining the effort. They raised $80 million, increased the number of annual contributors from under 800 to over 9,000, and set the hall on a secure financial footing for the first time ever. By the time Wolfensohn ended his term as board chairman for Carnegie Hall in 1990, the project was finished, the hall renovated, and the musical capital of the nation was enjoying a bright future.

Waldemar Nielsen, Inside American Philanthropy( University of Oklahoma Press, 1996), p. 2

ACR Blog: Serving Our Veterans

On the eve of the celebration of Independence Day, we wanted to share an interview we conducted with Thomas Meyer who is the program manager of veterans services at The Philanthropy Roundtable. Meyer is also the author of Serving Those Who Served: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Assisting Veterans and Military Families. In this interview, Meyer explains how veterans are a source of great human capital for our country and discusses the approach philanthropy should take in supporting our nation’s veterans.

In addition to the interview, below is an excerpt from Meyer’s guidebook:

Continue reading…

ACR Blog: ACR To Meet With Lawmakers About Camp Draft, Part II

This is the second of a two-part series about the issues ACR members will discuss in meetings with congressional offices on July 8.

Our last post outlined the troubling provisions from the Camp draft that relate to the charitable deduction. In this post we will explain ACR’s concerns with the proposal related to donor-advised funds (DAFs) and identify the provisions in the Camp draft which ACR applauds.

Continue reading…

ACR Blog: ACR To Meet With Lawmakers About Camp Draft

This is the first of a two-part series about the issues ACR members will discuss in meetings with congressional offices on July 8.

Members of the Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) leadership team are set to meet with members and staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, July 8. The group will discuss some of the charity-related proposals in the tax reform discussion draft released earlier this year by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). ACR thoroughly examined the Camp draft and engaged its members and colleagues in the field for feedback in evaluating these provisions. ACR ultimately identified four that raise serious concerns: three related to the charitable deduction and one related to donor-advised funds. This post will highlight the three provisions related to the charitable deduction.

Continue reading…