Philanthropic Achievement of the Week
2008: Lincoln’s Cottage
It is little known that for fully a quarter of his presidency, Abraham Lincoln didn’t live in the White House. He and his family chose to reside at a cottage on the grounds of a home for retired soldiers in northern Washington, D.C. At that time this was a rural area, and amidst the pressure of the Civil War, their sorrow over losing their 12-year-old son Willie, and the fact that the White House was a wide-open bedlam where the President could be besieged by public petitioners at any time of day or night, the Lincolns found the quiet green oasis a place of peace and comfort. They slept there just days after their first inauguration, and on the night before the President was killed. Lincoln made some of his most momentous decisions there, including formulating the Emancipation Proclamation, and he read the Bible, poetry, and Shakespeare on its breezy porch. One historian described the Soldiers’ Home cottage as “The only place we are certain Lincoln was happy during his Presidency.”
After being largely forgotten for generations, the cottage was preserved and opened to the public by a private nonprofit, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Funds were raised to restore the building and interpret it for visitors, with real-estate developer and philanthropist Robert H. Smith being the primary donor. United Technologies Corporation provided $1 million and technical expertise to help create the nearby visitor center. Matthew and Ellen Simmons, Save America’s Treasures, and many other foundations and individuals also contributed. Lincoln’s Cottage opened for fascinating public tours in 2008.
- President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home, lincolncottage.org
ACR Summit for Leaders
ACR Summit for Leaders
March 18, 2015
8:00 - 10:50 a.m.
Breakfast available at 7:30 a.m.
Washington Court Hotel
525 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20001
In 2014, we saw the release of a 1000-page tax reform draft, a new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and an election that shifted the balance of power in Congress. What can we expect in 2015? With new chairmen for both the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees– former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) respectively – we expect next year to be another significant year for tax policy.
With so many tax issues still to be debated, nothing is completely on or off the table. Given the new political landscape, now is not the time for the philanthropic community to stay on the sidelines. We hope you will join us at the 2015 ACR Summit for Leaders to learn about what we can do to protect private giving and educate lawmakers about the critical role of charitable organizations in a free society.
Registration: To register for the ACR Summit as well as other events of Philanthropy Week in Washington, click here.
What’s My Line?
As we anticipate another round of tax reform efforts on the Hill, we’ll have a bit of fun with messaging around the charitable deduction while still conveying the critical importance of communicating to Congress that this part of our tax code must be protected. In this session four speakers will deliver four different messages about the charitable deduction and audience members will vote for the most persuasive message. The presenters and moderator are all members of the Charitable Giving Coalition, which has provided a unique and unified voice on Capitol Hill on issues affecting the charitable deduction since 2009.
- Andy Finch, Director of Policy, Association of Art Museum Directors
- Gloria Johnson-Cusack, Executive Director, Leadership 18
- Sue Santa, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs, Council on Foundations
- Steve Taylor, Senior Vice President and Counsel for Public Policy, United Way Worldwide
- Tim Delaney, President and CEO, National Council of Nonprofits (moderator)
2015 ushered in the first Republican Congressional majority in eight years as well as two new Chairmen for the tax-writing committees. Both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have expressed strong interest in undertaking comprehensive tax reform this year, and indeed their committees have already taken up tax legislation impacting the philanthropic community. We will hear an “insiders” perspective from Congressional staff on what lies ahead and how our sector can inform the debate.
- Preston Rutledge, Tax Counsel, Senate Finance Committee Majority Staff
- Paul Poteet, Senior Tax Policy Advisor, Office of Senator John Thune (R-SD)
- Additional Congressional Staff, TBD
- Sandra Swirski, Executive Director, Alliance for Charitable Reform (moderator)
The Congressional panel will be off the record.
The Dating Game
Sharing our stories with policymakers often means talking about place-based philanthropy – that special relationship between grantmakers and communities. Sometimes the focus is on the place a donor once – or still – calls home. Other times, the special place is a neighborhood, a town, a state, a region, even a country, where a particular challenge resonates with one’s philanthropic mission. In this session speakers representing individual donors, a community foundation, and a private foundation will present their stories of place-based philanthropy and discuss how those stories can build strong and sustained relationships with federal, state, and local public officials.
- Barbara Harman, President and Editor, Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington
- Thomas Riley, Vice President for Strategy, Connelly Foundation
- Jennifer Leonard, President and CEO, Rochester Area Community Foundation
- Joanne Florino, Senior Vice President for Public Policy, The Philanthropy Roundtable (moderator)
Philanthropic Achievement of the Week
1903: Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Ellen Browning Scripps, whose fortune derived from the Scripps family’s newspaper empire, generously supported a range of charitable causes across Southern California. She donated the land and first building for a Catholic college-prep school for girls, and supported it financially for years. She endowed what would become Scripps College, a part of the Claremont Colleges that she had helped to found. She commissioned a Women’s Club’s headquarters and community center, and the country’s first public playground, in La Jolla. She funded Egyptian explorations that resulted in the San Diego Museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection. She founded the Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic.
Nature philanthropy was one of Ellen Scripps’ favorite causes. She helped preserve the area that would become Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. She was a financer of the new headquarters of the San Diego Natural History Museum. She gave the San Diego Zoo an aviary and an animal research hospital. And in 1903, she underwrote the founding the Marine Biological Association of San Diego. Ellen gave it a sizeable endowment, and the Scripps family provided its entire operating budget for a decade until it was taken over by the University of California at San Diego and renamed the Scripps Institution of Oceanography—which is today one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers in the world for research, education, and public service on the oceans, earth, and atmosphere.
- History of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, https://scripps.ucsd.edu/about/history
ACR News 02.20.15 - House and Senate Advance Charity Legislation
>> Federal: Senate Finance Committee Approves Charitable Bills
>> Federal: Tax Reform Talk Continues
>> Federal: ACR Summit
>> Consider This: What is the end game?
>> Top Reads: Obama Budget Again Calls for Limit to Charitable Deduction
Before leaving town for the Presidents’ Day recess, the House passed H.R. 644 – the America Gives More Act of 2015 – by a vote of 279 to 137. This bill would streamline the private foundation excise tax to a flat one percent (a longstanding ACR priority) while also making permanent the IRA charitable rollover, the deduction for conservation easements, and the deduction for gifts of food inventory.
The vote fell generally along party lines, with Democrats objecting because the bill is not paid for, and because they would like to take up tax provisions through a comprehensive tax reform effort. However, upon passage of the bill, Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Congress needs to “get off this merry-go-round” of continually renewing various tax incentives. “We all know that businesses and charities need the kind of certainty that we are providing,” Ryan added.
At this time, it is unclear whether the Senate will take up H.R. 644.
Last Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee marked up and approved a package of 17 miscellaneous tax bills by voice vote, three of which impact the nonprofit sector. The first applies the charitable deduction to agricultural research organizations, the second creates an exception to the excess business holdings rules for certain philanthropic business holdings, and the third is a bill sponsored by Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) that requires the IRS to give nonprofit organizations advance notice if their 501(c)(3) status is in jeopardy. You may recall that ACR wrote a letter of support for the Coats bill last June.
Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he plans to hold similar markups “in the near future,” though he has not identified another block of bills to advance in the same way. Hatch also noted that any bill the committee would take up in this context must “have bipartisan support and be non-controversial to both sides.”
On February 13, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters that tax reform must be “done by summer,” otherwise it will be difficult to move. He also said he favors comprehensive tax reform over business-only reform, but added that he is “open” to doing it in phases. According to Ryan, business tax reform could be the bulk of “phase one” of the process, and “phase two” could be to “finish the job of comprehensive tax reform” further down the road.
Across the Capitol, a spokeswoman for Chairman Hatch said that the committee is continuing to look at tax reform through the small working groups unveiled last month. The working groups are expected to begin holding roundtables in mid-April. Chairman Hatch said recently that he believes “there is real momentum to get something done on tax reform this year if we remain committed…And, believe me, I’m committed.” He added that the committee will begin tax reform efforts with the business side of the code: “We’re going to go forward with [tax reform], but we’re going to start on the business tax [side] first since [the President] requested that,” he said. He did not provide an exact timeline for action.
Lastly, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on February 10 featuring former Chairman Bob Packwood (R-OR) and former committee member Bill Bradley (D-NJ) to discuss lessons Congress can learn from the comprehensive Tax Reform Act of 1986. Both Packwood and Bradley attributed their success to a commitment towards bipartisanship and the pursuit of comprehensive reform as opposed to strictly corporate tax reform. They also stressed the importance of leadership from the White House.
You are invited to the sixth annual ACR Summit for Leaders.
With so many tax issues still to be debated, nothing is completely on or off the table. Now is not the time for the philanthropic community to stay on the sidelines. We hope you will join us at the 2015 ACR Summit for Leaders to learn what we can do to protect private giving and educate lawmakers about the critical role of charitable organizations in a free society.
Registration: To register for the ACR Summit as well as other events during Philanthropy Week in Washington, click here. Attendance is free.
Washington is officially exhausted after having Congress in town for the last six weeks. What does Congress have to show for it?
In the tax world, there has been an excess of activity without clear and coordinated goals over the last month and a half. The House has been passing bills making various tax provisions permanent, but those bills aren’t likely to be taken up by the Senate. Meanwhile, House Republican Ways and Means members had a retreat to talk about taxes in general and tax reform specifically. As far as we can tell, they did not really return with a plan.
On the Senate side, the Finance Committee is plowing ahead on tax reform. The committee has divvied up the work into five areas and is hoping to make recommendations by Memorial Day. In a hearing last week, two of the key architects of the last big tax reform effort in 1986, Senators Packwood (R-OR) and Bradley (D-NJ) testified. When asked what is really needed to get tax reform across the finish line, Senator Packwood said a President that leans in to the effort. Senator Bradley told the committee that if the members cannot come to some agreement on raising or not raising revenue, they are never going to get anywhere and should spend their time doing something else. If those two things are true, the committee may be working toward, but never really getting to, the desired end result of reform. All signs point to reform not being high on the President’s list of priorities and there is no real agreement on whether tax reform should or should not be revenue neutral.
We don’t really know how all of this will shake out. With Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, we thought we’d see a little more coordination on the tax front. We certainly think they feel pressure to get something done to prove they’ve earned their majority. All of that may still come to pass. However, for now the end game is murky. We expect a clearer sense of where all of this is going by Memorial Day and we will be sure to keep you updated.
- National: Republicans, Democrats Agree on Tax Issue; Winter Storm Warning Issued for Hell
- National: Cardin, Coats Introduce Bill to Help Charities
- National: Coats Proposes Notification of Tax Status to Nonprofits
- National: House Passes Schock Bill Making Tax-Free IRA Contributions Permanent
- National: Coats Charity Bill Passes Finance Committee
- National: The Tax Perks of Charitable Giving
- National: House Passes Bill to Extend Charitable-Giving Tax Credits
- Local: Idaho could join the list of states creating legal space for mission-driven businesses
- Opinion: Obama Charity Tax Proposal: Hurting the Ones Who Love Him
- Opinion: America gives more—or not?
- ACR Blog: Charity Bills Pass House of Representatives, Senate Finance Committee
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