Sep 29, 2014
Philanthropic Achievement of the Week
1997- Olin College of Engineering
Franklin Olin didn’t finish school, but he was mechanically gifted and studied on his own so that at age 22 he passed the entrance exam for Cornell University, where he studied engineering. He proved to be a natural entrepreneur, and when Olin died in 1951 his bequest made his foundation one of the largest in the nation. For years, the F. W. Olin Foundation supported science and engineering projects; then the trustees decided to create a brand-new college to offer students Franklin-Olin-style twists on engineering. The Olin College of Engineering, chartered in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1997, particularly aimed to make its engineers more creative, more entrepreneurial, more interdisciplinary and comfortable working in teams, and equipped with better communications skills. All of these elements were lacking in traditional engineering training.
The foundation committed $200 million to start the fledgling school—at the time a record in higher education. They located Olin adjacent to Babson College, one of the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship schools, and 25 percent of Olin students are simultaneously taking classes at Babson or nearby Wellesley College. To help produce a culture of change and innovation, faculty members are untenured. Only 16 percent of applying students are admitted, and 41 percent of alums go on to advanced study. Olin graduates soon ranked among the top winners of National Science Foundation graduate fellowships and Fulbright scholarships.
When it closed its doors for good in 2005, the Olin Foundation transferred the balance of its endowment—over $250 million—to the college. With a total of $460 million in gifts from its founder, the college gives all students a half-tuition scholarship. Olin’s fresh approach to engineering has inspired wide interest and imitation. More than 50 universities send observers to the campus annually. Nine are now revising their programs along Olin’s lines. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, all engineering freshmen have begun following a program that borrows from Olin courses.
Could these changes have been triggered without creating a new privately funded model college? The college’s founding president, Richard Miller, is doubtful. “The National Science Foundation spent around $100 million over 10 years to provoke this kind of change on large campuses in the 1990s. After five or six years, they ended it—concluding that its penetration into universities was disappointing…. I view Mr. Olin as a great example…. He was an entrepreneur, he was educated as an engineer, and he was motivated to do things to create opportunities for others. We are doing all that we know how to do to inspire the graduates of Olin to follow along that path.”
Philanthropy magazine article, philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/excellence_in_philanthropy/new_u
Opinion: Dark Money
In an editorial published Wednesday by National Review Online, Bill Zeiser, a Ph.D. student at Hillsdale College, takes on the task of explaining the critical role of anonymous giving to philanthropic privacy. Zeiser cites an article authored by Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable, about the misconceptions surrounding so-called ‘dark money,’ the role anonymous donations play in upholding freedom of association, and the necessity of protecting a charitable donor’s identity in a thriving civil society.
“So-called ‘dark money’ illuminates our society,” writes Adam Meyerson of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting donor intent. He points to the 1958 Supreme Court case of NAACP v. Alabama, in which the Court unanimously ruled that if the civil-rights organization were forced to disclose its membership, supporters might be subjected to “economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility,” thereby restraining “their right to freedom of association.” Meyerson extended this justification to philanthropic privacy, reminding critics of both DonorsTrust and Tides that “the right to privacy enjoyed by contributors to donor-advised funds is no different than the right to privacy that governs the overwhelming majority of charitable giving.” Meyerson listed some of the reasons donors might wish to remain anonymous, including “to protect themselves from unwanted solicitations, to protect their children from knowledge of their family’s wealth,” and most resoundingly to protect their “freedom to support controversial organizations without fear of reprisal or ostracism” like NAACP donors of old.”
Click here to read Zeiser’s full editorial.
Sep 25, 2014
ACR Blog: The 2014 Philanthropy Roundtable Annual Meeting
The Philanthropy Roundtable Annual Meeting is quickly approaching. On October 9 and 10 we’ll be in Salt Lake City, Utah to explore meaningful and effective giving that solves our nation’s greatest problems.
Click below for a five minute video interview with Lindsay Miller, our managing director of events, discussing what’s in store.
Sep 23, 2014
Philanthropic Achievement of the Week
1937- The Guggenheim
Solomon Guggenheim was born into a wealthy mining family, and expanded his fortune through his own mining ventures. He turned to philanthropy full time after the First World War. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was launched in 1937 “to promote the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods, and to collect, conserve, and study the art of our time.” It opened its first museum in 1939, showcasing samples of Guggenheim’s unusual collection. The foundation consistently promoted Solomon’s interest in the current, the abstract, and the unusual, even in its buildings.
Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a larger home for the museum in 1943. It was finished in 1959 and opened as the renamed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. A spiraling cylinder, the building is one of the most iconic of modern structures.
The collection continued to grow through the ‘50s and ‘60s, and during the 1970s Peggy Guggenheim (Solomon’s niece) added her own considerable collection of abstract and Surrealist art. Upon Peggy’s death in 1978, the foundation began to expand to multiple sites around the world (the Spanish and upcoming Abu Dhabi locations designed by architect Frank Gehry). Today, the collective aggregate of what is colloquially known as the Guggenheim represents one of the most formidable assemblages of modern art and architecture in the world.
The Guggenheim, History, guggenheim.org/guggenheim-foundation/history
CGC Thanks Ryan in Letter for Comments Supporting Charitable Deduction
Coalition Also Expresses Concern Over Floor, AGI Limitation, Evaluation
The Charitable Giving Coalition sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today thanking him for his comments supporting the value of the charitable deduction. Ryan has voiced support in recent interviews for avoiding a cap on the charitable deduction.
The coalition also reiterated concerns in the letter over proposed provisions in House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-MI) Tax Reform Act of 2014 that would implement a two percent floor on the charitable deduction, streamline adjusted gross income limitations, and require gifts of property to be evaluated according to basis instead of fair market value.
ACR News 09.19.14—Congress Returns, Camp Plan Effect on Charitable Giving
>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: Tax Extenders Delayed
>> Federal: Urban Institute Releases Report
>> Federal: Consider This
>> Top Reads: Study finds Camp’s tax reform would reduce charitable giving
Congress returned to Washington last week after the summer recess, but only briefly. Members will leave town late this week to return to their districts to campaign before the elections on November 4. During this short work period, leadership in both the House and Senate addressed only a few ‘must-do’ items. These included a bill to fund the government beyond the end of September to avert a government shutdown. On Wednesday, the House passed its bill to keep the government open through December 11, which also included provisions to address the recent Ebola crisis, renewed the operating authority for the Export-Import Bank through June 30, 2015, and extended the Internet Tax Freedom Act through December 11. The Senate passed the bill without amendments on Thursday, 78 to 22.
Congress officially delayed action on tax extenders, the 60-plus annually expiring tax provisions, until after the November elections. The issue received some attention this week when the House introduced a comprehensive jobs package that contained four popular corporate tax extenders that the House made permanent earlier this year. But the Senate did not take up the legislation during this work period.
As for the rest of these tax extenders, the House remains committed to its approach of addressing each provision individually and making select extenders permanent. As you may recall, in July, the House passed H.R. 4719 – the America Gives More Act – which would make permanent three charitable tax extenders: the IRA charitable rollover, the enhanced deduction for conservation easements, and the enhanced deduction for food donations. H.R. 4719 also included two other provisions that are not tax extenders but have long been ACR priorities: the streamlining of the private foundation excise tax to a flat one percent rate, and giving donors until April 15 to make charitable donations for the previous calendar year.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), however, said he remains committed to passing a two-year extension of expired tax incentives, much like the bill he negotiated with Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and passed out of committee last April. As of now, it is unclear how the House and Senate will reconcile their two approaches but some Senate aides speculate that there could be an appetite in the Senate for permanently extending a few select provisions – the ones with the most bipartisan support – and authorizing a two-year renewal for the rest.
Last week, the Urban Institute released an analysis of the impact that House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform draft would have on charitable giving. The study found that the full combination of Chairman Camp’s proposed changes could decrease charitable giving between $17 billion and $34 billion per year. More specifically, the study found that implementing just the 2% of adjusted gross income (AGI) floor, combined with a lower maximum limit for cash gifts of 40% of AGI, would decrease giving by up to $10.6 billion. These are staggering numbers and reinforce the need to continue to communicate with lawmakers about the importance and need for the charitable deduction.
As you may recall, Urban Institute Fellow Dr. Eugene Steuerle, one author of this new report, is also a member of the ACR Advisory Council. In an interview with ACR in July, Dr. Steuerle explained how the tax policy included in the draft affects the charitable sector and offered his thoughts on provisions that would help strengthen it.
With fewer than 50 days to go, we appear to be in a near coin toss for control of the Senate.
So what is really at stake in November? Not the continued Republican control of the House because that seems like a done deal. It is all about the Senate and the set-up for the Presidential election in 2016. Although we obsess over any tidbit related to the toss-up Senate seats, we know in our heart that the stakes are not nearly as high as our level of focus.
Make no mistake about it, controlling the Senate means, to a large degree, controlling the conversation. The majority party schedules the time of the Senate floor for legislation it wants to bring up and also shapes the committee hearings, including the witnesses called to testify. However, even if the Senate does flip, the margins will almost certainly be so close that it will be near impossible to get very much done. And there is a better than even chance that if Republicans take back control of the Senate in 2014, Democrats will wrestle back the chamber in 2016 because of the number of seats that will be up for grabs. In 2014, 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans are up for election while in 2016 that flips to 10 Democrats and 24 Republicans.
What will it mean to us if Republicans take control of the Senate and Senator Hatch (R-UT) takes the gavel of the Finance Committee? While both Senator Hatch and current Chairman Wyden (D-OR) can be expected to pursue tax reform in the next Congress, both have been true friends of our sector and we don’t expect much to change. Despite the dysfunction in Washington, we will continue to press our issues in a bipartisan, bicameral way and look to them for help in that regard.
- National: Study finds Camp’s tax reform would reduce charitable giving
- National: Study: Camp’s Tax Reform Plan Could Cut Charitable Giving By 14 Percent
- National: The Janitor Who Became a Major Donor
- National: In Memoriam: Truett Cathy 1921-2014
- National: E-mails show IRS attempts at damage control
- National: Emails Raise New Questions About IRS Targeting
- Local: Charitable giving helps individuals, economy, community
- Local: Michigan tax fix bill gets final approval
- ACR Blog: Constitution Day
- ACR Blog: Honoring the Families of the Victims of September 11
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