Wednesday, January 18, 2017

100 Years of Giving DC Fly-In Day is Feb. 16!

I talked in my last blog about how much uncertainty the fundraising profession and the charitable sector are facing this year, especially as it relates to government relations and public policy. I also said that we’re committed to implementing an aggressive campaign to not only defend the charitable deduction this year, but also to increase giving incentives.

The first step in that campaign is already here, as I’m proud to announce that the Charitable Giving Coalition (which AFP chairs) is holding the 100 Years of Giving DC Fly-In on Feb. 16.

All AFP members are invited to attend and help us educate members of Congress about why now, after 100 years since the charitable deduction was signed into law, philanthropy needs to be strengthened and enhanced. We will hold an evening event on Wed., Feb. 15th, to provide training and updated information for attendees to prepare them for the next day

Our message is simple: In any tax reform plan, philanthropy and the charitable deduction MUST be protected. In addition, we’re going to be calling for an “above the line” universal charitable deduction that all taxpayers, even non-itemizers, can take when calculating their taxes.

We’ll be focusing our meetings on Senate and House leaders, as well as members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, the tax-writing committees of Congress that will be considering tax reform. But we’ll help you plan to visit your own Member of Congress as well.

For additional information about the event, click here. To RSVP, contact Ali Davidson with your name, organization and state/Congressional district at adavidson@urbanswirski.com. And if you’re going to participate, please let AFP know by emailing paffairs@afpnet.org.

As a leader in the philanthropic sector, APF has a responsibility to ensure that philanthropy isn’t just protected, but advanced, and that policy leaders understand WHY the deduction is critical and works so well to fund countless causes across the U.S. I hope that you’ll be able to join us for this very important event, and be on the outlook for more messages and alerts about public policy from AFP throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ringing in 2017 With Certainty in Uncertain Times

Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a great holiday season. So many of you were working right down to the wire on December 31st, inspiring last-minute gifts—I hope that you had some time to relax and recuperate before getting back to work in 2017.

The New Year always brings it shares of predictions for the next 12 months, and you can read any number of those posts from some great fundraisers across the Web (you can check out a few of those in this week’s AFP Top Ten).

Of course, any prediction comes with a bit of uncertainty, and that word, “uncertainty,” certainly seems to define 2017. It’s difficult to recall another year with so much uncertainty about the economy and government policy towards charities and philanthropy. In the current environment, it is possible that Congress could make significant changes to the tax code, including the charitable deduction. With a different approach to economic policy from President-Elect Trump, we are curious to see how that will impact giving levels, especially at a time when we’ve seen strong growth in recent years. 

Meanwhile, we continue to push for new giving incentives in Canada, but we have much work ahead of us as we encourage Parliament to enact those incentives, such as exemptions from the capital gains tax on gifts of publicly traded securities.

Despite this overall uncertainty, there are a few things you CAN be certain of this year. And they start with your fundraising community: AFP. Throughout the year, we are going to:

  • Offer new training and education, including pre-conference workshops, the International Advanced Diploma, and webinars and e-courses focusing on innovations and the skills you need to succeed;
  • Implement an advocacy campaign to ensure that charitable giving incentives are not only protected, but also strengthened and enhanced in North America;
  • Strengthen the work of our three Foundations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico;
  • Provide communications focused on you, your expertise and your level of experience; and
  • Highlight the impact of fundraising to the public, bolstered by a new strategic plan and new mission and vision statements. 

The last point is particularly important. Having gone through a series of branding studies and surveys, we’re shifting about how we talk about the profession and the work you do. We’re not going to stop providing top-notch education and training—if anything, that’s going to increase. But we’re also going to emphasize the societal change that you help create.

Donors certainly want to know that fundraisers are ethical, trained and professional—that’s without question. But what ultimately matters to them is impact: how they can work with your organization to make a difference. After all, that’s why they (and you!) got involved in philanthropy in the first place—to help change the world.

And that’s what we want to celebrate. The impact you have on your communities through your professionalism and training—through the skills and knowledge you use with every donor, and the ethical standards and best practices you uphold every day. Fundraisers are the catalyst—the engine—that drives philanthropy, and it’s that link that we want to spotlight throughout 2017.

There’s a lot of uncertainty heading into 2017, but we’re excited about bringing all of these new changes and programming to you, and being able to help you inspire donors and create impact throughout the year. As we roll out new programs and communications, feel free to drop me a line anytime and give me your feedback and opinion. You are our partners and the heart of our association, and I always want to hear from you.

Let’s work together to make 2017 an exceptional year for fundraising and philanthropy.