Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Force for Unity in Polarizing Times

Any election brings change—some more than others. But change is something that AFP always is prepared for, particularly when it comes to public policy. Regardless of who is president, or which party is in control of Congress, we view fundraising, philanthropy, and charity as nonpartisan. We work to ensure that all parties and officials understand and support philanthropy because it is a symbol and a tradition that cuts across all ideologies and ultimately, brings good to all Americans.

It’s an important principle that becomes even more critical in the aftermath of one of the most politically polarizing and exhausting elections ever. We shouldn’t forget that the charitable sector has long been a key force for bringing people together—to build bridges to understanding and to encourage cooperation and collaboration. Philanthropy creates common ground. We can agree upon causes worth supporting or a vital program or service that needs funding. Through philanthropy, we often realize that we have more in common than we think.

In that spirit, AFP will continue to work with all political parties to preserve and promote the extraordinary, long-standing tradition of philanthropy in America, Canada, and other parts of the globe.

We'll be reaching out to all new Members of Congress to educate them about the importance of philanthropy, as well as talking with Senate Finance and House Ways and Means staff about the prospects of tax reform in 2017.

President-elect Trump has already indicated his interest in revamping the tax code, although his initial tax plan, while vague on some details, appeared to not directly limit the charitable deduction. However, his plan did increase the impact of the Pease Limitation on itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction, for certain taxpayers. This penalty for high-income taxpayers could result in a decrease in charitable giving. In a letter sent earlier this year, AFP urged Mr. Trump and other presidential candidates to reconsider the inclusion of the increased Pease Limitation in their tax plans. We’ll be sending him another letter in the near future, discussing again the importance of philanthropy and charitable giving incentives.

What ultimately emerges from the White House and Congress in terms of tax policy is anyone’s guess at this point, but we will be ready. AFP will be busy on Capitol Hill over the next several months, and we’ll need your help on the grassroots level as well. I encourage all AFP members to reach out to their members of Congress, especially individuals just recently elected, and educate them about the importance of philanthropy. We’ll be developing some talking points and guidance on talking with your legislators about these issues.

Regardless of the election results, our work must continue: ensuring that public policy reflects the importance of fundraising and philanthropy in our society.

Democracy works best when people work together and strive to have a positive impact on our communities. And that is your strength—your ability to reach out to different groups and unite our governments and our leaders around an environment supportive of giving, volunteering, and fundraising.