Advocacy and Policy Work
Building and renewing meaningful connections with policymakers is an essential component of our work. We work with our own members, our Colorado partners and with our many colleagues in our national network, United Philanthropy Forum, to collaborate in our advocacy activities. Our long-time involvement in the Forum’s PolicyWorks for Philanthropy Initiative continues to strengthen our ability to:
- Educate policymakers about the work, value and impact of foundations
- Advise policymakers about potential legislation or regulation that could harm the sector and decrease much needed philanthropic dollars
- Gain policymakers’ support for legislation that could support the growth and effectiveness of philanthropy; and
- Build partnerships with policymakers to achieve policy reforms that improve the quality of life for those that foundations seek to serve
Examples of our policy positions
Our mission is to strengthen communities by bringing people, information and resources together. We can only achieve our goals if state and federal policies advance the work of our sector. This includes tax policy that encourages charitable giving to nonprofit organizations that support communities across our state, but we also take positions on other matters of importance to the sector. Some of our key positions and legislative proposals are listed below.
Creating a charitable deduction for all taxpayers at all income levels: Read the March 2022 Hearing Statement from Philanthropy Colorado urging Congress to provide charitable giving incentives to the vast majority of taxpayers who take the standard deduction rather than itemizing.
For more than a century, a federal tax deduction has been available for charitable donations by taxpayers who itemize on their annual returns. The recent doubling of the standard deduction effectively eliminates the incentive for millions of households, contibuting to a troubling decline in giving. A universally available deduction for charitable gifts woudl restore the tax incentive for millions of Americans and help charitable organizations continue raising the funds they need to achieve their critical missions.
Join Philanthropy Colorado in supporting the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act. Access a sample support email and letter to sign on.
Join Philanthropy Colorado in supporting the Nonprofit Strength and Partnership Act, which calls for the creation of a White House Office of Nonprofit Partnerships and the regular release of data regarding the sector. Read the Endorsement Letter and signatories.
Expanding the IRA charitable rollover to allow contributions to donor-advised funds:
The IRA charitable rollover was passed by Congress and signed into permanent law on December 18, 2015 as part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. Though this legislative victory marked a momentous occasion for philanthropy, it failed to acknowledge that community foundations make as much as two-thirds of their grants from donor-advised funds allowing Americans to remain involved in supporting the causes and issues they care about. Community foundations, in particular, enable people to “give where they live” through such tools, and employ subject-matter experts with in-depth community knowledge to manage donor-advised funds.
Simplifying the excise tax on private foundations:
- We successfully advocated for a flat tax that eliminated a two-tier system that served as a disincentive to increased giving, especially in times of crisis or economic turmoil. The previous approach created a tax-induced incentive to reduce contributions in difficult times because high distribution made it more difficult to qualify for the lower rate during the next 5 years. In that scenario, when a foundation’s assets were reduced, it subjected itself to higher tax rates in future years unless it also reduced the dollar amount of its giving.
- A flat excise tax helped to simplify monitoring and tax planning, especially for smaller foundations that may lack resources for complex financial planning.
Support the right of nonprofits to advocate, while opposing their ability to engage in partisan politics: We favor current rules and regularions that allow charitable organizations to be involved in policy debates and lobbying. We oppose attempts to weaken or repeal the 60-year law known as the Johnson Amendment which
bars nonprofits from endorsing or financially supporting political candidates.
State of Colorado
Working in partnership with the Colorado Nonprofit Association, we supported the creation of a state tax credit for gifts to endowments held by nonprofits and community foundations. The purpose of the tax credit would be to support long-term community and economic development throughout Colorado. With the forthcoming transfer of wealth, the credit would create an opportunity to encourage donations of considerable assets to nonprofits and community foundations. Such donations would provide sustainable funding to support community services provided by nonprofits including education, health and social services and cultural and civic engagement.
Governor Polis, Coloradans Launch COVID Relief Fund
Philanthropy Colorado stood with Governor Jared Polis in the formation of a statewide Colorado COVID Relief Fund. Read the Governor's news announcement quoting Philanthropy Colorado and its members Colorado Health Foundation and Mile High United Way. Philanthropy Colorado's CEO, Joanne Kelley, served on the Executive Committee, Leadership Committee and Process Committee for the Statewide Relief Fund that raised $25 million million from foundations, businesses and individuals. The relief fund effort brought together community, business and foundation leaders to review and allocate funding to organizations across the state working on prevention, impact and recovery from the pandemic. Learn more about Philanthropy Colorado's COVID-19 advocacy and the COVID Relief Fund response.