What Happened at Foundations on the Hill 2022

April 20, 2022

Every spring, United Philanthropy Forum, Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector convene philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) like Forefront from across the United States for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH).

During FOTH, foundation executives meet with Congressional officials to discuss the importance of the philanthropic sector and create visibility for foundations and philanthropy on Capitol Hill. Alongside our Illinois foundation partners, Forefront uses our influence to persuade elected officials to support important legislation for our sector and our communities and inform them about the unique and vital role that charitable giving plays in America.

FOTH 2022 took place in April and began with a three-day virtual conference hosted by UPF. The three-week period following the conference consisted of Congressional meetings. As the Policy and Advocacy Liaison (PAL) for Illinois, Forefront’s Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Holly Ambuehl, scheduled meetings with fifteen congressional offices.

Holly assembled a team of foundation executives representing Congressional districts across Illinois, including private, family, public, and community foundations, to meet with their representatives. Holly also coordinated messaging and supplied detailed agendas and talking points. The entire Illinois delegation met for a virtual planning meeting to assign speakers for each meeting and familiarize themselves with legislative proposals.

Meeting with Rep. Lauren Underwood and her staff (US House District 14)

The 2022 Illinois Delegation

Foundations of all sizes and types from every corner of Illinois participated in Foundations on the Hill in 2022, showcasing the sector’s depth and diversity of thought. Thank you to these foundations for their time and efforts:

Community Foundations

Forefront offers a scholarship to community foundations to ensure they are adequately represented at FOTH. In years when FOTH occurs in person, this includes the cost of travel. In 2022, Forefront provided three Illinois community foundations with scholarships to offset the registration fee.

Other Family, Private or Public Foundations

Meeting with Senator Dick Durbin’s Economic Policy team.

Meetings with Congressional Officials

In 2022, we secured meetings with 13 Congressional offices and both Illinois State Senators, covering most of the State and crossing both sides of the aisle. We are grateful to the staff of these offices for helping to coordinate these important conversations and engaging in thoughtful discussion, and to Representatives Boat, Danny Davis, Garcia, Krishnamoorthi, LaHood, and Underwood for attending the meetings personally. Read more about the Congressional officials we met in 2022 on their websites, and sign up for their emails to stay in touch. (Note that some of these districts will change before FOTH 2023.)

Meeting with Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s staff in both Illinois and Washington, DC.

2022 Legislative Priorities

At each Congressional meeting, foundation executives discussed the following federal proposals, with technical support from Forefront staff.

  • Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act – H.R.1704 / S.618:  This bipartisan legislation would restore and raise the non-itemizer charitable deduction to roughly $4,000 individual/$8,000 joint, ensuring that all taxpayers continue to have access to giving incentives and that charitable organizations have the financial stability they need to achieve their missions and support their workforces.
  • Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act (Bill #s pending):  The nonprofit sector is America’s third-largest employer, but it has no formal seat at the table within government. This bill creates a White House Office on Nonprofit Sector Partnership, Interagency Council, and Advisory Board to craft and implement better solutions for all. Review the draft bill and a section-by-section summary here (see right sidebar). This letter lists the endorsing organizations including Forefront, and this fact sheet covers the basics of the bill. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Fred Upton (R-MI) are slated to be chief sponsors.
  • Workforce Development Through Post-Graduation Scholarships Act H.R.4095 / S.2191. This bill defines post-graduation scholarship grants as a charitable activity and excludes post-graduation scholarship grants from an individual’s taxable income. It also includes provisions ensuring that the scholarships benefit the communities most in need of workers. Supported by the Council on Foundations and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, this bill helps bolster our sector’s workforce and build upon the work done at the state level through the adoption of HR26in 2021. Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood is the Chief House Sponsor. (Also note that the National Council of Nonprofits is working hard on nonprofit workforce issues at the national level.)
  • Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act – S.1981 / H.R.6595. To quote the Council on Foundations, “the ACE Act would modify existing rules relating to donor-advised funds (DAFS), make certain changes to the rules for the excise tax on undistributed income of private foundations, and exempt certain private foundations from the excise tax on investment income.” This is a complex bill. At FOTH meetings, we asked staff and officials to contact us again for a longer conversation before casting a vote. Opinions within the sector vary, and decision-makers should include the sector and charitable organizations that would be directly impacted by such reforms. Forefront has not taken a position on the ACE Act. The legislation has generated both strong support and opposition; supporters include Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the National Center for Family Philanthropy, the Philanthropy Roundtable, and the Jewish Federations of North America. Opponents include Ford, Kellogg, and Kresge. Also see this joint statement of concerns, Council on Foundations’ summary and recommendations to strengthen community philanthropy and the use of donor-advised funds (DAFs), and CalNonprofits’ working draft Principles for the Reform of Policies Governing Philanthropy.

In addition to the bills above, participants discussed the Transfer of Wealth Study, the Illinois Partners for Human Service 2021 Workforce Report, Congressionally Directed Spending, and other related issues that arose organically. Participants also offered examples of how they are working to improve racial equity within their own organizations and their communities, and how they helped tackle the challenges of the COVID era.

An intimate conversation with Rep. Chuy Garcia from US House District 4 and his staff.

Next steps

In the coming weeks and months, Forefront staff will follow up with Congressional offices to encourage them to co-sponsor and support these proposals where applicable. Bookmark Forefront’s federal agenda page to track related developments. When major legislation moves or passes, Forefront will update foundation partners and other stakeholders through our communications and educational programming. And we are already thinking about FOTH 2023, which will be in-person in Washington DC, February 27-March 1, 2023. Mark your calendars now, and we look forward to your participation next year!

Rep. Darin LaHood (US-18) is sponsor of HR4095, which addresses student debt and workforce shortages.


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