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Amplifying the Voice of Community Foundations

The Challenge:

To provide community foundations with their own, distinct, voice in Washington, D.C.

The Story:

In 2012, Van Scoyoc Associates began working with a small number of community foundations frustrated by the lack of attention given to issues important to them. Our vision was to develop a community foundation “brand” in Washington. At our recommendation, the Community Foundations Public Awareness Initiative (CFPAI) was created to educate Congress about community foundations specifically and highlight the good work they are doing.

We quickly started to establish the CFPAI as a thought leader through a series of “fly-ins” and “phone-ins.” By connecting Foundation Presidents with their local Members of Congress, who also held key positions on the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, we carved out a leadership role for CFPAI on issues related to community foundations.

For nearly a decade, community foundations have been hampered by a provision prohibiting IRA charitable rollover gifts to donor-advised funds. The CFPAI has spearheaded efforts to repeal this provision, working with the Senate Finance Committee to ensure unanimous support of the repeal at the next opportunity. We also secured the support of over 50 foundation presidents in submitting the only official response to the 2014 proposal included in former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp’s tax reform discussion draft requiring all donor-advised funds to disgorge within five years. As more and more foundations have joined the Initiative, we have become more active on other issues including inactive fund policies, how donor-advised funds promote civic engagement, and on local advocacy issues important to individual communities.

The Outcome:

In just four years, the CFPAI has grown to include nearly 100 community foundations from 45 states. It is one of the most respected advocacy entities in the charitable space, and is the first call Congressional staff make on issues related to community foundations.

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