Yesterday we re-published Pablo Eisenberg’s 21 December column from the Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled ‘Nonprofits Should Focus on Gun Control-Not Donor Tax Breaks’. Andrew Watt’s 5 January blog post on the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ blog, though couched differently, makes a similar point as he urges non-profits to ‘move the discussion to a higher level’ and ‘look beyond talk of tax reform to a consideration of big ideas: comprehensive proposals and radical initiatives to reignite philanthropy and rebuild our communities around the world’.
I’ve talked previously – both on the AFP blog and in The Chronicle of Philanthropy – about the debate for the charitable deduction being just the first conversation in a larger discussion about reinventing philanthropy in the US and around the world.
I suppose you can say we ‘won’ the first round of the battle, in the sense that the charitable deduction was spared in the fiscal cliff bill. Not only was the deduction kept nearly entirely intact, but the IRA Rollover provision was included, another important giving incentive that can result in billions of dollars given to charity.
But to use words like ‘battle’ and ‘won’ mischaracterizes what our aim should be. We’re not here to pit one side against another. That’s what’s hurting us right now – too many different ideas and groups not working together, even if they have similar goals. What our sector needs to do is bring all sides together – government, the business sector, philanthropists, and other – to talk about how to marshal even greater resources to meet the problems of today.
Philanthropy generates an extraordinary amount of giving and volunteering – more than $300 billion in gifts and 16 billion hours in the US alone. But all that money and time is meaningless if it’s not coordinated and strengthened by investments from government, business and other parties at the same time. And that’s the conversation we need to have: how to massively increase and mobilize ALL of our resources – what the philanthropic sector can do, what business can do, etc., and more importantly, how we do it all TOGETHER.
We have a unique moment in 2013. With talk of serious tax reform already occurring here early in the year, it is quite likely the charitable deduction will be on the table again for Congressional consideration. Let’s take this opportunity to move the discussion to a higher level. Now is the time, and it’s clear the White House gets it.
Let’s look beyond talk of tax reform to a consideration of big ideas: comprehensive proposals and radical initiatives to reignite philanthropy and rebuild our communities around the world.
Andrew Watt is president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This article was first published on the AFP blog.