As you might imagine, our recent trip to Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill was abuzz with talk about presidential candidates – with not a lot of mention about our own governor – and their prospects in upcoming primaries. Panelists and speakers in various venues were happy to predict what might happen at conventions for both parties and what that might mean for the future.
And it wasn’t all focused on the race for the presidency: added to the conversation mix was the fact that 34 senators are up for election, including several very competitive races like the Portman-Strickland matchup here in Ohio. There was quite an attitude of “inside the beltway” nearly-obsessive focus on the November election, with both parties vying for control of the White House and the Senate.
That focus played out in our meetings on Capitol Hill, where elected officials and staff alike predicted that not much would get done for the rest of this year. Which has eight months left to go. One must-pass bill, we heard, is one dealing with FAA matters, and of course, there’s the budget bill or potential for a continuing resolution to fund the government if that fails to pass.
While hearing that may have dampened our hopes for moving our issues forward this year, it didn’t dampen the voice of those who spoke on behalf of philanthropy. 153 regional association foundation staff and trustees trekked the Senate and House office buildings to accomplish a few common goals:
- Thanking those who voted for the PATH Act, which made the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent: after years of asking for reauthorization, there is no certainty for those donors aged 70 ½ or older to use their retirement assets for gifts to qualified charities without being taxed;
- Asking them to support a further improvement to that provision, to allow donor advised funds (DAFs) to receive the IRA assets: HR 4907 and S 2750 both would make that change for this fast-growing charitable vehicle (Ohio’s community foundations hold 5,095 DAFs that made grants of more than $193 million in one year; and
- Asking them to support a simplification and reduction of the private foundation excise tax: the current, two-tiered system that assesses tax on a private foundation’s net investment income is a complicated calculation that, if changed to a flat 1 percent as proposed, would provide more dollars for grantmaking.
Of our eight meetings with Ohio’s members of Congress – including those who serve on the all-important Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees – no one expressed concern about these provisions. But – and it’s a big but – no one held out much hope that either would move this year. That said, all also agreed that the bills and our meetings urging their passage, were important for setting the stage for the next congress. And that’s ultimately what our policy work is all about: being willing to stick with it (it took us 10 years to get the IRA Charitable Rollover made permanent) and acknowledge that policy work is a long-term venture and commitment.
Thanks to our Ohio leaders who traveled to Washington: Leah S. Gary, Renee Harvey, Heidi Jark, Kate Keller, Sylvia Perez, Brian Wagner and Marissa Williams.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
The other night at dinner, I casually asked our waiter, “How are you?” not expecting anything other than, “Good, how are you?” But, the response I received took me by surprise and I’m still thinking about his unusual answer, which was, “I don’t know how I am. I’m trying to figure that out.”
It struck me – aren’t we all trying to figure it out?
And as we try, aren’t we also trying to balance the rest of life’s equation – which may include work, family, home, hobbies, sports and education as well as other time bandits? I’ve spent a lot – perhaps too much – of my mental real estate thinking and talking about work-life balance, and I’ve decided we should rename this elusive concept – because it’s not about balance – it’s about juggling.
Balance implies a stillness – think of the Crane Pose in Yoga – while juggling brings to mind clowns and circuses, swords and flaming batons, which in my life is more apt than the concept of stillness and flow. Balance is about all the elements somehow being equal or at least in the correct proportions, while juggling, according to its definition, is “to keep several objects in motion in the air at the same time by repeatedly throwing and catching them, and to do (several things) at the same time, while making changes to (something) in order to achieve a desired result.” I would add that juggling often amuses others…
So here’s why I’m more apt to use the term juggling rather than balance. Years and years and years ago (actually in another century), I had a graduate school professor who required each student to learn to juggle as a part of an organizational development class. It was quite a profound exercise and here’s what I found:
- You will fail, over and over again.
- You should pick easy, soft objects to start. Hurting yourself is not a good option.
- It’s easier to juggle three balls, than two.
- Gravity is a B*#@%!
- The secret of juggling is throwing, not catching.
- It starts to feel natural when you find a rhythm.
- Stay calm but move when you need to.
- And practice some more!
- Celebrate and yell “Yippee” a lot.
I also found this incredibly helpful as a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, an employee, a leader, a volunteer and a traveler trying to figure it all out. I know that I’ll always be a juggler rather than a balancer, and that I’ll fail, but I’ll also probably amuse others. And I’ll also say “Yippee” despite gravity.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.
Next month, Suzanne and I will lead a group of Ohio funders to Washington for our annual Foundations on the Hill visits. We’ll be joining over 125 colleagues from across the nation for a day focused not on this year’s presidential election but on the work that needs to continue regardless of the latest polling numbers and primaries. And, while members of Congress are also focused on their own election-year district work, they also have significant work facing deadlines in D.C. – like the federal budget, and this week’s hearing on tax reform proposals in the House Ways & Means Committee.
While we certainly will have a new president next year, many of Ohio’s delegation will no doubt be returning to Congress, and that’s why it’s important for us to go to D.C. this spring. We need to build our relationships and keep our issues in front of elected officials, whether there’s action this year or to prepare for next year’s policy agenda.
We had a recent conversation with Rep. Pat Tiberi (R – 12th district of Ohio), a senior member of Ways & Means, co-chair of the House Philanthropy Caucus and staunch supporter of philanthropy. He shared his perspectives on issues ranging from tax reform to charitable giving tax policy and as well as his own legislative priorities. In talking about our upcoming D.C. meetings, he encouraged us to share philanthropy’s impact stories, reminding policy makers about the importance and value of philanthropy, before talking about specific bills and issues.
We’ll take Rep. Tiberi’s comments to heart during our meetings next month, starting our conversations with examples of philanthropic work. We’ll also be thanking those who voted for the PATH Act, which made the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent. And then we’ll be asking them to do more: to make donor advised funds eligible to receive IRA assets tax-free and to simplify the private foundation excise tax, allowing more charitable dollars to flow to nonprofits addressing critical issues.
There’s still time to join us in DC – we are stronger together.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
At two launch events last Monday, access to healthy, affordable food became one step closer to reality for many of Ohio’s food deserts. A public-private partnership has created a pool of nearly $10 million – with more dollars possible – that will provide loans and grants to develop retail groceries in low-income, underserved communities across the state.
The pooled dollars come from a variety of sources, including a $2 million state budget allocation as well as from the federal government and individual banks. Through a competitive application process overseen by the Finance Fund, grants and loans will be available “for costs associated with land acquisition, predevelopment, construction, equipment, infrastructure and related expenses as well as credit needs not typically filled by conventional financial institutions.” The Finance Fund anticipates funding 5 – 10 projects that will overcome the barriers of opening or developing retail stores. Ohio joins 10 other states with similar projects.
The fund grew out of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force that mapped nearly 1 million Ohio residents – including one-quarter of a million children – living in areas without sufficient access to healthy foods. See the report.
U.S. Representative Steve Stivers, who spoke at one of the launch events, applauded the partnership and its potential to impact areas like Vinton County, which has not had a grocery store since 2013; county residents must travel 30 miles to Athens to get fresh food. “I hope this program will help not only Vinton County but also other food deserts,” Rep. Stivers concluded.
Echoing his remarks, Ohio Representative Ryan Smith – who was instrumental in getting state funds allocated to the project – said “Access to healthy food is important to battle chronic disease, healthier Ohio citizens and a positive driver in workforce and economic development. I feel confident this program will be successful.”
Philanthropy played a strong role in getting the project to this exciting new stage, including funding reports and serving on the task force. David Ciccone of Central Ohio United Way co-chaired the task force, and these other Philanthropy Ohio members served and supported its work:
- The Cleveland Foundation
- The Columbus Foundation
- The George Gund Foundation
- Interact for Health
- Ohio Association of Foodbanks
- Ohio Children’s Foundation
- Saint Luke’s Foundation
- Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
- United Way of Greater Cincinnati
- United Way of Greater Cleveland
In addition to contributing to the funding pool, philanthropies could also think about how to partner with retailers to fill other needs, such as nutrition education, and for sustainability of local food stores. More information, along with pre-application materials, are available online.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
We are pleased to introduce Laura Smith to the Philanthropy Ohio team. Laura will work out of the Columbus office, serving as a regional director of programs. She’ll be developing and delivering educational and professional development programs, particularly in Central and Southern Ohio. She’ll be out and about meeting members in both areas, getting to know them and learning about their work and impact.
Laura comes to Philanthropy Ohio from a background that includes corporate philanthropy. She was the senior program officer for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in Massachusetts, managing regional grant programs addressing healthy food access and healthy aging. A native of the Dayton area, Laura earned her bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Laura has an affinity for all things French and loves to travel, but enjoys nothing more than a walk with her family or scoring a window seat at a local coffee shop.
I asked Laura to tell us a bit more about her.
Best advice I’ve ever received:
I’ve received great guidance over the years, but a recent favorite is to bring your “whole self” to work; don’t check a part of yourself at the door. It creates a more authentic environment and contributes to the success of the organization and your own happiness.
Three goals for 2016:
Get settled – we recently relocated back to Ohio from Boston, so we have a lot of exploring (and unpacking) to do;
Declutter the various email inboxes on my smartphone. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs in there; and
Meet and engage with our members, particularly here in Central and Southern Ohio.
What’s surprised me so far:
It isn’t a surprise, but I’ve been consistently amazed at the many talents of my new colleagues and our members and the warmth with which they welcomed me to the team.
What I do when I’m not at work:
Go on low-key hikes (aka walks in wooded areas on well-maintained paths), cook up fun recipes and attempt “Pinterest Fail”-worthy crafts and activities for my toddler.
What I’m reading:
Next up is Oran Hesterman’s Fair Food.
Who I’m following on Twitter:
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Sometimes you see a quote that makes you stop what you are doing and really think about what you’ve just read. This happens more often than I care to admit, particularly given the amount of time I spend reading, both online and off. But sometimes a quote is so profound and the speaker so august that you just have to share it. So instead of my typical blog, I’d like to share with you my favorite quotes, and only my top ten… or this could be a very long blog.
Enjoy, and share your favorite with me.
- “If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings. And we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau
- “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
- “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
- “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
- “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker
- “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
- “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
- “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Dame Edna Everage
- “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
- “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.
The headline in the latest Ohio Gives report reads “$7.42 Billion in Total Charitable Giving.” It is a staggering number and it’s fairly intuitive to think that the wealthy or the big foundations or our large companies and corporations are making these donations to our charities. But the truth is, of the $7.42 billion, only 18 percent came from foundation grants and just 7 percent from other types of funders. The rest—75 percent—came from individuals.
Nationally, the story doesn’t vary much. Of the $358 billion that Americans gave to charity in 2014, only 14 percent came from foundation grants and just 5 percent from corporations, with 81 percent coming from individuals. Inherent in the data, particularly at the national level, are some interesting trends. For example, between 70 and 90 percent of all U.S. households donate to charity in a given year and the typical household’s annual gifts add up to between $2,000 and $3,000.
In Ohio, we know that 22 percent of our population report making a charitable gift on their federal tax returns. We are listed as the 31st most charitable state in the nation, with a giving ratio of 2.82 percent. (A giving ratio is the percentage of the adjusted gross income that is reported to the IRS as charitable deductions.) And, our average gift size is $2,794.
If you missed last week’s Let’s Talk Philanthropy: Ohio Gives webinar, check out the recording and presentation.
While these facts are interesting, what helps leaders plan and what drives the proverbial “philanthropic bus” are the trends that underpin these facts. Here are the ones that interest me the most:
- 2014 marked the fifth year in a row that giving increased, nationally.
- Mobile giving has increased 45 percent from 2014 to 2015.
- In 2013, online giving grew by 13.5 percent, while overall charitable giving grew by 4.9 percent.
- Women continue to demonstrate innovation and leadership in how they give: the projection is that by 2025, 60 percent of all billionaires will be women.
- Innovative structures will become more popular – remember the recent Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC? (See Is the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Good for Philanthropy?)
- Philanthropic activism will continue to rise as the funding for the public sector continues to decline, shifting the funding responsibilities to private funders.
- Democratized philanthropy – now, not only can everyone spell philanthropy, everyone can be a philanthropist. From the Ice Bucket Challenge to Go Fund Me campaigns, everyone can give to causes they care about … easily (See trend #2).
- For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workplace and in the philanthropic marketplace – Silent/Great, Baby Boomer, Gen X and Millennials. These four generational views and societal influences create very different approaches to philanthropy.
- Donor advised funds continue to grow in size and popularity. Charitable assets under management in all donor-advised fund accounts totaled $70.7 billion in 2014, an all-time high, and grant payouts continue to exceed 20 percent.
- The 2014 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that philanthropic giving by households with at least $5 million in assets rose by an astounding 43 percent over the two-year period ending in 2013, with average donation amounts reaching $166,602.
What trends are you seeing and how are they impacting your work? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.