Posts filed under ‘Core Competencies’
In mid-March, I headed to Washington, D.C. for my 18th time leading a delegation of Ohio’s philanthropy leaders at Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). Sponsored by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (on whose board I serve, co-chairing the Government Relations Committee), the annual FOTH event engaged 300 people from 28 states in meaningful conversations with elected officials and their staff. Ohio was well represented, with 16 of us from across the state making the trip to D.C.
Wearing comfortable walking shoes for traipsing the marble halls of the House and Senate office buildings, with one-pagers and packets in hand, we started our day with an 8:30 a.m. coffee with Senator Portman and ended it talking with Rep. Tiberi’s chief of staff, having met with eight other offices during the intervening hours.
Among the thousands of visitors to congressional offices that day, philanthropy’s voice was strong and collective; although every state’s delegation focused on its own particular issues, many of us delivered two key messages:
- Don’t repeal the Johnson Amendment; and
- Preserve and protect the full scope and value of the charitable deduction.
The Johnson Amendment, adopted over 60 years ago, prohibits tax-exempt organizations from political campaigning. While nonprofits can lobby (within limits) on policy topics, they cannot support or endorse political candidates. We at Philanthropy Ohio, along with more than 2,300 other organizations, think that’s a good thing (and a recent poll shows that most Americans agree with us.) But President Trump promised at the National Prayer Breakfast to get rid of the prohibition and several members of Congress agree: HR 172 would repeal the provision, while S 264 and HR 781 would substantially weaken it (it has 53 co-sponsors including Reps. Jordan and Renacci). We’ll be reaching out to Ohio’s congressional delegation in coming weeks to urge them to vote against weakening or repealing this amendment that keeps nonprofits above the political fray and charitable dollars directed to addressing critical local needs and not filling campaign coffers.
We also asked our elected policymakers to preserve the charitable deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct their charitable donations from their federal tax liability. About one-quarter of Ohioans do so, and collectively they gave over $6 billion to charities in one year alone. Current suggestions to double the standard deduction and eliminate the deduction for all but the top 5% of donors would, we believe, have a significant negative impact on giving.
Philanthropy is a strong, effective co-investor in communities and it was clear during our visits last month that our senators and representatives value the sector. But again and again, as we see the intent to pull back government funding from safety net services, we must make it clear that philanthropy cannot fill the resulting gap: there simply aren’t enough charitable dollars to replace public funding in education, health care, human services, the environment and so many other areas. We’ll be meeting with our delegation in their district offices in coming months to discuss these and other issues and I invite you to join us or to reach out individually to those who represent you in the 115th Congress.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
March 8, 2017
Senator Rob Portman
Dear Senator Portman,
As the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act moves forward in the Senate we appreciate the thoughtful consideration you are giving to the provisions and potential changes – along with the significant related implications. Thank you for your letter to Senator McConnell affirming the need that any reform protect those who are most vulnerable and in need of health care.
We have supported Governor Kasich’s Medicaid Expansion and are heartened to see its positive impacts, as presented in the recent report by the Ohio Department of Medicaid. Many of our members who fund in health (over $200 million a year goes to the health area in Ohio by foundations), as a result of Medicaid Expansion, have been able to re-direct their grant dollars to other pressing problems, including the opiate/heroin addiction crisis. We urge you to stand firm in your support of the expansion and the Medicaid program, keeping both in the bill that comes before the Senate; we strongly support keeping the current structure and federal payment stream in place and ask you to support them.
More specifically, among the proposals we urge you to oppose are the shifting of Medicaid to block grants and instituting per capita caps: both of these would cut Medicaid funding and reduce coverage for millions of Americans. Either of those revisions also would shift huge costs to Ohio, forcing us to ration coverage and care and philanthropy cannot possibly fill the resulting gap. We stand ready to help in any way we can and look forward to hearing from you.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D. Claudia Y. W. Herrold
President & CEO Senior Vice President
This week’s column is excerpted from a briefing paper written by Kristi Andrasik (program officer at the Cleveland Foundation) and Brian Schultz (community outreach manager at Foundation Center Midwest).
Early this summer, LGBTQ communities across the nation were painfully reminded of the many challenges that remain. On June 12, Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub, was attacked on Latin night during Pride Month. The massacre claimed 49 lives and wounded 53 others, nearly all of them LGBTQ and Latinx young adults. Many in the philanthropic sector have sought information about opportunities to support Orlando. The national philanthropy affinity group, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, released both a statement and resource guide with recommendations for grantmakers interested in supporting the Orlando community. A number of funders across the country have since directed funds to Orlando, launched community fundraising efforts and made statements in support of the Orlando LGBTQ community and LGBTQ people generally.
In March of this year, Funders for LGBTQ Issues announced a new targeted, place-based effort to increase the dialogue about foundation funding for LGBTQ people living in Ohio, naming Kristi Andrasik of the Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz of Foundation Center Midwest as the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.
Less than three months into our new role as Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors, we found ourselves working to maintain focus on the needs of Ohio’s LGBTQ community while grappling to comprehend the horrific crime committed against our community in Orlando. Since June 12, we have been in communication with LGBTQ colleagues, LGBTQ-serving organizations, and local funders to understand the impact of Orlando and offer support; yet we know there are still many with whom we have not yet connected, and many who may not yet know that we exist as a local resource.
After convening Northeast Ohio LGBTQ nonprofit leaders to gain a deeper insight into the local impact of Orlando, the issues most important for local funders to be aware of, and the opportunities for local funders to respond, we have compiled a briefing for Ohio’s philanthropic community, which is available on Philanthropy Ohio’s website.
The briefing paper discusses how Orlando has impacted LGBTQ Ohioans and LGBTQ organizations as well as suggesting ways that funders can support their local communities.
To learn more, read the briefing and reach out to Kristi or Brian.
Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S
Program Officer, The Cleveland Foundation
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador
Community Outreach Manager, Foundation Center Midwest
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador
Philanthropy Ohio recently submitted comments to the director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid, stating its opposition to the waiver the state will be asking the federal government to approve. The waiver, which the Ohio General Assembly required in its last budget bill, and our reasons for opposing it, are more fully explained below.
Philanthropy Ohio is a statewide membership association serving private and community foundations, corporate giving programs, government agencies, United Ways and other public charity grantmakers as well as individual philanthropists. Our mission is to be the leading voice and premier resource for philanthropy across the state, particularly serving our over 210 members who collectively awarded more than $4 billion in grants last year. We have been engaged with the department as well as the Office of Health Transformation in recent years, through our member-driven Health Initiative that focuses on the state’s health policy reform efforts. We hope that our comments in opposition to the waiver, based upon the initiative’s principals and endorsed by our Board of Trustees, provide insight into philanthropy’s perspectives on the waiver being submitted.
Ohio, with the second largest number of health-focused foundations in the country, has philanthropic organizations with deep experience and commitment to improving the health of residents and working with government to do so. In an average year, Ohio’s philanthropic organizations invest almost $300 million in grants related to health. While these numbers pale in comparison to government resources, they are nevertheless important supports in countless communities across Ohio.
Philanthropy Ohio supported Medicaid expansion, testifying at hearings and signing on to the amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court defending Governor Kasich’s expansion. We did so because of our deep belief – based upon research – that access to care through health insurance is key to improved health outcomes for what then were about 1.5 million Ohioans without health insurance. Our engagement in education and outreach activities during open enrollment periods has been extensive, supported by our members both financially and in leadership, and we have been very pleased that so many Ohioans now have insurance that can provide them with access to the kinds of services they need to get and stay healthy.
It is for this reason that we oppose the Healthy Ohio Waiver, believing that it will ultimately result in the loss of access to insurance and care for thousands of people who are dis-enrolled. Ohio has made such great strides under the expansion by covering more than 600,000 Ohioans: why would we choose to go backwards?
When thousands of Ohioans lose access to medical services – if the waiver is approved and implemented – to whom will they turn? Philanthropy, which cannot possibly fill the resulting gap. Its resources pale in comparison to what would be needed to assure continued access to cost-effective primary care. While many of our members support health clinics in their communities, we know from that history that these clinics often operate on thin financial margins and will not be able to cover growing amounts of uncompensated care if coverage is weakened. Inevitably, there will be high use of emergency departments, which analysis from the Ohio Office of Health Transformation and Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) highlights as the most expensive and least efficient avenue of care.
With ODM’s estimate of the waiver affecting 1.66 million Ohioans, a conservative 15 percent figure would result in nearly 180,000 people being dis-enrolled. Indeed, other states that implemented premiums saw much higher rates of drop-off, such as Oregon with 77 percent and Vermont with 30 percent. Losing coverage due to non-payment of premiums has significant, serious, potential results:
- creates churn within the Medicaid system, with accompanying administrative impacts;
- disrupts continuity of care for patients as well as providers;
- puts individuals at higher risk for negative health outcomes; and
- increases economic insecurity.
Additionally, the implementation of premiums has potential negative consequences for Ohio’s health care providers. The mandatory collection of co-pays, for instance, will be neither administratively easy nor cost-effective and interruption of care for those with chronic conditions makes the job of clinicians more difficult. The waiver, if implemented, would also likely reverse Ohio’s cost containment of Medicaid, an issue of critical concern to the legislature and administration. Continued enrollment has been shown to increase the health of the population and lower costs of care, so the churn likely created by disenrollment until premiums are paid, would be counterproductive. And, the development of a complex system of establishing and managing thousands of Buckeye Accounts – complete with financial transactions, monthly statements, contributions and the point system for health behaviors (yet to be defined) – will be a cumbersome and costly venture.
The waiver also creates hardships for those Ohioans living on very limited incomes, as nearly half of Ohioans who earn less than $15,000: either totally lack or have limited banking access necessary to pay premiums and monitor accounts; often lack financial literacy; may have credit problems compromising their eligibility for accounts; and would have problems paying fees to access or maintain accounts.
We are also particularly concerned about potential implications the waiver has for Ohio’s most vulnerable – its children. Much of our members’ work has concentrated on ensuring the next generation of Ohioans, our children, have the greatest opportunity to be successful educationally and economically, which means they need regular access to health care. Healthy Ohio creates potential disruptions in care for children, including foster children and low income children with special needs. The potential disenrollment of parents means low-income children will face another barrier in becoming more successful.
It is for these reasons that Philanthropy Ohio believes the waiver does not advance the best interest of Ohio and its most-at-risk population.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
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
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