Posts filed under ‘Ohio Issues’

Philanthropy Ohio comments on proposed regulations

headshot of claudia smiling

On Monday, Philanthropy Ohio submitted the following comments in response to Notice 2017-73 that addresses the use of donor advised funds (DAFs), on behalf of our 48 community foundation members.

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 220 members who collectively awarded more than $4 billion in grants last year. We provide the network, tools and knowledge to help people engaged in philanthropy become more effective, powerful changes agents in their communities.

Community foundations are a vital part of Ohio’s philanthropic landscape; we have the second highest number of any state (67 active, stand-alone foundations) and are third in giving ($515 million in 2015). As you might expect, donor advised funds are important, growing vehicles for our community foundations. About two-thirds of Ohio’s community foundations have DAFS, including small foundations serving rural communities as well as the largest grantmakers serving major cities. Recently completed research demonstrates the popularity and power of DAFs in our community foundations: the 10 largest community foundations have 3,345 DAFs that collectively hold $1.1 billion in assets and granted $184.5 million, representing an average payout of 11.6 percent (source: 2015/16 990s).

Volunteer accepts canned food donation at food drive

We see first-hand the impact that these foundations have in their communities, bringing local social and financial capital to address critical problems. These charitable endowments provide countless opportunities and numerous vehicles (including DAFs) for new and seasoned philanthropists to give back to their communities and make smart decisions about their charitable giving.

For many years, Philanthropy Ohio has advocated for policies that: encourage charitable giving; give donors the widest possible choice of vehicles for giving; and simplify the processes related to giving, at both the state and federal levels. Given the recently passed federal tax reform bill and its potential impact on charitable giving, we believe it is more important than ever that federal rules, regulations and tax laws make charitable giving easier rather than more complex and harder. It is from these values and vantage point that we offer comments related to the operations of DAFs as outlined in the Notice. We believe that minus evidence of widespread abuse related to any of the proposed topics addressed in the Notice that any guidance should have as its goal making the use and operation of DAFs easier and less complex for both donors and sponsoring organizations.

Section 3: Certain distributions from a DAF providing a more than incidental benefit to a donor, donor advisor or related person

We believe that the rules that apply to charitable deductions allowed for individual taxpayers should be mirrored in those for DAFs. An individual taxpayer may claim a charitable deduction for the portion of an event ticket or sponsorship for which no value or benefit is received, based upon the charity’s estimate of the value of those benefits. Current law and regulations do not prohibit such bifurcation and community foundation practice varies on this topic as some continue to bifurcate in such situations. Community foundation staff have and demonstrate the requisite skills and knowledge to accurately implement bifurcation, indeed helping donors comply at a higher rate, we suspect, than do individual taxpayers making similar charitable contributions. Further, there is nothing that states a legislative intent that DAFs and individuals by treated differently. For these reasons, Philanthropy Ohio requests the IRS and Treasury Department to reconsider the proposed guidance and accept the regulations and laws already in place that allow bifurcation.

Section 4: Certain distributions from a DAF permitted without regard to a charitable pledge made by a donor, donor advisor or related person

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We appreciate the IRS proposal that distributions from a DAF to a charity that fulfill a pledge would not result in a more than incidental benefit to the donor/advisor but are troubled by the provision that makes it such only if the sponsoring organization makes no reference to the existence of the pledge when distributing the gift to the charity. We believe that this “don’t reveal” safe harbor for such distributions runs counter to our values – and those of our members – around transparency and accountability as we urge the adoption of best practices and credentialing. We also share our concern about the administrative burden the proposal places on charities that are charged with determining the legal enforceability of a pledge; we see that our community foundations’ practice is mixed and confused in the current environment and doubt that charities would be better equipped to make such determinations. For these reasons, Philanthropy Ohio asks the IRS and Treasury Department to adopt a regulation that explicitly permits the pledge of a donor/advisor to be paid from a DAF without further language about enforceability or lack of reference to the pledge during distribution.

Section 5: Preventing attempts to use a DAF to avoid public support limitations

We are not aware of instances where DAFs are being used to avoid public support limitations and believe that the proposed regulations would impose burdensome administrative requirements that far exceed the perceived problem. DAFs are public charities and grants from them should continue to be treated as public support, without any required attribution or aggregation and without any erosion of their public charity status. There is a perception perhaps on the part of the IRS that donors/advisors improperly control DAFs, a perception that is not supported by the practices and policies community foundations put in place to govern the operation of the funds and the foundation. Philanthropy Ohio opposes the proposed regulations and hopes that any regulations, if adopted, would provide relief from administrative burdens of sponsoring organizations and grantees.

Section 6: How private foundations use DAFs in support of their purposes

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Our research into this area surfaced only a handful of examples of private foundations using DAFs at community foundations. In these cases, the private foundations used the funds to achieve a number of purposes related to their mission and, in most cases, the sponsoring organization imposed either formal policies or informal practices about required distributions, with disbursements occurring as early as 3 months from the date of the contribution. About one-third of Ohio’s community foundations comply with National Standards for Community Foundations, which include requiring adoption of best practice policies to address inactive DAFs, and many more are actively seeking such compliance. While we understand IRS concern about the potential for private foundations to use DAFs to avoid payout requirements and retain control over funds, this does not appear to be supported by the evidence. Philanthropy Ohio opposes any new regulations that would exclude DAF contributions from a private foundation’s qualifying distributions and suggest any new regulation be carefully crafted to stop any bad practice without limiting DAF use for genuine charitable purpose.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

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March 5, 2018 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

Charitable giving is at risk

headshot of claudia smilingTomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a day when charities across the country raise the money that sustains their efforts to help those most in need – whether that need is for a college education or workforce training, for food and a safe place to sleep, for addiction treatment or for dental care. If Congress has its way, those charities are going to be in a world of hurt as the charitable deduction so many charities rely on to spur donations comes to an effective end if the tax reform bill passes in its current form.giving tuesday

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminates a number of deductions and credits while doubling the standard deduction, a move that is intended to both simplify tax returns and lower the amount of taxes owed – at least for some individuals. While the bill keeps the charitable deduction – which has existed for 100 years – many fewer individuals will choose to itemize since they would lose other deductions and credits – like those for tuition, medical expenses and payment of state and local taxes. National estimates project that 95% of taxpayers who currently itemize their deductions (including the charitable deduction) will no longer do so once the other deductions and credits are deleted. A study by the Tax Policy Center estimates that charities would lose between $12 and $18 billion next year because of the tax bill’s effective elimination of the charitable incentive for donating to nonprofits. Here in Ohio, that 95% gave almost $4 billion in 2015, an amount that would be at risk of dramatically decreasing if the incentive for giving goes away. And, not only would thousands of charities and those they serve be impacted by such a reduction, so would Ohio’s economy, since almost 12% of the workforce is employed by a nonprofit.

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There is a way to offset – at least partially – this anticipated decrease: create a universal deduction for gifts to charity, similar to the deduction enacted in the 1980s. In fact, HR 3988 proposes doing so, allowing all Americans to deduct their charitable donations without itemizing. We call upon Senators Portman and Brown to offer this as an amendment as the bill moves to the Senate floor.

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It is critical to recognize that philanthropy cannot fill the needs – here in Ohio or nationwide – created as a result of the many provisions negatively impacting charitable giving and low- and middle-income workers and families. Ohio’s foundations, United Ways and other public charities gave over $2 billion to nonprofits in 2015, the highest on record, but it’s insufficient to fill anticipated gaps if the tax reform bill passes in its current form.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

November 27, 2017 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio opposes eliminating Ohio’s Learning Standards

headshot of claudia smilingWith the Ohio House Education and Career Readiness Committee hearing tomorrow to address school assessments, curricula and teacher evaluations, we wrote Chairman Brenner, Vice-Chairman Slaby and Ranking Minority Member Fedor to express our opposition to House Bill 176 and 181.

Philanthropy Ohio and its Education Initiative specifically oppose the elimination of Ohio’s newly-revised Learning Standards.

The hearing is Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Ohio Statehouse at 4 p.m.

Oct. 2017_Philanthropy Ohio letter crop

See the full letter letter below.

 

Oct. 2017_Philanthropy Ohio letter

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

October 23, 2017 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Working for just, equitable communities

headshot of claudia smilingJust a week has passed since the violence in Charlottesville and, like many others, here at Philanthropy Ohio we are thinking about how we can increase our efforts working with our members toward just, equitable communities. We’ve focused over the past 10 years on diversity, equity and inclusion, adopting a DEI Statement, engaging members in a CEO Circle, educating members about racial disparities and creating the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy. Our October conference has a major focus on equity, from the plenary with Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. to individual breakout and reflection sessions.

Last month, four of our staff attended the United Philanthropy Forum’s conference, where Dr. David Williams presented sobering data on the inequality in 21st century America, saying that philanthropy should play a leading role in:

  • Raising awareness levels of the reality of racial inequities;
  • Helping to establish a credible voice that is anti-elite, anti-authority and has little trust in social institutions;
  • Convening all relevant stakeholders and experts to establish a coordinated and sustained mass media campaign to re-define race in American culture and society;
  • Raising awareness levels of deeply embedded, subtle forms of prejudice (implicit biases) that are pervasive and unrecognized;
  • Building the political will to address racial inequities in America;
  • Working with the public, private and voluntary sector to identify and disseminate feasible and optimal strategies to dismantle institutional racism; and
  • Developing and sustaining structures that will identify, nurture, and mentor the next generation of leaders to sustain an agenda focused on truth, racial reconciliation and transformation.
Williams_David

David R. Williams is a Professor of Public Health, African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University.

His talk and the hatred that fueled the violence in Charlottesville reinforce that there is so much work to be done and amplify the important role the philanthropic sector can play. Here are just a few of the resources that can inform and guide philanthropy’s work:

Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities Framework (RPBC) created by the Association of Black Foundation Executives, which builds upon grantmaking with a racial equity lens and tailored specifically to grantmaking in and for Black communities.

Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s work around Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation.

The June 2017 webinar from the Association of Black Foundation Executives on The Color of Philanthropy: Southern Leaders, National Potential.

The equity assessment quiz created by CHANGE Philanthropy with questions from the D5 Coalition and the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

The 2017 report from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees about Supporting Immigrants and Refugees in Volatile Times: What Philanthropy Can Do.

On a related note, one of Ohio’s champions for diversity, equity and inclusion retired last week: Sister Sally Duffy, former head of the SC Ministry Foundation headquartered in Cincinnati. Hundreds of people attended her reception last week to recognize and honor her work, including elected officials, colleagues and nonprofit leaders. She was a tireless advocate and while I will miss her participation in our efforts, I know she will continue her social justice work in her retirement.

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Claudia Y.W. Herrold

August 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm Leave a comment

The American Health Care Act and preserving Medicaid

headshot of claudia smilingLast week we wrote the following letter to Senator Rob Portman, which several of our members signed on to, regarding the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Dear Senator Portman,

The Philanthropy Ohio Health Initiative began as a member-initiated coalition focused on improving the health of Ohioans. Our membership includes private and community foundations, corporate funders, public charity grantmakers and United Ways. The Health Initiative envisions a future where Ohio communities – including the philanthropic sector and the health care system – support health promotion, disease prevention and patient-centered, quality care accessible by all Ohioans. To do this we also work with other community organizations, government and partners who share our goals, many who have joined us in signing this letter. Like many others who invest in the health and welfare of our communities, we are deeply concerned about the impact on Ohioans of key changes being considered in the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

shutterstock_445553Senator Portman, we appreciate your leadership in directly confronting the impact of Medicaid changes proposed in the House-passed version of the AHCA. As you said in your letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell (dated March 6, 2017), Medicaid “reform should not come at the cost of disruption in access to health care for our country’s most vulnerable and sickest individuals…and we will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.” We could not agree more.

We respect the concerns about the cost to the state and federal government of providing Medicaid coverage and want to collaborate with good-faith partners in addressing these concerns. However, we believe the longstanding state-federal financing partnership is not fundamentally broken.

As you indicated with Anthem’s announcement to withdraw from the Obamacare Exchange (the Marketplace), “the status quo is unsustainable.” We agree. The Anthem withdrawal leaves 19,000 Ohioans in 20 Ohio counties without any option to purchase an individual plan on the Marketplace; that is 11% of Ohio’s total Marketplace enrollment. However, despite the need to fix the Marketplace, there is no need to alter the current underlying federal-state financing structure for Medicaid—it works.

Today, Medicaid efficiently provides comprehensive health care for 3.1 million Ohioans, including 723,000 receiving coverage through the Medicaid Expansion. The AHCA’s proposal to shift Medicaid financing to ‘per- capita caps’ will jeopardize Ohio’s ability to provide health care to all Medicaid enrollees, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities, and would have a significant negative economic impact on our state. Consider the following:

Per-Capita Cap, Children & Other Extraordinary Medical Needs

  • Ohio’s child protection system is seeing a dramatic increase in the rate of opioid-exposed babies. The life threatening medical issues these babies face result in immediate and long term needs for care and support. These babies are not covered by the Medicaid Expansion. Their needs require an ongoing, guaranteed federal- state partnership, which cannot be assured with “medical CPI plus 1%.”
  • Ohio spends $2,488 per child on Medicaid, the 11th lowest in the country. With per-capita caps in place, this would become a permanent federal funding ceiling. Can we absorb the short and long-term cost of care for the opioid-exposed babies or other unexpected emerging public health threats? Further, as we work to improve health care quality and efficiency for children, if our spending falls below the federal cap, the recently discussed idea of periodic “rebasing” would further lower our federal funding ceiling, making the per-capita caps even more damaging.
  • We ask: How do we absorb the short and long-term cost of care for the opioid-exposed babies? How would Medicaid financed by per- capita caps support our state’s needs in times of health and economic distress?

A Dedicated Pot to Replace Medicaid Funding for Opiate Treatment

  • $650 million of the $1 billion dollars Ohio spent last year to reduce drug use and overdose fatalities was paid for by Medicaid. More than 50% of all prescriptions in Ohio for Buprenorphine (an opioid recovery medicine) in 2016 were paid for by Medicaid. Our healthcare system and these services are increasingly integrated to serve individuals holistically across the continuum of care, whether the need is identified in primary care, emergency rooms, or specialized services locations.
  • We ask: Will the opiate funding pot that is being contemplated be large enough and grow commensurate with our $650 million need? How would this pot address each individual’s comprehensive needs and be integrated in a system of care? Why would we create a pot of funding for treating opiate addiction? We don’t pay for hip replacements or care for diabetes that way–these are part of holistic healthcare coverage.

Impact on Rural Communities, Veterans, Elderly, and Intellectually Disabled Individuals

  • old_lady_with_drA Medicaid per-capita cap and phasing out the Medicaid Expansion will have a disproportionate impact on rural communities. Roughly 21% of Ohio’s Medicaid Expansion are individuals who live in rural communities. From 2009 to 2015, Ohio had the third largest decline in the number of uninsured adults nationally, as an additional 115,000 adults received Medicaid or Marketplace coverage.
  • The uninsured rate among non-elderly Veterans has dropped 42% since 2014.
  • Medicaid home and community-based services are an optional service. Today Ohio is serving almost 100,000 individuals in community services; that is 65% of our Medicaid long-term services spending. While seniors and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities would have a more generous growth rate in the per-capita cap, from 2000 to 2011 Ohio’s growth rate was higher than most states; 3.5% and 5.1% for aged and disabled, respectively.
  • We ask: Faced with estimated reductions of $22 billion dollars over a ten-year period to Ohio, can we honestly assure families and individuals that these optional home and community based services will be supported at a level commensurate with their changing needs and will not be a prime target for reduced funding? Can Veterans and those in rural Ohio feel secure that there will not be disruption in their access to services, at the expense of others who also have significant needs?

A per-capita cap means that Ohio will have fewer resources over time to address these issues and will not be able to respond effectively to future public health crises. A federal funding cap cannot account for the specific spending pressures, needs and values of Ohio. The current federal matching formula already takes into account changes in each state’s demographic and economic conditions. Ohio’s health transformation is being driven by Governor Kasich and his Medicaid leadership team: the fundamental federal-state partnership doesn’t need to be abandoned, but deliberate progress continued. The President’s new team at HHS has many tools to continue and enhance this progress.

Capitol Hill2With this in mind, we strongly urge you to oppose any health reform bill that would cause Ohioans to lose health care coverage or benefits that they currently have. Specifically, we urge you to vote against any bill that would effectively end the Medicaid expansion, as we know it by completely phasing out the enhanced federal match or end the Medicaid program as we know it by shifting billions in Medicaid costs to states through a per-capita cap.

In closing, we, and the others who have signed on, pledge to work with you in any constructive manner to improve our state’s health care system. We appreciate your continued leadership on these important issues.

Sincerely,

Philanthropy Ohio

June 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio ramps up policy work

headshot of claudia smilingWith new federal and state policymakers settling into their jobs in D.C. and Columbus, Philanthropy Ohio is already working to advocate for critical issues of most importance to our members.

Registration has begun for our annual trip to Washington D.C. for Foundations on the Hill, which is open to all Philanthropy Ohio members. We’ll trek to D.C. March 20 – 22 to meet with Ohio’s congressional delegation, attend a policy summit and network with 200 philanthropy leaders from across the country. This year, philanthropy’s voice is more important than ever as so much change is in the wind, including a promise to reform the tax code with provisions that would impact charitable giving as well as efforts to change health and education policies. And, our Tax Reform Working Group will reconvene as part of the Public Policy Committee.

Portman POH

Philanthropy Ohio’s member cohort met with Rep. Portman as part of Foundations on the Hill in 2016.

We’ve convened a new affinity group of members focused on ensuring a full and accurate 2020 U.S. Census, to learn more about the policy decisions being made in coming months and to add philanthropy’s voice to policy discussions. The group, Ohio Funders for the Census, has formed as part of a Midwest project funded by the Joyce Foundation through the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Notes from its first meeting in January are online and the next meeting is set for late February.

Here in Ohio, while we await Governor Kasich’s budget proposal, our Health and Education Initiatives are poised to continue their policy work. The Health Initiative coalition will meet in mid-February and the Education Initiative coalition is presenting a briefing on college affordability on February 9 in conjunction with the release of its report on the topic. The affordability brief is the latest in a series of papers Philanthropy Ohio has published and provided to state policymakers to inform critical decisions, particularly related to the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.

education-policy-briefs

Philanthropy Ohio developed a series of targeted education briefing papers aimed at helping the state’s elected officials and education leaders plot a clear direction for the future of education and student success.

Policy work – like politics – depends on local relationships and doesn’t happen once every four years when we elect a new president or governor. Policymakers need to hear from philanthropy throughout every year, with messages that include what philanthropy can and can’t do – while philanthropy is a co-investor with government, it can’t come close to filling the gaps after budget cuts – as well as stories of impact, information on promising programs addressing critical issues and suggestions for policy reform. Add your voice, get engaged.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

January 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Pass SB 332 to reduce infant mortality

headshot of claudia smilingThe number of Ohio babies who die before their first birthday is simply unacceptable and that is why Philanthropy Ohio supports SB 332. We urge the Ohio House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Ohio Senate and pass SB 332 when it returns to its scheduled sessions after the November election. The bill passed the Senate with broad, bipartisan support as seen by its 29-1 vote.

Consider just a few facts about infant mortality, deaths before age 1 per 1,000 live births:

  • Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in overall infant mortality rates;
  • 7 of every 1,000 babies born in Ohio died before their first birthday in 2014;
  • The rate of black babies who died in Ohio is twice that – 14.3 – and actually increased from previous years; and
  • The national rate was 6.05.

Philanthropy has worked with government and community partners to develop and implement various initiatives to address this crisis in their local regions. For example, Interact for Health and United Way of Greater Cincinnati support Cradle Cincinnati, a collective impact initiative that focuses on three aspects of reducing infant mortality: preventing premature births, reducing tobacco and other substance use during pregnancy and promoting safe sleep. Hamilton County’s infant mortality rate in 2014 was 8.8, two points higher than the national rate. Fifth Third Bank also supports efforts through its funding of Cincinnati Children’s Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth, a partner in Cradle Cincinnati.

At Home with Newborn Baby

At the other end of the state, the Toledo Community Foundation has been deeply committed to the cause of saving infants. The foundation is an active partner with the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB program.

Pathways HUB is a system designed to find at-risk pregnant women and link them to services that contribute to positive birth outcomes. The program was created to address the high number of preterm infants born to African American women living in Lucas County. Since its founding in 2007, 1,400 at-risk African American pregnant women (2,772 all races) enrolled in the Pathways HUB and the program has shown positive results: from 2013-2015, African American women enrolled in Pathways at least 90 days had a much better birth weight rate (8.2%) than the overall rates for African Americans in Lucas County (14.7% in 2014).

These are just a few examples of philanthropy’s engagement across the state: there are also collaborations in Cleveland (First Year Cleveland) and Columbus (CelebrateOne) that our members support.

But these efforts, along with the state’s policy efforts to combat the high infant mortality rate, are not enough. SB 332 is a statewide, coordinated approach – critical if not sufficient – to reduce the number of infants who die each year.

The bill is innovative and deliberate in its focus on the social determinants of health, a focus that is critical to preventing the death of our youngest residents. By addressing housing issues and increasing the number of qualified community hubs providing services to at-risk populations the bill can go a long way toward saving babies and keeping them out of hospital NICUs. Its other provisions are also important, from tobacco cessation efforts to birth spacing and safe sleep education, to keep babies alive. These are interventions that work – we have proof of that – and strengthening these provisions will help our state move the needle on infant mortality.

Call your representative in the Ohio House to urge their support for the bill, moving it through committee and to the House floor before the end of this session.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

October 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

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