From the “Hoosier Huddle” coffee hosted by Senators Young and Braun, to outside the committee room with Representative Brooks, and on to the Cannon House hallway outside Representative Baird's office, the IPA Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) delegation covered a lot of ground on Capitol Hill.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12 and 13, 2019, our seven-member delegation spoke with every member and/or staff representative of Indiana’s congressional delegation about issues important to philanthropy, including the universal charitable deduction, the unrelated business income tax, and the need for a fully-funded 2020 Census. See a list of our key issues here.
We were not alone. Over 250 foundation executives from 32 states joined us at this annual event, presented by United Philanthropy Forum in partnership with the Alliance for Charitable Reform. The goals of FOTH are to inform and educate Congress about philanthropy, create visibility on Capitol Hill about philanthropy, advocate on issues affecting both foundations and our local communities, and to encourage Congress to view us as a resource and a partner on key public policy issues—just like we ask our local and state policymakers.
Members joining IPA’s FOTH group included:
- BRAD BUMGARDNER | Executive Director and CEO, Parke County Community Foundation
- RACHEL GOODSPEED | Community Relations Manager, Vectren Foundation
- STEPHANIE OVERBEY | Associate Director, Kosciusko County Community Foundation
- TRACY SOUZA | President and CEO, Heritage Fund–The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County
- LIZ TATE | Retired Grantmaker
- CLAUDIA CUMMINGS | President and CEO, Indiana Philanthropy Alliance
- BECKY HONEYWELL | Director, Member & External Relations, Indiana Philanthropy Alliance
We want to thank our delegation for their time preparing for the event and the productive conversations they led with our congressional representatives during our visits. The next FOTH takes place March 9-11, 2020, and we hope you will consider joining us. Contact Becky Honeywell if you are interested in joining or if you would like to learn more.
Here is what members of IPA's delegation had to say about their FOTH experience:
TRACY SOUZA | Heritage Fund–The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County
I think everyone should consider a FOTH experience at least once. It is a chance to be part of the democratic experience and to really appreciate the process from our legislators’ perspective—while we were there talking about foundations, doctors in white coats were talking about healthcare, and other groups from all over the country were also advocating for their causes.
As nonprofits, we need to understand the special space we occupy as a tax exempt entity—tax law is what defines our professional space—and congress can narrow it, making our jobs harder, or broaden it, giving us more freedom to serve our constituencies. We need to make sure they understand the implications of each vote. The parking issue related to Unrelated Business Tax (UBIT) is a great example. Our legislators did not see that one coming!
STEPHANIE OVERBEY | Kosciusko County Community Foundation
Our representatives have many voices vying for their attention. We must offer a collective voice on behalf of philanthropy that makes the ask clear, “Support these specific pieces of legislation or create new legislation that will help Indiana’s charitable sector do more good.”
I encourage other members to join FOTH. Our time on the Hill educated and influenced representatives. That was our mission and we accomplished it. And, it educated me too. I came away understanding more about how the political sausage is made, as well as an understanding of how to better make our case with state and federal legislators when my community’s issues need legislative solutions to complex problems.
I was also able to talk to a Senator’s staff about an initiative that is important in Kosciusko County—the shortage of child care. I am now connected to the staff person leading child care/education initiatives on behalf of the Senator. We will follow up with the Senator’s staff to determine how public/private/charitable sectors can work together on this issue.
LIZ TATE | Retired Grantmaker
After 18+ years in the field, I took this opportunity—and honestly wish I had done so earlier. While having conversations with members of Congress on the issues important to IPA and its members, it was apparent to me that most of them were very interested in hearing from us and welcomed the opportunity to continue to connect with IPA with these issues and others that may arise in the future.
Our wonderful IPA staff prepped the group in advance and provided us with information that was the envy of other groups attending FOTH. In addition to myself, there were other first-timers on this trip. But you wouldn't know it because we were well-prepped and on-message for every meeting.
This experience is one that I highly recommend to IPA members. It is money well spent to advance our work in the state.
RACHEL GOODSPEED | Vectren Foundation
Thanks again to IPA for the wonderful preparation, as well as coordinating it all! You made the whole experience easy to navigate, to learn, and to enjoy.
We should never pass up opportunities, like FOTH, to establish ourselves and our organizations as leaders in philanthropy. Aside from building relationships between foundation leaders and our policymakers, we are the boots-on-the-ground and we see the impact when dollars and policy align. FOTH is our opportunity to bring impactful stories of success to the forefront to ensure policies remain aligned with funding, and to provide sound recommendations on those that do not.
I would encourage all foundation leaders to participate and to strengthen our collective voice around issues that affect us and the nonprofits we support. IPA’s participation is vital because you can represent those smaller entities that don’t have the capacity to participate.