Foundations need to change their message to legislators, to focus on how philanthropy serves people and reduces the burden on government, said Steve Gunderson, president of the Council on Foundations, on the closing day of the council’s annual meeting. Philanthropy requires help increasing its resources so it can do more, not less, he said.
“We have to make the case that philanthropy isn’t a special interest, but it’s an entity in American society that’s a partner in building our community,” he said. “Every item on our legislative agenda is designed in a way to increase our ability to serve.”
Philanthropy also needs better research about how proposed changes to the charitable deduction and other tax policies would affect giving, said Carol S. Larson, president of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
“These aren’t going to be simple conversations, but we are going to need to have them,” Ms. Larson said. She added that both the council and Independent Sector, a coalition of charities and grant makers, are studying how various kinds of tax reforms would affect the nonprofit field.