All posts by Caroline Preston

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Council on Foundations Plans to Step Up Advocacy

In an e-mail last night to her group’s membership, Vikki Spruill, the new leader of the Council on Foundations, announced a campaign to convey the value of philanthropy to lawmakers.

She painted a picture of philanthropy under threat from politicians who are looking for new ways to increase revenue.

“Both President Obama and Governor Romney have put forth plans that will affect giving, and Congress is eyeing all tax deductions as potential revenue raisers,” she wrote. “This would be a grave mist…

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IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ List Includes Charity Abuses

The Internal Revenue Service’s annual “dirty dozen” list of the top 12 tax scams in the United States includes schemes that involve charities—in particular, the misuse of noncash donations.

The IRS says that it’s investigating cases in which donors try to maintain control over donations or income from contributions of assets.

The tax agency says it has seen cases in which several charities claim the value of the same donated products.

“Often these donations are highly overvalued or the organizat…

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Congressman Urges Foundation Officials to Push for Tax Changes

With Washington scurrying to try to avoid a federal government shutdown, now might not be the easiest time for foundation officials to bend the ear of Congress members. But about 250 foundation employees are scheduled to be in town this week, as part of the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers’ annual “Foundations on the Hill” day, to try to make their case to federal legislators about the value of philanthropy.

At a lunch on Tuesday, they heard from Rep. …

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Foreign Aid Would Grow Slightly in Obama Budget

President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget calls for a modest increase—1 percent—in spending on foreign affairs and development.

The proposal would provide slightly more than $47-billion for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, when costs for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are excluded. That compares with roughly $46.5-million in 2010.

The proposal was met with relief at international charities.

“Given the fiscal and political pressures that aboun…

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Homeland-Security Officials to Meet With Foundation Leaders

Officials from several foundations are scheduled to meet today in Washington with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security as part of an effort by the federal government to learn what philanthropy is doing to fight terrorism and other violent acts spurred by ideology.

The meeting will “explore how the philanthropic community supports community-led efforts to counter violent extremism and assess what additional efforts may enhance this work,” according to an invitation sent to fou…

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Buffett and Gateses Talk With President About ‘Giving Pledge’

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett have been inviting the country’s billionaires to dinner to persuade them to give more of their money to charity. Today, the Gateses and Mr. Buffett had an invitation of their own: to the White House, to talk about their “Giving Pledge” effort to convince the America’s wealthiest people to give half their wealth away.

The Gateses and Mr. Buffett met with President Obama in the Oval Office this morning, according to a statement from a White House official….

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Nonprofit Groups End Talks With Government Over Antiterror Guidelines

After trying for seven years to convince the Treasury Department to significantly alter its antiterror guidelines for giving abroad, charities are ending discussions out of frustration.

Nonprofits have long argued that the voluntary guidelines hype the potential of U.S. charities being exploited by terrorists and create a cloud of suspicion that dissuades people and foundations from giving abroad.

In a letter sent to the Treasury Department on November 8, a group of more than 70 nonprofit organi…

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Fla. Adopts Legislation to Protect Foundations’ Autonomy

Florida’s governor signed legislation last week aimed at curtailing how much state and local governments can do to regulate foundations and their diversity practices.

Drafted with help from the Alliance for Charitable Reform, the law prohibits Florida government officials from requiring that foundations disclose the race, religion, gender, income level, sexual orientation, or certain other characteristics of their employees and board members, as well as those of their grant recipients.

The new l…

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Two Charities File Ethics Complaint Against Beverage Group

The Humane Society of the United States and Mothers Against Drunk Driving filed an ethics complaint last week charging the American Beverage Institute, a group that represents restaurants, of engaging in illegal lobbying.

The beverage group is led by Richard Berman, a Washington lobbyist who oversees several nonprofit organizations that have attacked charities including the Humane Society and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. (See this Chronicle article on an anti-Humane Society advertising campaig…

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International Groups Urge Obama to Ease Giving Restrictions

More than 30 nonprofit organizations wrote to President Obama today urging him to ease antiterrorism restrictions that the groups say hinder legitimate charitable giving and aid work abroad.

The organizations — which include American Jewish World Service, the Charity and Security Network, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council — reminded Mr. Obama of a statement he made last June in Cairo in which he said that some charitable rules have made giving difficult for American Muslims and that he would…