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U.S. Senate Creates Philanthropy Caucus

Two U.S. senators have created a Senate Philanthropy Caucus to look at ways to help foundations and charities.

Sens. Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, sent a letter to colleagues in late July asking them to join the caucus to “support the long tradition of good works by the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.”

The letter praises philanthropy for improving American culture in areas including education, clean water, public health, and public libraries; strengthening nonprofit groups; and allowing communities to try new ideas and test theories.

“The work done by private foundations, nonprofit groups, and individual philanthropists plays essential roles in each of our states and it is increasingly important for Members of Congress to be informed about developments in the philanthropic sector,” it says.

The Council on Foundations, which has been trying to improve relations with Congress following several years of investigations into alleged charitable abuses, has been encouraging both the House and Senate to set up caucuses to increase awareness of issues affecting the nonprofit world.

The House set up the Congressional Philanthropy Caucus more than a year ago, chaired by Robin Hayes, Republican of North Carolina, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrat of Ohio.

That caucus, which now has 44 members, has held one official meeting—-in the spring, when a Council on Foundations official provided an overview to two House members and about 20 Congressional aides about how foundations work, said Rodney Emory, the council’s vice president of government relations.

The two co-chairs also sent letters urging House members to participate in “District Days,” a project sponsored by the council and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers to get foundations to set up meetings with members of Congress while they are in their home states during the August break, Mr. Emory said. He said more than 100 meetings have been scheduled.

The council is hoping to set up another briefing for both philanthropy caucuses sometime in the fall, Mr. Emory said.

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