IACG Commemorates One-Year Anniversary on Giving Tuesday

This Giving Tuesday marks one-year since philanthropists, leaders of major foundations, and members across the philanthropic sector joined together to launch the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving (IACG). Throughout this past year, IACG embarked on a robust effort promoting common-sense reforms that would restore the connection between charitable tax benefits and benefits to charities.

We launched last year on Giving Tuesday to commemorate the essential and impactful work of nonprofits throughout the country and as a reminder that we must use all tools available to get resources to these organizations in a timely manner. As Americans continue to give in monumental strides during the holiday season, modernizing our charitable giving tax laws can help ensure charitable donations reach working charities all year long.

As IACG celebrates this milestone, we’re looking back and reflecting on what nonprofits, foundations, and other philanthropic leaders and experts have said previously about why they joined the coalition and support reforming the status quo to accelerate resources to working charities:

John Arnold, Founder and Co-Chair of Arnold Ventures: “If you’re wondering about the disparity between the immense philanthropic wealth in this country and the daily fight most charities have to wage to stay alive, look no further than charitable tax laws. The rules disincentivize philanthropists from giving with any sense of urgency: foundations and donor-advised funds get immediate tax breaks, and feel no pressure to deliver resources to where they are needed: charities solving this generation’s most pressing problems.”

Stephanie Ellis-Smith, Co-Founder of Give Blck: “Give Blck is proud to join the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving and drive much-needed change to improve how funders address the giving gaps in non-profit funding. We are at a turning point where companies and individuals want to give more to Black nonprofits. We hope that our presence reminds participants, funders, and legislators alike that reforming our charitable giving laws is a crucial step towards achieving racial and economic equity in our sector.”

Bill Graves, President of Graves Foundation: “IACG’s efforts to close tax loopholes will play a critical role in quickly moving charitable funds to working nonprofits across the country. IACG’s initiative will encourage both the Graves Foundation and foundations and donor advised funds across the country to focus our attention and resources away from private control and towards community.”

Jerry Hirsch, Chairman of The Lodestar Foundation: “The reforms proposed by the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving will realign our charitable giving laws with the true purpose of philanthropy, and maximize the impact of our philanthropic dollars. By accelerating payouts from charitable vehicles, more money will flow to nonprofits that are making a difference every day in communities across Arizona and the nation.”

Larry Kramer, President of Hewlett Foundation: “The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving has developed a thoughtful proposal to update the nation’s tax laws and align incentives so that the whole philanthropic sector can meet its dual purpose of providing aid for dire, immediate needs such as COVID relief – and building and sustaining the ideas, institutions, and movements to address society’s most pressing and complex long-term problems, from racism to climate change.”

Melanie Lundquist, Activist Philanthropist: “Richard and I give our money in big bets to make systemic change, and we intend to spend our last philanthropic dollar with our last breath. While I understand why people establish foundations or fund DAFs, we need to tighten the rules, especially today, and that is why I’ve joined the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving.”

Ray Madoff, Professor of Law: “Giving Tuesday reminds us of the essential work that charities do every day in communities across the country. As we dig deep to support charities on Giving Tuesday at a time of unprecedented need, it’s important to leverage all available tools, including reforming design flaws in our charitable giving tax laws, which currently provide no assurances that private foundations or donor-advised funds will ever be put to charitable use.”

Paul Major, President and CEO of Telluride Foundation: “Community foundations play a critical role in tackling pressing and complex issues on a local level. Hunger, climate change, racial justice, education, the digital divide, and housing are among issues that need to get addressed now and locally. Donor advised funds are a great tool for community foundations and have provided huge opportunities for local communities. The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving’s reforms recognize the unique role played by community foundations and would unlock critical resources that allow them to further their missions and tackle some of society’s biggest challenges. This is how philanthropy should function: addressing today’s compounding issues rather than storing money over time.” 

Jon Pratt, Former Executive Director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: “The U.S. is a generous nation when it comes to charitable contributions, but our tax laws have not kept up with changes in financial structures, so we see a decreasing percentage of charitable funds actually put to work. Minnesota nonprofits support the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving’s policy reforms because it would help make more resources that have already been subsidized directly available to community organizations addressing urgent public needs.”

David Risher, CEO and Co-Founder of Worldreader: “There has never been a more important time to put charitable dollars to work. While many non-profits continue to work tirelessly to keep kids learning and provide other essential services during the pandemic, they are struggling and need our support. We must restore the connection between charitable tax benefits and benefits to working charities so that they can continue serving our communities and addressing the most pressing issues of our time.”

Chris Stadler, Chairman of the Board at Global Citizen: “As a global advocacy organization, we believe the time to do more—and give more—is right now. Increasing and accelerating giving to charities must be elevated as a top priority as these crucial organizations respond to today’s unprecedented crises, particularly within marginalized communities. The policy reforms proposed by the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving are an important step forward in ensuring the organizations have the resources they need to meet the moment, to drive change and to achieve results.”

Mark Swann, Executive Director of Preble Street: “From the opioid crisis to homelessness, nonprofits in Maine are working tirelessly to address some of our communities’ biggest challenges. The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving’s proposals are critical to unlocking more charitable dollars for these organizations so they can continue to meet the needs of Mainers each day.”

Kat Taylor, Founder of the TomKat Foundation and Co-Founder of Beneficial State Bank: “[I]t’s time to bring more accountability to philanthropy to preserve its credibility. The first step must be changing the preferential treatment wealthy donors receive from taxpayers…The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving (IACG) proposes reforms that address these tax loopholes and will help return philanthropy to its original purpose – fulfilling public benefit. I joined the IACG to build support for new charitable giving tax laws that help solve the problems of today, and mandate the necessary changes that philanthropy should have begun making on its own, internally, years ago.”

Edgar Villanueva, Principal, Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital: “The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving’s proposed donor-advised fund reforms are key to catalyzing the accelerated wealth redistribution needed to support people of color-led organizations that are collectively shifting the landscape of social justice in this country. The IACG reforms move us closer to the true intent of philanthropy – to love and promote the welfare of our fellow humans.”

Katherine Vockins, Founder and Executive Director of Rehabilitation Through The Arts: “RTA is proud to join The Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving in calling for these critical reforms because they address outdated provisions in the current tax structure and lead the way toward more equity within the system. Given the challenges of prison reform and of creating impactful programs, the ability for RTA to harness increased funding now would enable RTA to expand its programs to many more potential RTA participants, thereby affecting their parole hearings and—because RTA participants’ recidivism rates are so dramatically lower than the national rate—actively helping to reduce mass incarceration. We hope these reforms will allow RTA and non-profits like us to engage more deeply in the work that will create lasting change within our communities.”