The Download Archive

The Download

December 19, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Policy Action and Legislative Limbo

As our Michigan lawmakers prepare to head home for the holidays, we’re looking at what saw legislative action in the lame duck session and what may remain in limbo heading into 2017.

Governor Rick Snyder signed bills aimed at providing greater opportunities to test, manufacture and operate self-driving vehicles in our state. As CMF reported last week, the infrastructure commission’s report recommended our state take a proactive approach in new technologies related to self-driving vehicles. Governor Snyder said the new legislation will ensure Michigan’s momentum continues, making our state a leader in the mobility industry.

Heat and Eat
In Michigan, the State Senate approved funding for the Heat and Eat program, providing assistance for 338,000 Michigan families, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP). The state’s involvement with the program lapsed in 2014 when the federal government raised the dollar amount needed by states to enroll a family. The state’s investment translates to an extra $76 per month for families in need.

Energy Reform
The energy overhaul in Michigan passed last week and now heads to Governor Snyder. The update means utilities in the state must generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021, instead of the current 10 percent requirement. Michigan lawmakers have been trying to pass energy reform for nearly two years, to update our 2008 energy standards.

In 2017, CMF is hosting regional clean energy transition meetings for community foundations throughout the state.

Flint Aid Package
The long-awaited $170 million aid package for Flint has been approved by the U.S. Senate. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office said in a release the package will provide $100 million in funding to help fix Flint’s water infrastructure, $50 million to address the health needs of children exposed to lead and authority for the state to forgive $20 million in past drinking water loans to Flint.

Michigan Community Foundation Act 
The bill that would allow for the transfer of income from the sale of unused assets from local public agencies to community foundations passed in the Senate but ran out of time in the lame duck session to be passed by the House. The legislation will need to be reintroduced in 2017. 

What’s Ahead on the Federal Level?
Congress approved continued funding for the federal government through April, by doing so Independent Sector said Congress also reinstated a provision preventing the IRS from offering new guidance about what constitutes political activity by nonprofit social welfare organizations.

In 2017 we expect to see tax reform, however there are several potential tax plans on the table so we don’t know exactly how it will affect charitable giving or the social sector.

The future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is uncertain as there have been calls for repealing and replacing or reforming it by the incoming administration. The National Council of Nonprofits says altering the ACA will “directly affect state finances – and impact the work of nonprofits beyond those providing healthcare.”

As for the U.S. Department of Labor’s overtime rule, it remains stalled, the department has not said if it will file an appeal in the new year.

We expect to gain more insights into policy changes and the potential impact on philanthropy once our newly elected lawmakers and incoming administration take office next month. CMF’s public policy fellow will be following the 2017 legislative action and developments in Lansing and on Capitol Hill.

Want more?
Join us in Washington, D.C. in 2017 for Foundations on the Hill







Lucy Bernholz's 2017 Blueprint is Here

A social sector blueprint is giving us insights about potential major trends ahead. GrantCraft has released Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017, the annual forecast by philanthropy expert and scholar Lucy Bernholz, of the Digital Civil Society Lab. Many CMF members look forward to this report each year. Here are highlights of Lucy's forecast.

The blueprint calls for advocacy to protect civil society and democracy by asking questions and making data-driven decisions, highlighting concerns that the line between philanthropy and politics are blurring and free expression could be threatened due to government surveillance and commercial ownership of our digital infrastructure.

The blueprint emphasizes the need to use data and our digital infrastructure in an effective and ethical way by collectively creating new organizational practices, software and legal requirements.  

As we look ahead to the future, Bernholz also shared her predictions for America and the world, a few of the data highlights include:

U.S. Predictions for 2017

  • Open 990 data will be used to create new indexes of nonprofit and foundation investment holdings
  • More philanthropic dollars will go to programs focused on disability rights
  • More social program evaluations will rely on the use of publicly collected data
  • Digital data storage and security costs will begin to exceed costs in nonprofit budgets

Global Predictions for 2017

  • Nonprofit approaches to artificial intelligence will increase (understanding it, using it, advocating for regulations)
  • Foundations will increasingly want evaluation and sector studies analyzing social media
  • Innovation of technologies for methods to monitor and report on police and nonprofit “alert” systems built around streams of government data will be a big focus area

Bernholz holds herself accountable in the annual report, reflecting on what she got right and wrong about the past year. She scored well on her 2016 predictions, time will tell how her 2017 predictions fare.

Finally, the blueprint examines what it calls a powerful movement in 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement, saying the evolution and influence will continue, and it will be studied for years to come as a historic lesson in activism. Bernholz asks organizations to look internally and see what they can learn from the movement from an organizational standpoint, leadership and multi-dimensional structure and support perspective, as we continue to adapt and grow to help our communities.

CMF was invited to participate in a social sector thought leader conversation in the development of the 2017 blueprint due to our work with illumidata, a data initiative designed to bring all forms of social sector data together in one easy to navigate platform.

Learn more about illumidata.

Read Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017, worksheets are also provided for organizations to utilize.

Check out Bernholz’s blog







What Foundation CEOs See for the Future

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) has provided insights from 200 CEOs from the largest foundations around the country, in a new report, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The foundation marked its 50th anniversary this year and wanted to find out what philanthropy will require in the next 50 years to address our society’s challenges and issues.


  • The CEOs said wealth and inequality, climate change and the environment and education are the most pressing issues we will face in the coming decades.
  • Almost 80 percent of the CEOs mentioned public policy, with many saying they see a “positive role for foundations in the public policy realm,” as an effective way of social change.

The barriers facing foundations
Some CEOs said a lack of collaboration with other funders stands in the way of progress for their foundations, noting that while many agree on the outcome, finding the same pathway to achieve it proves difficult. Other issues CEOs mentioned were internal challenges, such as not being on the same page internally or having too many focus areas dividing their resources and hampering them from achieving greater impact.

“We still have a passive ‘grantmaking’ culture and not enough of a ‘whatever it takes’ mindset,” an unnamed CEO said in the study.

Beyond aligning board, leadership, staff and trustees, CEOs said they feel they have limited resources, and political gridlock federally makes it difficult to address long-term issues. Almost all the CEOs surveyed said they believe foundations will need to change to address our future needs. The study points out, “despite all the worries expressed about foundations’ ability to change, many of those we interviewed would not shift their resources even if they could.”

What can foundations do to improve and adjust?

  • Shifting the mindset: Some CEOs said foundations need to be willing to change course and adjust for our most urgent issues, others are calling for more risks, transparency and taking proactive approaches
  • More collaboration: CEOs suggest funders convene on shared issues and develop better coordination to address issues

What’s next? CEP says there’s optimism in the report because most of what the CEOs identified as barriers, they’re able to change. The report calls for discussions about where we are and where we’re going, calling for those at the helm to identify barriers to progress, seek opportunities, collaborate and put plans and practices in place to address our most pressing issues now and in the next 50 years.

Read The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective








Inside our Michigan Community Foundations: A look at the data

The results are in for the Community Foundation Databook 2016 Edition, giving us a comprehensive look at the operational side of community foundations throughout our state. This year 96 percent of CMF's community foundation members participated in the survey, providing data on their assets, grants, gifts, finance and operations and program and mission related investments.


  • The participating community foundations awarded nearly $164.6 million in grants last fiscal year
  • Education received the highest dollar amount in grants awarded by community foundations, approximately $42.2 million
  • The other top funded fields included; arts, culture and humanities, community improvement and capacity building, human service and health

Impact investing

  • 24 percent of community foundations say they do program related investing (PRI)
  • 13 percent of the community foundations do mission related investing (MRI)

Check out the complete 2016 findings of the Community Foundation Databook in CMF’s Knowledge Center

CMF partnered with the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Jason Franklin, the W.K. Kellogg chair for Community Philanthropy this year, to take a broader look at the data. 






A Note of Gratitude

A Letter from Rob Collier

December provides a natural time for reflection and gratitude for the individual and collective efforts of our members and partners to grow the impact of Michigan philanthropy. From the Upper Peninsula to Detroit – impacting all 83 counties – we have seen new and renewed collaborations on a range of urgent issues.

While many examples come to mind, the outpouring of giving by Michiganders of all ages, and foundations of all types, for the people of Flint in responding both to the immediate and long-term needs caused by the water crisis has reminded us of how connected we all are in caring for each other. The work is not done in Flint or elsewhere in the state and opportunities abound for impact in the new year on issues ranging from education, healthcare, workforce development to transit and more.

This year has confirmed that in response to our members' request, CMF is on the right track with both the work of the Impact Investing Committee and the illumidata project. New and more sustainable solutions will come as we collaborate on all assets of philanthropy - our knowledge and data, our financial resources and our relationships.

With 42 new legislators in Lansing and 49 new members of Congress and a new administration in Washington, our policy work continues without pause. With 2017 marking the 25th anniversary of the Michigan Community Foundations' Youth Project (MCFYP) and the 100th anniversary of the federal charitable tax deduction – to name just two important benchmarks, and major federal tax reform expected, it is vital to share the value of our work with the public and policymakers.

A recent study from Independent Sector, in collaboration with the Communications Network, found that 85 percent of Americans want to hear more from foundations and nonprofits. We welcome your support in sharing your stories – the collective voice of impactful philanthropy in the new year, as we seek innovative and equitable solutions for all.

Philanthropy is being challenged like never before, and we know Michigan is up for the challenge. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of CMF, it is our pleasure and, indeed, our privilege to work alongside you. We look forward to all we can accomplish together in 2017.

Thank you for all that you do.

Rob Collier
President and CEO
Council of Michigan Foundations

News type: