Michigan Philanthropy’s Efforts Cited in Capitol Hill Hearing on Charitable Giving
A hearing focused on efforts that policymakers can support to incentivize charitable giving during the COVID-19 crisis was held on Capitol Hill last week. In opening remarks, lawmakers acknowledged that the pandemic has led many Americans to turn to nonprofits for support and basic needs, yet nonprofits are facing serious economic challenges themselves.
Prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing the total number of individuals giving on the decline and a drop in giving among Americans from lower-income households.
In 2016, the average American donor contributed $2,763, or about 3.7% of income.
Participation rates and giving levels among individuals with high education, wealth and income have generally held steady or increased.
However, there’s been a clear decline in participation rates when it comes to charitable giving among low and middle-income Americans and those who do not have a high school education.
Lawmakers said they recognized the unique challenges these trends and the pandemic bring to the nonprofit sector. “Especially in the wake of the COVID emergency, leveraging charitable giving should be a top priority for those of us tasked with reviving our economy,” Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia and vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee said.
CMF continues to advocate for Michigan to reinstate our charitable tax credit to help to incentivize all Michigan residents to give. CMF is also working alongside our national infrastructure partners to enhance charitable giving provisions included in the CARES Act by advocating that the temporary $300 above the line deduction be increased and extended beyond the 2020 tax year.
Dr. Una Osili of the Lily Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University provided testimony at the hearing. She recommended increasing the above the line deduction and making the deduction retroactive to the 2019 tax filings.
Osili told lawmakers that beyond public policy, to meet the complex challenges of needs arising from COVID-19, “We need to examine how individuals and organizations across public, business and nonprofit sectors can work together effectively to address immediate and long-term challenges.”
Osili pointed to the work of several CMF members as successful models of COVID-19 response efforts.
“In Michigan, a collaboration of philanthropic organizations rapidly joined forces to supply computer tablets with high-speed internet connectivity to Detroit Public School students,” Osili said. “The $23 million fund, called Connected Futures, addresses the digital divide for K-12 students. A national fund, the Coronavirus Care Fund (CCF), provides emergency assistance for qualifying domestic workers who are facing hardship, and over 100,000 people around the country have contributed to the fund. Another national fund, the Families and Workers Fund focuses on workers and families who have been affected by job loss and school shutdowns.”
Connected Futures is a collaborative effort that includes The Skillman Foundation, DTE Energy, Quicken Loans, the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the city of Detroit aimed at providing tablets and technical support to 51,000 DPSCD students.
The Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and others launched the Families and Workers Fund to serve the workers, families and communities most devastated by the economic and health crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the recording of the hearing.
CMF’s policy team is providing sample language you can use for outreach to your lawmakers to share the work you are doing in response to COVID-19. In an effort to ensure our policy team can best support your continued engagement with lawmakers and continue to lift up our community’s collective voice at the state and federal levels we encourage you to include Regina Bell, director of government relations and public policy and Kyra Hudson, CMF public policy fellow on your outreach.
Download the sample language for community foundations.
Download the sample language for all CMF members.
Nonprofits Share Challenges Amid the Pandemic
We are getting insights directly from nonprofits about the challenges they have been facing over the last several months through the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s (CEP) latest report: Funder Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Through a national survey, CEP received responses from 172 participants from nonprofit CEOs at organizations that receive at least one grant from foundations giving $5 million or more annually.
In the report CEP shared three key findings:
While COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on most nonprofits, the negative impacts have been magnified for those providing direct services and which serve historically disadvantaged communities. Demand for these nonprofits’ services has increased by 55%, while funding has decreased. In response, many nonprofits are intently listening to clients to ensure they receive the necessary resources and are developing strategies to quickly meet their growing needs.
During this time, nonprofits that rely on foundation funding are experiencing fewer negative impacts and more stable funding than those relying more so on earned revenue or gifts from individual donors. According to the report, 52% of nonprofits that are largely funded by non-foundation sources reported that the pandemic has had a significant impact on their work compared to only 26% of those funded by foundations. Additionally, gifts from major donors (categorized as those above the $7,500 giving mark) have decreased by 43% during the pandemic.
Major donors are significantly less likely to have talked with nonprofits that are led by women about how they will support them in the future. According to CEP, gender of the nonprofit leader matters when it comes to transparency about future funding from major donors. 53% of major donors who give to female-led nonprofits have not spoken to the organization about future plans for support compared to only 17% of major donors to male-led nonprofits.
According to respondents, nonprofits have greatly appreciated staffed foundations’ actions such as extending deadlines for grants, waiving reporting deadlines and automatically renewing grants.
Throughout the pandemic, many CMF members have adapted their policies, procedures and work with their nonprofit partners to create flexibility and increase their support during this time. In CMF’s Resource Central we have a robust list of examples of how CMF members have approached these changes with their nonprofit partners. As reflected in our webpage of CMF members’ response and relief funds, many members deployed response funding and immediate support to nonprofits. CMF, along with more of 20 of our members have also signed on to Philanthropy's Commitment During COVID-19 Pledge to ensure flexibility in grantmaking and in work with nonprofit partners.
In recent months we have seen foundations across Michigan and beyond pivot and adapt their practices in many ways to support nonprofits.
The Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in partnership with other funders announced last week they are increasing their payouts to nonprofits over the next three years to sustain the sector following the pandemic and the social injustices we are witnessing in our country.
"This is a time that calls for bold leadership and innovation," La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation said. "Philanthropy needs to respond to the scale of the challenges we are facing. Post-pandemic, our grantees, communities, and partner organizations will need to be strong to re-imagine and rebuild systems centered on racial equity. They have the leadership, knowledge, and resolve to advance their communities; we want to be a catalytic partner in that process."
Read the full CEP report.
To foster continued learning, connections and shared understanding about Michigan philanthropy’s response, relief, recovery and reform efforts connected to COVID-19, we encourage you to share your organization’s COVID-19 response with us via this online form. All information submitted by our members will be populated in COVID-19 Resource Central for you to quickly access the latest approaches, strategies and collaborations underway around the state.
New Report Focuses on Reducing Wayne County Jail Population
The Hudson-Webber Foundation and The Vera Institute of Justice have released a new report focused on reducing Wayne County Jail’s population to provide a framework that will help meet the goal of reducing unnecessary use of local incarceration while increasing equity and public safety.
Safe and just communities is one of the Hudson-Webber Foundation’s mission areas, as the foundation supports innovative, racially equitable strategies that reduce crime and victimization and that improve community well-being. The foundation is particularly focused on deterring crime and reducing recidivism through diversion and re-entry interventions and by strengthening relationships between law enforcement and residents that enable the co-production of public safety.
The foundation has been working deeply in this area for years, co-hosting the Michigan Safety and Justice Roundtable, supporting connected research to provide recommendations for justice reform in Michigan and more.
Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and CMF trustee shared in a message announcing the release of the report: “This report is being released at a moment of national reckoning occasioned by the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement. Incidents of police brutality are the most visible manifestation of a broken justice system that has had brutalizing effects on African American communities, including the devastating harm brought on by policies that have resulted in a staggering number of African Americans incarcerated in our jails and prisons.”
The report shares that African Americans are disproportionately represented in the Wayne County Jail. On any given day, African Americans are 3.5 times more likely than white people to be in the jail.
Other key findings include:
53% of the average daily population of the jail is people simply waiting for trial.
39% of people with bonds of $5,000 or less remained in jail until their cases were resolved because they could not afford to pay bail.
Misdemeanor charges—such as suspended licenses or lack of insurance—make up 14% of the jail’s bookings.
The findings highlight that there are many opportunities to further reduce the jail population and support the county’s interest in safety and fairness.
Recommendations from the report include:
Provide oversight for the criminal justice system by creating a permanent criminal justice council to share information regularly with the public.
Reduce pretrial incarceration by expanding the use of personal recognizance instead of cash bonds.
Reevaluate approaches to community supervision by expanding pretrial options outside of tethering.
Reduce the overrepresentation of Black people in the system by collecting information and creating a dedicated framework to address racial disparities.
Partner with communities to address violence and other harm by clearly identifying what is considered a violent offense and investing in resources to prevent the underlying causes of violent behavior.
The authors of the report acknowledge that much has changed in our world since the report was written, stating in part that while the pandemic “has brought devastation and tragedy, it also has heightened the importance of reducing the population of local jails. Wayne County, like other jurisdictions across the country, has an opportunity to learn from the experience of rapid decarceration and reconceptualize how its jail will be used when the immediate crisis of the pandemic passes and regular life begins to resume.”
Read the full report.
Fighting Summer Food Insecurity
Summer can be a time of food insecurity for Michigan children who rely on school meals while school is in session—a pandemic exacerbates this need.
According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, over 345,000 Michigan children face food insecurity, meaning they don’t have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food banks are already stretched thin due to increased demand from the pandemic.
“In the midst of all this stress of living in a pandemic—something that hasn't happened to us in 100 years—the stress of being food insecure is just debilitating in and of itself," Phil Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan told The Detroit News. "Living under that stress, that's why we're working as hard as we are."
Efforts are underway to ensure our state’s children have access to adequate food supplies during their time out of school, supplementing the work done to feed kids during school closures from the pandemic, including:
Starting June 30, school districts with 50% or more students who receive free or reduced lunch will be allowed to distribute meals throughout the summer.
The Food Bank Council of Michigan is working to provide Emergency Food Assistance boxes for children and families in need, with boxes containing produce, dairy and protein. It also hosts a virtual food drive for families and seniors who need food assistance during the pandemic.
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is utilizing federal dollars to provide meals to children and families over the summer. Michigan is slated to receive $45 million to help with the distribution of supplemental food that typically goes to restaurants and retailers. Schools and sponsors will be allowed to distribute meals to children and families through August 31, delaying the typical end date.
While these organizations work to ensure Michigan children and families have access to food over the summer, they also call upon Michiganders to give what they can to help their fellow residents.
"Food donations are desperately needed to meet historically high demand at a time when food supplies are dangerously low, and collectively, we can make a huge difference," Jennifer Holton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development told The Detroit News.
Learn more about the Food Bank Council of Michigan.
Rotary Charities of Traverse City Partners to Provide Low-Interest Loan to Goodwill Northern Michigan
Content excerpted and adapted from a 9&10 News article. Read the full article.
Rotary Charities of Traverse City shared on social media that they have partnered with Northern Trust Corporation to make a low-interest loan to Goodwill Northern Michigan through Rotary Charities’ Community Investment Program. The loan is aimed at helping to close the gap in revenue that was created when retail stores closed during shelter in place and to ensure that Goodwill can continue providing vital services to those most vulnerable in the area.
“This project shows you what the power of partnership can bring,” Becky Ewing, executive director of Rotary Charities said. “The entire pool is a $3 million low-interest, at .25% interest for 5 years. And it really helped Goodwill. Northern Trust came in with that $2.75 million, then our board committed $250,000 to make up the $3 million loan.”
Goodwill told 9&10 News that the pandemic affected their store revenue. Goodwill also provides emergency shelter, Street Outreach and the Food Rescue Program.
“They are a critical organization in our region,” Ewing said. “They provide housing, not just food but healthy food through Food Rescue. We knew at this time when people are hurting the most, if Goodwill went away, a whole sector of the most vulnerable people would not be served. People will be homeless; people will go without food.”