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Deepening Partnerships with Federal Policymakers

Members of our CMF community engaged with policymakers last week during the virtual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2022, presented by United Philanthropy Forum and in partnership with the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector.

Members of our CMF community engaged with policymakers last week during the virtual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) 2022, presented by United Philanthropy Forum and in partnership with the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector.

During this year’s event, our Michigan Congressional members were represented in the opening and closing keynotes. 

To kickoff FOTH, Kyle Caldwell, CMF president and CEO welcomed Congresswoman Debbie Dingell as the featured keynote speaker. 

Dingell shared her experiences partnering with philanthropy during the pandemic and the value of these partnerships moving forward. 

“Congress has a role in our recovery, we would not have made it this far in our recovery if it was not for the philanthropic work. We have to continue to work together to do the work that is going to be needed to get COVID-19 behind us and you know what, it isn't behind us, we're going to see another surge,” Dingell said. 

Dingell underscored the importance of philanthropy’s voice on key policy issues.

“When we give the charitable sector a voice in shaping public policy, all communities benefit. That is why I am very committed to bettering the relationship between the federal government and nonprofits and making sure that everyone’s got a seat at the table. We need your expertise on policy matters, and we want to work with you,” Dingell said. 

Dingell also shared her support of Congressman Fred Upton who announced his retirement during FOTH.

Congressman Upton served over 30 years as a member of the Michigan delegation and serves as vice-chair of the bipartisan group Problem Solvers Caucus. He has deep roots in Michigan philanthropy, his father served on CMF’s Board of Trustees for several years and his grandfather co-founded the Whirpool Corporation and founded the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, a CMF member.

Congressman Upton has engaged with our Michigan community of philanthropy over the years during FOTH to deepen relationships and better understand how policy and the nonprofit sector can work together.

“Congressman Upton – he would insist on calling him, Fred – is a stalwart champion for the sector. For his nearly four decades of public service, he has sought out bipartisan solutions, advanced collaboration as a virtue to achieve equitable solutions for his district and all our communities. Fred comes to this practical problem solving naturally. From his father’s service as a trustee of CMF to the Congressman’s own engagement with CMF and our members, he has always worked to find ways to address important issues and seen philanthropy as a valued partner. Our community of philanthropy is truly grateful for his dedicated service to Michigan,” Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of CMF said. 

During the closing session of this year’s FOTH, Caldwell joined Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector in conversation with Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Congressman Upton’s legislative assistant, Alec Zender, to discuss the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act.

The forthcoming legislation, which is expected to be introduced by Upton and McCollum soon, is designed to create mechanisms that leverage the mission, knowledge and impact of nonprofits to help government and the philanthropic sector work together more effectively in pursuit of shared goals. 

The legislation would establish several structures for engaging nonprofits with the federal government. Specifically, the legislation would create a White House Office of Nonprofit Sector Partnership, an interagency council to promote government/nonprofit partnerships and an advisory board made up of nonprofit leaders.

CMF will share more details on the legislation as soon as it is officially introduced for consideration.

Beyond the programming featuring Michigan policymakers and philanthropy, CMF members engaged in a series of 15 individual virtual meetings with policymakers. 

In the conversations, CMF members lifted up powerful stories of philanthropy’s work in their communities to attract and retain talent and create a culture of giving, lifted up the needs in our communities across key policy focus areas and highlighted philanthropy as a resource for expertise and a bridge-builder within communities and with other partners. 

“To meet with lawmakers on the same day as the historic confirmation vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson underscored for me the need for FOTH. It's imperative that we share our stories of impactful philanthropy with lawmakers and identify critical areas of public/private partnership that will improve the lived experience and trajectory of the communities that we serve,” Shannon Polk, president and CEO of Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation said. 

The meetings also served as an opportunity to hear about the legislators’ current priorities and how philanthropy can work in partnership for thriving, equitable communities across Michigan. 

While CMF members still have a remaining FOTH meeting planned for later this month with Senator Gary Peters, we look forward to lifting up the power of partnerships beyond FOTH as CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team continues to organize and facilitate opportunities for our CMF community to engage with policymakers year-round.

Want more? 

For those interested in connecting with policymakers beyond Foundations on the Hill or exploring way to engage in advocacy, connect with Regina Bell, CMF’s director of government relations and public policy.

CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team recently hosted a virtual conversation around advocacy and how to effectively engage with policymakers. Watch the recording. 

Hear from CMF members about why they engage in Foundations on the Hill.