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Engaging with Our Federal Policymakers

In two weeks, members of our community of Michigan philanthropy and CMF staff will engage in Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) visits with our federal policymakers.

A photo of the US Capital

In two weeks, members of our community of Michigan philanthropy and CMF staff will engage in Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) visits with our federal policymakers.

Through a series of virtual meetings taking place April 5-7, we will discuss the opportunities for philanthropy and government to work in partnership for thriving, equitable communities across Michigan.

FOTH has been a valuable tool over the years to build relationships with our federal delegation and advocate for our sector and our communities.

“I’m looking forward to participating in FOTH because it’s a great opportunity to connect my passion for philanthropy with a larger arena and to help elected officials learn more about how philanthropy contributes to our social fabric,” Angela Graham, director of Southwest Michigan Strategies at The Fetzer Institute said. 

With the guidance of CMF’s member-led FOTH Planning Committee, led by Jennifer Poteat, trustee at the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, in partnership with several other members of CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy Committee (GRPPC), the conversations with policymakers are designed to build their understanding of philanthropy’s work in their communities that attracts and retains talent and creates a culture of giving, empowering the community to invest in their priorities.

“As a corporate grantmaker, I get to show a different side of the company that policymakers may not see when they typically deal mostly with corporate lobbyists who have very different business-oriented agendas. It’s of tremendous value to my company to be able to tell the stories of our grantmaking and impacts to policymakers, reinforcing who we are as a Michigan business that cares about the communities we serve,” Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation and GRPPC member said. 

These CMF-member-led conversations will highlight three specific lanes of partnership: 

•    Fostering Economic Prosperity: Addressing the student debt crisis by increasing financial aid transparency and using innovative ways to reduce student debt while attracting and retaining talent in local communities. 

•    Strengthening Philanthropy: Expanding access to charitable giving incentives by giving working families a tax break for charitable giving, empowering them to invest in their communities in ways that reflect their priorities and values 

•    Issues That Affect the Health of the Charitable Sector: Encourage policymakers to invite philanthropy to the table and ensure we are part of the dialogue when creating policy that effects philanthropy. 

Through these FOTH visits and conversations throughout the year with policymakers, philanthropy will be highlighted as a resource for expertise and as a bridge-builder within communities and with other partners.

“I have been participating in FOTH for a very long time and there has never been a more important time for us to share with policymakers how philanthropy is tapped to fill the gaps when government funding has been eliminated, reduced or redirected. Opportunities for partnership are greater than ever before – and we need to make sure our policymakers remember us as a critical part of the solutions they are trying to achieve – bringing us to the table during the planning, not at the end when our dollars are needed,” Bloodworth said. 

Dave Mengebier, president and CEO of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, CMF trustee and GRPPC co-chair shared that policymakers view philanthropy as an objective and unbiased source of information on a wide range of policy issues so it is important we engage with them. 

“There are many examples of federal policies impacting the priorities of Michigan philanthropy such as tax policy, voting rights, pandemic relief and the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, to name just a few. FOTH provides a unique opportunity for our community to share our perspective on these issues and to educate congressional members and staff on how these policies would affect the people and communities we serve,” Mengebier said.  

CMF members and staff will also hear from policymakers on the issues they care about most and where they may see opportunities to work in collaboration. 

“I’m eager to learn from our elected officials what is top of mind for them and how we can work together to help enrich and improve our communities. FOTH is an important opportunity to continue to expand the idea of ‘we the people’ and build mutual respect across differences in order to advance the common good. At the end of the day, we really are all in this together,” Graham said. 

Registration for FOTH is open. CMF members can register through the United Philanthropy Forum to join FOTH programming and engage in CMF-hosted policymaker meetings. 

“For CMF members who have not had an opportunity to participate in FOTH and are perhaps uncertain about how they would fit in and contribute, the CMF staff make participation in FOTH really easy. They do an exceptional job of preparing participants for these meetings, handling all of the scheduling, providing excellent briefing materials, facilitating meeting prep and the meetings themselves,” Mengebier said. 

Ahead of FOTH, CMF's Government Relations Public Policy team is hosting a virtual conversation this Wednesday to help deepen your knowledge of advocacy and how to effectively engage with policymakers. 

During FOTH, the CMF team will be providing real-time updates on all things FOTH via our social media channels. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @michfoundations via the hashtags #FOTH2022 and #CMFontheHill.

Want more?

Learn more and register for Foundations on the Hill 2022. 

Register for Advancing Change Through Advocacy, happening March 23.

View CMF’s 2022 Government Relations Goals. 

View CMF's Policy Domains and Principles.