Policy in Focus | Spring 2019

Advancing the advocacy voice of Minnesota philanthropy to promote charitable giving and philanthropy, and to create prosperity through inclusion and equity

By Katina Mortensen

MCF and the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership are leading efforts for a $2.5 million state appropriation to help Minnesota prepare for the 2020 Census. Efforts are focused on reaching hard-to-reach households (such as rural P.O. Boxes and apartments), adapting to the first digital census, and mobilizing historically undercounted communities. MCF hosted a Census briefing in Washington DC for staff from Minnesota’s Congressional delegation in February and is engaging the delegation in federal Census advocacy. The Supreme Court is expected to have a final decision about the addition of the citizenship question in June. MCF supports a fully-inclusive, nonpartisan, and accurate 2020 Census count.

After studying the state disaster system and exploring gaps and opportunities, the Minnesota Disaster Philanthropy working group is exploring ways to bolster a collaborative, cross-sector “whole community” approach to disaster response and recovery and support the needs of vulnerable populations following a disaster through investment in a reliable volunteer infrastructure. Many MCF members have also advocated for adequate funding of Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account, which is critical for the state to act quickly when disaster strikes. MCF supports disaster preparedness, response and recovery reform that is responsive to marginalized communities and prioritizes the most vulnerable.

MCF participated in Foundations on the Hill in March and met with MN’s Congressional delegation on tax policy issues that impact the sector. New charitable data for 2018 hints at the impact of 2017 tax reform on giving, which significantly decreased the number of taxpayers eligible for the charitable giving deduction. Two new studies show that while charitable giving increased for 2018, it didn’t keep up with inflation. Other relevant findings — the percentage of giving happening in December, gifts under $1000, new donors, and donor retention were all down in 2018. MCF anticipates data on the full effect of the new tax law won’t be available until 2020, as behavior may shift further after taxpayers go through a filing season with the new law in place. Nonprofit and philanthropy advocates are working to build Congressional support for a universal charitable deduction which would offer a charitable giving incentive to all taxpayers. MCF is encouraging members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to sign-on as co-authors of universal charitable giving deduction bills.

In-the-moment updates on these and all MCF public policy initiatives can be found on the Policy in Focus page. MCF’s monthly Policy in Focus e-newlsetter keeps you up-to-date.

Contact Bob Tracy (btracy@mcf.org) or Katina Mortensen (kmortensen@mcf.org) if you’d like to be added to this e-newsletter list. MCF’s board of directors approves all policy positions based on recommendations developed by MCF’s Government Relations and Public Policy Committee and its Tax Policy Subcommittee.