“Insuring the Survival of the Charitable Deduction?”

January 11, 2017

Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers


By Susan Fields, CFRE

“AFP advocacy efforts at both the leadership and grassroots level will be vital in fighting proposed changes to the charitable deduction.”

Jason Lee, JD, Interim CFO, IAFP

Founded four years ago as a means of enhancing organizational solidarity, the AFP-NYC Annual Meeting provides members with a window on the upcoming year in terms of current industry trends as well as the future of giving--both nationally and internationally.  AFP-NYC Keynote speaker, Jason Lee,focused his timely address on the looming debate in Congress regarding the imposition of a hard cap on itemized deductions which would ultimately eliminate or curtail the charitable deduction which will celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2017. “Although generosity is motivated by altruism, there is no doubt that removing giving incentives of such longevity will have a serious impact on charitable giving.” It is for this reason that Mr. Lee emphasized the IAFP’s commitment to a strong 2017 advocacy campaign which will include lobbying Congress and members of the new administration, activating “grassroots” efforts through AFP chapters, and engaging the media and public to protect this vital motivation to philanthropy. Fundraisers and nonprofit leaders are encouraged to write to the President, contact their representatives in Congress, and join the IAFP in taking part in the Charitable Gift Coalition “Fly In” to Washington DC set Thursday, February 16th .   



Martha H. Schumacher, CFRE, ACFRE, Chair-Elect of the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (IAFP), welcomed the group and congratulated AFP NYC for its outstanding work in supporting and educating fundraising professionals and leaders. “It is impossible to know what changes will occur; however, in order for the social impact sector to remain relevant—ingenuity, inspiration, and innovation will be crucial ingredients going forward.”
Susan Shattuck, AFP-NYC President,  reviewed the accomplishments of the past year which included: revamping the chapter newsletter;  creation of the Diversity & Inclusion and Mentoring Programs;  remaking National Philanthropy Day into a compelling “storytelling” event; the outstanding success of 2016 Fundraising Day in NYC; and the Chapter’s receipt of the IAFP Charles R. Stephens Award for Excellence in Diversity.  
The Chamberlain Award was presented to Harry Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Skanky Communications for his distinguished career of service to the nonprofit sector spanning more than forty years.  Harry’s outstanding support of the AFP and philanthropy goes back to the 1960’s when it was first formed as the National Society for Fundraising Professionals (NSFRE) and continues through his current role as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.  


Panel Discussion - Planning for the Future: It has often been said that the only thing humans can truly count on is ongoing change and uncertainty. This is particularly true in times of economic and political upheaval and transition. With a new administration in Washington DC both the private and nonprofit sector are watching for new trends and policies that will affect their growth and wellbeing. Nonprofits that are proactive will be most apt to thrive in the future no matter what it may bring. An outstanding panel of experts comprised of both funders and fundraisers provided useful insights and ideas in dealing with the challenges and opportunities that will present themselves in the coming months and years.


Mary Thompson, Journalist

Former CNBC Reporter

“Show business is famously collaborative! Partners can be

 highly beneficial to your organization.”

Joseph P. Benincasa, President and CEO

The Actors Fund

“It’s important to tell your story accompanied by solid numbers.”

Elizabeth Cribbs, President, Neuberger Berman Foundation

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Neuberger Berman

“When approaching a funder, make certain your organization

 is a good fit for their funding parameters.”

Heather Nesle, President, New York Life Foundation

Vice President, New York Life Insurance Company

“Get to know your donors as people—what they like and are interested in, birthdays, names of kids, and special milestones in their lives.”

Joseph Petuleia, Executive Director

Madison Square Boys & Girls Club


Key Takeaways:


  • Contact major donors during times of uncertainty regarding the tax code to encourage them to “fast track” their pledge installments when new rules might be put in place to limit or eliminate their deductions in the near future.
  • When changes in the economy or other external factors threaten to compromise your organization’s financial future—plan, plan, plan! This is a good time to “dust off” your organization’s Strategic Plan and review its budget to determine what changes need to be made to weather the coming storms.
  • Employee activism can go a long way in influencing public policy. Unite with your colleagues and encourage your organization’s President to write public letters to high profile corporate CEO’s asking them to support policies in Washington that are beneficial to the nonprofit sector.
  • Keep on trucking! Relationships matter! Regardless of the political and financial climate, remember to keep your donors engaged in your organization by telling and retelling your story.  One of the best ways to maintain or attract corporate support is to create a bond with the funder by utilizing their employees as volunteers.
  • Branding, governance, integrity, best practices rule! Establish partnerships in your city and community whenever possible and get the word out through multiple medias regarding the work your organization does and its impact on the people that it serves. 

Fundraising Day in New York 2017

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