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From Colorado to the Capitol: SEI Staff Meets with US Congressional Leadership

by | Oct 3, 2022 | FEATURED STORIES

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, SEI has a vested interest in the laws and policies that make it possible to fundraise and support donors’ charitable giving goals, especially in the US where it’s incorporated. With the launch of the SE Professional Association on the horizon, SEI will have new ways to engage in policy advocacy that benefits the SE community. 

In July, SEI’s Development Manager, Emily Tworek, traveled to Mt. Vernon, NY with colleagues from the Association of Fundraising Professionals to meet with US Representative Jamaal Bowman (Democrat, NY-16) and discuss policy initiatives that would encourage and simplify philanthropy nationwide: charitable IRA rollovers, the extension of the Universal Charitable Deduction, and evaluating and reforming postal rate increases to ease the burden on nonprofits doing direct mail outreach.  

Representative Bowman, whose district includes the towns of Yonkers and New Rochelle in New York, USA, is a first-term congressman first elected in 2020. He is the Vice Chair for the House Committee on Education and Labor, its subcommittees; Civil Rights and Human Services, Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, Higher Education and Workforce Investment, and sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, serving as Chair for its Energy subcommittee. 

The meeting with Representative Bowman was one of many AFP Government Relations & Legislation teams held over the summer with representatives across the United States to advocate for action on these issues impacting donors as they make plans for giving back this year. 

Among the issues on the table, the team discussed: 

Charitable IRA rollovers: the team thanked Rep. Bowman for his support of the EARN act which allows donors aged 70.5 or older in the US to make charitable contributions from their retirement accounts (called Qualified Charitable Distributions) to public charities, which is then excluded from taxable income and counts towards a donor’s required minimum distribution from their retirement account (IRA). 

Universal Charitable Gift Deductions: In 2020 and 2021, under the CARES Act, US taxpayers who did not itemize their tax deductions were eligible to write off $300 as a single filer or $600 for those filing jointly in charitable gifts. This deduction had not existed previously, and the 88% of Americans who did not itemize their tax deductions were not eligible to receive tax benefits for their generous contributions to nonprofits like SEI. The AFP team encouraged Rep. Bowman to co-sponsor H.R. 1704 before the end of the year, which not only would re-instate the Charitable Gift Deduction for 2022, but also would increase the deduction to around $4,000 for single filers and $8,000 for joint filers.  

Postage: Over the next five years, postage rates in the US are expected to increase by 30-40% if rate caps are not introduced at the federal level. For nonprofits who rely on direct mail to communicate with their constituents or do direct mail outreach, this rate increase can severely impact their ability to work towards their missions. 

Not only do these issues impact the ability of nonprofit organizations like SEI to do their work, they have an impact of the lives of donors as well. 

Photo: Vikki Jones, Planned Giving Officer, Weill Cornell Medicine; Gary Weinberg, AFP NYC Government Relations & Legislative Committee Chair and DM Pros President; U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman; Emily Tworek, SEI Development Manager. 

Not only was this a great opportunity to advocate for nonprofits and philanthropy, but SEI’s work is now on the radar of some of the most influential politicians and public advocates in the US. SEI is excited to follow the progress of these legislative opportunities and continue to support our staff in developing as professionals and leaders. 

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