Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: Updated Federal Grants Guidance

Friday, April 5, 2024 - 1:39 pm
Government Affairs Team
Council Connection: Updates for Council Members

Public policy news and updates for the philanthropic sector

News from the Council (and Friends)

Practice and Purpose of Policy

As organizations committed to strengthening community foundations, CFLeads and the Council on Foundations are partnering to offer a new public policy and advocacy training course for community foundations. Practice and Purpose of Policy will provide community foundation leaders and staff with the knowledge and resources needed to excel in advocating for the nonprofits and communities doing the hard work of social change. Register today to join us May 21-22.

New Report on Narratives in Philanthropy

Our new report, “Philanthropy's New Voice: Building Trust With Deeper Stories and Clear Language” offers science-backed strategies for foundations to build understanding and trust, starting with the words they use and the stories they tell. It is the result of a yearlong research collaboration between the Council on Foundations and the Center for Public Interest Communications. Download your copy today.

Independent Sector seeks policy proposals to strengthen philanthropy

Calling nonprofit practitioners and academics! Submit your proposals by Monday, April 15, 2024 for the 13th Annual Symposium on Public Policy for Nonprofits, hosted by Independent Sector, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), and Nonprofit Policy Forum. Learn more about this year’s theme, “Nonprofit Civic Infrastructure: A Recipe for a Thriving Nation.

What We're Tracking in DC

Office of Management and Budget Finalizes Updates to Federal Grants Guidance 

The Biden Administration released finalized revisions to federal financial assistance guidance. The revisions clarify and streamline the federal grants process with the goal of better supporting the communities these funds are meant to serve. See the National Council of Nonprofits’ initial analysis. Key provisions include:

  • Increasing the “de minimis” rate for indirect costs from 10% to 15%
  • Making Notice of Funding Opportunities more accessible by ensuring they are written in plain English, better highlighting eligibility requirements, and offering pre-award technical assistance
  • Eliminating the English language requirement for notices, applications, and reporting
  • Encouraging federal agencies to consult with the communities their grants aim to support

The updates come shortly after the launch of the Federal Program Inventory, a searchable tool of all federal financial assistance programs.

The Council commented on OMB’s draft guidance in December 2023 applauding the revisions and urging the Administration to go further.

Soon to come: IRS and Treasury Priority Guidance Plan

In March, Treasury and the IRS requested recommendations from the public for their 2024-2025 Priority Guidance Plan. This annual document details the Administration’s tax priorities for the coming year. The Council shares comments with Treasury and the IRS each year to ensure philanthropy’s priorities are heard. Past comments have included the following requests, among others:

  • Clarification of the definition of a donor-advised fund and taxable distributions to DAFs
  • Exemption from the definition of a DAF for certain scholarship funds and other funds for which donors have limited advisory privileges
  • Guidance that foundation-sponsored student loan forgiveness programs are qualifying charitable distributions
  • Designation of economic development as a charitable activity
  • Updates to the definition of tax-exemption to clarify that organizations that promote racial and ethnic discrimination and violence are not charitable

What are we missing? Let us know at govt@cof.org.

Federal Government Updates and Opportunities

Happening in the States

State Legislative Roundup 

While state budgets and social policies get most of the media attention, state legislatures have been digging deep into policy issues that directly affect the ability of charitable nonprofits to advance their missions or, in the case of voting, affect the ability of the people nonprofits serve to engage in democracy. Highlights include charitable giving incentives and sales and use taxes.

States Consider Donor Intent Legislation

Legislation being pushed in several states seeks to create (some say reiterate) the rights of donors to sue charitable nonprofits that donors or their heirs believe are not following the donor’s intent. Kansas enacted a law last year that provides legal recourse to an individual charitable donor when an endowment agreement is violated. Similar bills are pending in Georgia and Kentucky, and another recently failed in Vermont. In virtually all cases, the bills appear to be advanced by a national organization, although no examples of abuse, whether random or systematic, have been alleged. 

Keep in Touch!

Please feel free to reach out to any of us on the Government Relations Team with comments or concerns, or to share an issue, article, event, or op-ed you would like to see covered in a future Washington Snapshot.

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Shared purpose. Collective voice. Greater impact.

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