Last week’s election set the stage for some important political debates, including one about the future of giving in our country. Over the course of the next six weeks, federal lawmakers will set the terms for the tax debate in 2013. The Obama Administration favors limiting the charitable deduction by capping it at 28 percent, and we know for certain that multiple scenarios involving alterations to the deduction are on the table as the president and Congress consider options to generate revenue and address our national debt. At a time in our history when philanthropic investment in our nation, state and region of southwest Minnesota is needed more than ever before, it is imperative that lawmakers encourage and protect charitable giving.
For more than 26 years, Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) has worked in close partnership with local donors, organizations, businesses, and community leaders to address the opportunities and issues facing southwest Minnesotans every day. As a rural, regional community foundation, SWIF has contributed more than $58 million through its grant and loan programs. SWIF has helped more than 580 businesses start or expand through its business finance programs, which have created or retained more than 7,700 jobs. SWIF has also established 16 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions, 49 Youth Energy Summit teams, 24 local community foundations and more than 80 other funds. Look no further than these examples to see the consequences we face if donors’ ability to give is diminished.
This is Community Foundation Week, a national recognition of the vital role that America’s more than 700 community foundations play in job creation, community and economic development, education, economic growth and non-profit services. Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy. In 2011, they gave an estimated $4.2 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in areas such as the arts and education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief.
Because we live where we give, we are able to help donors invest in the issues that are most critical to our residents. When we make a grant or loan, it helps people you know, not individuals you are just hearing or reading about for the first time. And, SWIF’s 24 local community foundation partners play a major role in this impact.
Our resources come from people who want to give back to the community where they live—and, more importantly, that they love. We must ensure that charitable giving is protected and encouraged in the 113th Congress and that SWIF’s ability to invest where southwest Minnesota needs it most is allowed to continue. I encourage you to talk to your members of Congress and share with them why charitable giving is important to our rural communities.