Support for the floundering anti-charity legislation has veered sharply away from its bipartisan origins. With the loss of former New York Republican Tom Reed as a sponsor in the House, and the addition of far-left Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as a cosponsor in the Senate, momentum continues to dim for the so-called Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act.
Of course, there is a bipartisan consensus against the bill. This spring, a bipartisan group of 12 members of the House Ways and Means Committee spoke out with concerns in a Dear Colleague letter, for example. The lack of support for the legislation restricting donor-advised funds (DAFs) and private foundations is validated again by the most recent data on the growing share of contributions from generous Americans using these vehicles. The 2022 Giving USA report found that among the four largest DAF sponsors alone, grants out of DAFs to charities rose by 50.3% from 2020 to 2021 – sending over $22 billion out to those serving the most vulnerable in our communities.
The legislation would dampen this giving and make it harder for donors to give non-cash assets, which according to the Giving USA report, represented about two-thirds of contributions to DAFs in 2021 with Schwab Charitable Fund and Fidelity Charitable, for example.
These data don’t seem to matter to those fundamentally opposed to philanthropic freedom. A recent report out of the Institute for Policy Studies argues for a slate of changes that would cripple the charitable sector. Their unfounded calls for increased foundation payout are rebuffed by Philanthropy Roundtable’s Joanne Florino here. And the National Taxpayer’s Union sheds light in a thoughtful rebuttal piece here on how damaging other changes would be for DAF donors and those who choose to give privately.
The role of civil society in helping to support a wide range of diverse causes and the most vulnerable in our communities is more important than ever. Fortunately, if the lackluster support for the so-called ACE Act is any indication, there is no groundswell of support for restricting philanthropic freedom.