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News & Press: Institute News

February Message from the Chair

Thursday, February 18, 2016  


I hope your 2016 is off to a strong start. I’d like to begin my first message of the year by letting you know, going forward, I plan to send monthly messages to keep you up-to-date in between our face-to-face meetings. I will still contribute a message in this space, but with the understanding that we’re all busy and not always able to tune in or attend meetings, I hope a monthly message will keep you consistently informed.

Our next opportunity to meet face-to-face is March 3-4 at the Westin City Center in Washington, D.C. I always look forward to reconnecting with long-time friends and getting to know our newer members. Since we were together in Chicago last November, I’m happy to share that we’ve welcomed our 47th member, The Westfall Group, to The Giving Institute family. I hope to see those of you who have not been able to join us the past few meetings in D.C.

Our March Board Meeting agenda will have a healthy amount of items to consider. Our committees have been quite active since we last met. I’d like to share a few updates of the recent activity and note the pertinent items that will submitted for the Board’s consideration.

The Program and Education Committee has been planning this March Meeting, and the lineup looks like a winner. We have three thought-provoking educational sessions I think we’ll all enjoy. First, we’ll get a timely, behind-the-scenes briefing related to the human services-sector research highlights in the Giving USA Spotlight. It will feature the Growth in Giving data, which is scheduled for release in early to mid-March. Jon Biedermann of DonorPerfect will be joined by Nathan Dietz of the Urban Institute and Erik Daubert of ACFRE. In our second session, Jason Lee, General Counsel for AFP, as well as Geoff Plague of the Independent Sector and Steven Woolf of the Jewish Federations of North America, will focus on the potential effects that the 2016 election might have on non-profit advocacy. And finally, we’ll be introduced to Stand for Your Mission and learn about their collaborative initiative to create positive change through board advocacy. Thanks To Paul Koreen, Richard Tollefson, and the committee for their efforts.

The Summer Symposium Committee is busy planning for our event at The Silverado Resort in Napa, California, this July 7-9. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to spending time at this beautiful venue. I want to thank Karen Rotko-Wynn and Jon Biedermann for guiding the committee in their planning efforts.

As I noted above, the Membership Committee welcomed The Westfall Group, and they continue to pursue prospective members while communicating the value and benefits of membership in our terrific organization. If you know someone who is a candidate for membership, please share that information with our great committee chairs, Derek Alley and Jennifer Richard.

The Finance Committee has been researching and analyzing our dues payment policies with an eye toward ensuring the continuous fiscal stability of The Giving Institute. You can expect to hear their recommendation(s) during the Board meeting.

The Public Policy Committee has taken two swift actions. First, in December, the committee submitted comments to the IRS on behalf of all Giving Institute members regarding the IRS’ substantiation proposal that would have created an "optional" information return requiring nonprofits to collect tax ID numbers/social security numbers from donors. Many others in the philanthropic/nonprofit sectors also submitted concerns and comments on the proposed rule. The result? The IRS withdrew its proposal. This quick action by our committee led me to think that The Giving Institute would be wise to develop a policy which identifies the steps and approval process, from a governance procedural perspective, for taking action in this type of rapid response situation. Thus, the committee has developed proposed language for a policy which we will review and discuss in March. My thanks go to Wendy McGrady, Erin Shy, and Sally Ehrenfried for their work on this policy draft.

Last, but not at all least, the Strategic Planning Task Force have committed themselves to creating a plan for the Board to review at our March Meeting. I am proud to have participated with this task force the past few months. Over the course of at least five committee calls, and no doubt countless other calls and emails, the task force has recognized that The Giving Institute and the Foundation have made good progress in recent years. But this new plan needs to build upon that progress and chart a future course for more impact in the field and value to members. Our mission, to actively champion thought leadership that empowers philanthropy, has guided us in these discussions and I am looking forward to furthering the conversation with the entire Board. We will dedicate time on our Board agenda to review the recommendations from the task force and, I hope, approve the future direction for The Giving Institute. I want to thank Ted Grossnickle and Rachel Hutchisson for co-chairing this Task Force.

Again, thank you to everyone who is lending their time and expertise to ensure a very meaningful and productive March Meeting. This is a very important time in the growth and sustainability of The Giving Institute, and not only our membership, but the entire field of philanthropy will benefit from our efforts.

Jeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO, Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc.
Chair, The Giving Institute

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