Concern about public policy proposals to regulate private giving prompted the establishment of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). Ongoing interest in the impact of public policy on the operations of nonprofits energized the founding of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA). The Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC) was created as the result of advocacy by nonprofits and foundations for a statewide – and national – champion to support volunteering. Some of the primary functions of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University are to provide unbiased data to support the development of sound public policy, program design and evaluation, and continuing professional education for practitioners on how to engage in advocacy. An emphasis for each of the Michigan nonprofit infrastructure support organizations is to assist in the development of public policy for the common good – without being influenced by partisan politics.
“Look at the model that we have in our state which is like no other state – and believe me, I've lived in other places – and that model is the ability to work with people outside of your group. Right? So, whatever that group may be. It's nonpartisan; it's apolitical; it's a-religious. It doesn’t matter. It's in the goal of insuring that all people have a good life. And that's really what people in the state of Michigan get together and say – ‘what can we do make it better?’” - Julie Fisher Cummings
Video: Watch leaders discuss the relationship between CMF and Public Policy.[videocluster tag="cmf-and-public-policy"] After deliberation, CMF developed a policy statement that reflected what the grantmaking community would like to have changed. Then CMF, through its members, worked on each of the public policy agenda items. Success wasn’t measured in individual congressional or legislative sessions, or even in presidential or gubernatorial terms. Success sometimes took many years, but CMF kept working on an agenda item until the identified policy was implemented.
Video: Watch leaders discuss the Tax Reform Act of 1969.[videocluster tag="tax-act"]
Historical Document: Read notes from a 1987 Council of Michigan Foundation’s board meeting for a background on the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit.
Video: Watch leaders discuss the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit.[videocluster tag="tax-credit"] Just recently, the state of Michigan eliminated the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit. Considering the benefits the tax credit had on increasing capacity for CMF’s community foundation members, CMF produced a report using research and statistics from the Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute to look at the effects of this change. Read the full 'Impact of Tax Policy on Charitable Giving' report at the CMF website.
Video: Watch leaders discuss the movement to give youth a voice in the public and nonprofit sectors.[videocluster tag="youth-vote"] The legislation continues to support an increasing number of young people serving on community foundation boards of trustees with a vote. The increase in numbers of young people (under age 18) serving on other nonprofit boards has not been tracked. The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) has advocated for legislation, as well. MNA partnered with the Council of Michigan Foundations in 2004 to form the Michigan Nonprofit Council for Charitable Trusts, which advises Michigan’s attorney general. This council acts as a communication liaison from the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to the attorney general, as well as assists in educating the general public about charities and charitable giving.
Video: Watch Rob Collier discuss the relationship between Michigan’s nonprofit sector and the Office of the Attorney General.[videocluster tag="attorney-general"] Again in 2009, MNA and CMF worked together alongside the Michigan Association of United Ways to create the Michigan Nonprofit Caucus. This caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral forum for lawmakers and nonprofit leaders to discuss legislative/regulatory challenges and opportunities for the sector, and was the second such caucus formed in the country.
Video: Watch Rob Collier discuss the Michigan Nonprofit Caucus.[videocluster tag="caucus"] In both of these cases, Michigan’s infrastructure organizations came together to not only engage with the public sector, but also to create a lasting framework for greater collaboration and communication going forward.
Video: Watch leaders discuss the relationship between MNA and Public Policy.[videocluster tag="mna-and-public-policy"]
Video: Watch leaders discuss the importance of open dialogue and non-partisan politics in the philanthropic sector.[videocluster tag="nonpartisan-politics"] One stunning quality (and a critical factor for success) of the internal discussions on public policy within the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) and the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) is the degree of civility and thoughtful deliberation that is demonstrated by each individual. Another critical factor for success in public policy advocacy is the degree of local organization of the members of these associations in reaching out to their public representatives at the local, state, and national levels. The focus of CMF and MNA on public policy strengthens the third sector itself by moving public policy education out of the realm of political partisanship. While the sector represents many different political perspectives, the United States citizenry’s commitment to private action for public good – in other words, philanthropy – continues to result in overall support that strengthens and supports the sector.