Our Policy Positions

Our Policy Positions

We take a stand on issues that matter to our communities.

Philanthropy Northwest advocates on behalf of the region’s philanthropic sector and supports members to become effective advocates themselves. When we come together, we’re a powerful force for change. 

Using Our Collective Voice

Specifically, we see our role as:

  • Enabling foundations to be effective stewards of resources for the public good and the health and vitality of communities and citizens.
  • Promoting mutual understanding and collaborative action between philanthropy and government regarding our individual and shared roles in advancing the public good.
  • Supporting civic engagement that strengthens communities and sustains a thriving democracy.
  • Maintaining a tax and regulatory system that encourages equitable, responsible and effective philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
  • Encouraging charitable giving and volunteerism.

Policy Priorities

Philanthropy Northwest determines our policy priorities through the lens of supporting positions that: (1) promote a more prosperous, vibrant, healthy, diverse, inclusive and equitable region and/or (2) grow and sustain philanthropy and charitable giving across our region. We have official public policy positions on the following issues that are vitally important to our members. 

Equity and Justice 

  • The Census. We support a robust and accurate census count, and we actively called upon state and federal governments to fully fund the 2020 Census. We also encourage the philanthropic sector to assert an advocacy role in preparing Northwest communities for the census. Learn more about our census work.
  • Family Separation. We believe the family separation crisis at our border is an affront to the values of an equitable and just society, in which all people are treated with decency, respect, compassion and the fundamental right to due process. Learn more about our position.
  • Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We support policies that address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and call upon philanthropy and all levels of government to prioritize this issue. Read the report from Urban Indian Health Institute.


Charitable Sector

  • Charitable Giving. We support tax policy that encourages giving, through a charitable contribution deduction or through other means that sustain or enhance the amount that Americans give to charities. Read our letter in support of the IRA charitable rollover.
  • CHARITY Act. We support the Charities Helping Americans Regularly Throughout the Year (CHARITY) Act, which would make the private foundation excise tax a flat one percent rate and allow individual retirement account contributions to donor-advised funds. Read our statement of support and priorities.
  • Donor-Advised Funds. We favor regulation to increase transparency and payout of donor-advised funds, and we support increased education and research to help us deepen understanding of the complexities and considerations to inform our stance on specific proposals.
  • Excise Tax. We joined United Philanthropy Forum and 20 other philanthropy-serving organizations in a letter to congressional leaders in support of simplifying the private foundation excise tax to a revenue-neutral, flat rate of 1.39 percent.
  • Johnson Amendment. We support the Johnson Amendment, the law prohibiting 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities. Read our statement to lawmakers.

Our Process for Taking a Position or Action

Philanthropy Northwest has a public policy committee comprised of board members and other network members that meets quarterly to discuss policy issues and recommend advocacy actions for the full board’s consideration. Any Philanthropy Northwest member can raise a policy issue to the committee or to our policy staff. 

Depending on the issue, Philanthropy Northwest may decide on one or several advocacy actions:

  • Communications: To elevate an issue, we may issue statements on our website, send updates to members or write opinion pieces.
  • Public Comments: To assert our point of view, we may publish official position statements, sign on to joint statements with partner organizations or provide congressional testimony. 
  • Policy Events or Programming: To create learning opportunities, we can organize events for members or joint events with policymakers.
  • Lobbying: To lobby directly, we can write to or meet with elected officials about specific legislation.

Public Policy Committee Members

Mike Halligan, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation** Kaberi Banerjee Murthy, Meyer Memorial Trust
Meredith Benton, Natrona Collective Health Trust Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines
Shona Carter, Black Future Co-Op Fund Christine Calpin, Casey Family Programs
Kris Hermanns, Seattle Foundation Mauri Ingram, Whatcom Community Foundation
Michelle Kauhane, Hawai'i Community Foundation Liz Moore, Montana Nonprofit Association
Brian Tanner, Potlatch Fund Steve Williams, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority
Laurie Wolf, The Foraker Group **Committee Chair


Have a policy issue to be considered or want to get involved in advocacy?

Contact our policy team to learn about our policy positions or to share your interests in a particular issue.