In re: philanthropy rules, pay attention to the states

I'm up past my eyeballs working on the Blueprint 2013. In it I write about the critical role that state governments will play next year in providing incentives to, tracking, and regulating nonprofits and foundations. The last few days have carried these stories:

1) The New York Attorney General will post data online about nonprofits' fundraising and spending in response to the October storm.

2) State tax credits are a boon to donors. This is true in some places, but in others, like Michigan, the end-of-year giving numbers will reveal what happens when states end tax credits for giving.

3) Cases in California, Idaho and Montana went down to the election day-wire demanding donor disclosure from nonprofits deemed to be active in politics. This issue will continue at the state level even as the national attention fades (until the 2014 midterm elections). New York passed a temporary rule requiring greater disclosure.

So while media attention focuses us all on the "fiscal cliff" and nonprofit advocacy coalitions bare their teeth over potential changes to the charitable tax deduction rules, pay attention to the 50 states - that's where I think the policy action will be next year.

This is one reason I am so (super wonk) excited to be participating in a February conference of Charity Regulators hosted by Columbia Law School.

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