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May 2011: Family Philanthropy Blog

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011

ABAG's monthly digest of news, information, and resources for family funders and the next generation. Contact Adam Donaldson,, for additional resources tailored to our families.

Family Philanthropy Advisory Committee

  • With deepest appreciation, ABAG has allowed Lynn Rauch, Kentfields Foundation, to rotate off as chair of the Family Philanthropy Advisory Committee. We are excited to announce that Timothy O'Neill, a member of the ABAG Board, will serve as the new chair. Tim is the Board Chair of the William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation. Click here to watch a great video history (12 mins.) of his family foundation.
  • The Family Philanthropy Advisory Committee meets annually and provides ongoing guidance to ABAG staff on programs and services specific for family funders and the next generation. Current members include Carol Cronin, Judy Family Foundation; Lynn Deering, Charlesmead Foundation; Sandi Gerstung, Hecht-Levi Foundation; Cristina Lopez, Philip and Beryl Sachs Family Foundation; Catherine P. McDonnell, Passano Foundation; Timothy O'Neill, William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation; Lynn Rauch, Kentfields Foundation; and Mary Baily Wieler, Wieler Family Foundation. If you are interested in learning more about the Committee or advising ABAG, please contact me at

Local News and Resources

  • Investing in Capacity Building- Rebecca Southers, The Ausherman Family Foundation blog post about the family foundation's commitment to investing in capacity building for nonprofits in Frederick County.

National News and Resources

Upcoming Program

Tags:  families  Family Philanthropy Blog  May2011MembersMemo  publications  resources 

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Creating a Triple Bottom Line for Projects in Baltimore

Posted By Kurt Somer, Monday, April 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy is a series of ongoing blog posts from ABAG's professional staff, each highlighting timely and relevant information useful to our grantmaking members and focused on the world of philanthropy. 

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Facilitating revitalization, creating jobs for local area residents, and financing a healthy project to improve area communities is the focus of the new Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP)

The BIP is new collaboration led by the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers between the City of Baltimore, the State of Maryland, philanthropic organizations, universities and colleges, nonprofit organizations and a regional community development financial institution (CDFI). 

To make this work possible, The BIP was awarded a grant of $2,770,000 (over three years), $12 million in commercial debt, and $3 million in Program-Related Investments by Living Cities to create new jobs and improve neighborhoods in Central and East Baltimore, while preparing residents for opportunities created by the planned East-West Red Line Transit Corridor. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of twenty two national Living Cities members. In addition to their support of the national Living Cities Integration Initiative, they have provided additional support at the local level to the BIP. Locally, they have been joined by other area foundations including Goldseker Foundation and Associated Black Charities as well as the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative.

After more than a year of proposal development and formulation, the BIP was launched in January of 2011. Led by the collaborative efforts of ABAG, stakeholders have been working to develop criteria to screen local development projects; develop workforce outreach systems in Central Baltimore connected toEast Baltimore Development and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development; and structure a workforce training fund to help local residents advance through career paths in jobs financed by the BIP and those available in the City and region. 

Building capacity to support the work of the BIP has been aided by the growing presence of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) which is the CDFI partner of the initiative. Based in Philadelphia, TRF is managing the financial transactions on behalf of the BIP and has expanded their Baltimore presence opening an office and hiring staff dedicated to work on the initiative.

The BIP is also looking to maximize the impact of area anchor institutions including Johns Hopkins, Maryland Institute College of Art, and the University of Baltimore. Work is just getting underway to identify if there are strategies in the areas of capital investment, procurement, and hiring that can provide a career path for low-income individuals and can strengthen neighborhoods.

Public policy and ultimately a "systems change” that works to create "a new normal” is the three year objective of the BIP. Through the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and Job Opportunities Task Force, public policy goals developed by the BIP can be moved toward implementation while other partners around the table can work to implement more local and process related changes to advance the BIP goals. 

It is the partners at the table that have made the first three months of the BIP successful and they will ultimately help define the success of the BIP for the residents and communities the initiative serves. More information about the BIP can be found at

We invite your thoughts as well, and encourage you to post a comment below!

Kurt can be reached at:

Kurt Sommer
Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Tags:  April2011MembersMemo  Baltimore City  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  community development  Living Cities  philanthropy  workforce development 

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Investing in Capacity Building

Posted By Rebecca Southers, Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The third Annual Nonprofit Summit just took place in Frederick and we invited Rebecca Southers, Grants Coordinator at The Ausherman Family Foundation to blog about the foundation's support of the Summit and commitment to investing incapacity building for nonprofits in Frederick County.

One of my first assignments as a staff member of the Ausherman Family Foundation was to help The Frederick Rescue Mission to improve their grant writing capacity, bringing more resources into Frederick County. When I asked the staff for their case statement I was informed that it didn't yet exist so I began with staff interviews, a preliminary case statement, and a presentation to the board of directors. This resulted in the hiring of a case manager who is now measuring program outcomes in a more comprehensive way than had ever been done previously.

This is also a classic example of how organizational capacity building works – one strand is pulled and the whole web changes shape.

The staff members and Trustees of the Ausherman Family Foundation are passionate about building a strong and vibrant nonprofit community in Frederick County, Maryland, and this passion has guided the foundation's work. The Ausherman Family Foundation's capacity building grant program provides funds for consultants to help organizations develop anything from a marketing plan to a program evaluation plan.

My role as Grants Coordinator at the foundation was created to strengthen our nonprofit community: As in the example above, I provide grantwriting technical assistance to selected grantees.

We have also, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Frederick County and HandsOn Frederick County, facilitated a Nonprofit Summit for the past three years.

The Nonprofit Summit is a one day training event that brings high quality, low cost professional development to Frederick County. The first Summit was held in March 2009 and it has grown each year. In March 2011, 167 nonprofit executives, board members, staff, and volunteers attended.

Our nonprofit community finds value in this local training event both for the learning opportunities and the opportunities to build partnerships. Sue Oehmig, Executive Director of Hope Alive, attended the Summit with several board members who walked away with new information and a plan of action. Sue wrote, "Our board members…plan to meet in the coming month to begin to implement a lot of changes on how the board meetings are run and to incorporate much more strategic thinking.”

Carol Goundry, a member of The Banner School's parent organization, got to experience the depth and diversity of our nonprofit community. She observed, "As a first time attendee, I found the sessions to be engaging, professional, and informative. It is great to know so many great nonprofit organizations exist in Frederick County.”

As I darted in and out of workshops on topics ranging from "Leading Through a Crisis” to "Nonprofit Storytelling” the thing I enjoyed the most was observing my community's leaders helping each other brainstorm solutions to a problem during a small group activity or reflecting on new ideas over lunch.

Place-based philanthropy and organizational capacity building complement each other well. As a local funder, we know our local leaders and believe in the power of our local nonprofits to address our community's problems. We can also take the time to build relationships with those local leaders and nonprofits in order to help them improve their service to the community.

The Ausherman Family Foundation will continue to invest in capacity building programs like the Nonprofit Summit in order to "provide support for institutional initiatives and transformational ideas.”

I invite your thoughts below about investing in capacity building!

Tags:  And Now A Word from Our Members  April2011MembersMemo  Ausherman  Capacity Building 

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April 2011: Family Philanthropy Blog

Posted By AdamDonaldson, Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011

ABAG’s monthly digest of news, information, and resources for family funders and the next generation. Contact Adam Donaldson,, for additional resources tailored to our families.

The Family Philanthropy Roundtable
This roundtable provides an opportunity for family foundation trustees and board members to talk with each other about the joys and challenges of family philanthropy and share expertise, experiences, questions, and concerns with others in similar situations. No one pretends to have the one right answer, but there is always thoughtful discussion. Informal roundtable luncheons are held 3-4 times each year.

Family Philanthropy Roundtable Recap

On March 23, family funders heard from Phil Rauch and Cathy Brill of The Rauch Foundation and Betsy Krieger of the Fund for Change, describing their experience convening people and making grants aimed at changing public policy. Each highlighted the potential to leverage public funding 1000s times greater than initial grant investments and to attack root causes of problems. Cautions included that it takes long involvement in an issue to see change; it is difficult to measure success; and it requires a lot of personal time to learn about policy issues.

To mitigate this latter challenge and stay informed, you can rely on your colleagues through ABAG affinity groups, as well as meet with your grantees. When considering a grant to an advocacy organization consider their media record and access to government decision makers, but also their ability to bring champions together.

You may also help by funding a research or position paper that can be used as evidence to persuade law makers. Some family funders focus on bringing law makers or government staff together for a briefing on the issue or a planning summit.

For more information on the advocacy grantmaking and the rules around advocacy and lobbying for foundations, please visit the Tools For Members Public Policy Section on the website.Among other resources you will find:

Local News and Resources

National News and Resources

Upcoming Program

Tags:  April2011MembersMemo  Family Philanthropy Blog  Next Generation 

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Ten Years Later, The Baltmore Women's Giving Circle is Thriving

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It’s Women’s History Month and ABAG invited Ellen Bernard to blog about her involvement in women’s philanthropy in "And Now, A Word From Our Members.”

Ellen, of the Bernard Family Fund,is a member of ABAG’s Member Services Committee, and, as the co-Chair of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, has a broad view of the power and impact of women’s philanthropy in Baltimore.

March is women’s history month, and I couldn’t help but think of "Jane Addams, Spirit in Action” a wonderful biography by Louise W. Knight. The first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Addams was an advocate for human rights and worked for the oppressed in American cities, regardless of race, gender or religion. This new look at Addam’s life, one of my favorite reads of last year, focused on her collaborative work, especially with other women.

That collaborative theme, of learning, giving, and working together has been the core of my experience with the Baltimore Women's Giving Circle, a fund of The Baltimore Community Foundation.

The BWGC is one of several Giving Circles in our area, many of which grew out of the Women's Philanthropy outreach effort through the Baltimore Giving Project, headed by ABAG's Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz. Started in the living rooms of Pam Corckran and Shelley Goldseker, the BWGC now has 330 members, who pool individual donations of $1000 each year.

Over the past nine years, almost $2 million has been directed to 107 organizations, in grants ranging up to $20,000 for programs working with underserved women and their families in the greater Baltimore area.

The $1,000 yearly contribution was not chosen lightly. Large enough for donors to want to grant wisely, education programs were created to help members learn about issues affecting the women and families we serve. Evaluation programs were established to review grants, opportunities were created for grantees to meet and discuss common concerns, and a visioning committee now captures the creative ideas of members for new initiatives.

The opportunities this creates are significant. With over 150 women actively engaged in the running of the Circle, and over 90 participating on this year's grant teams alone, hundreds of women in the Baltimore area have been exposed to the rigors of good grantmaking and many of the remarkable organizations working in our region. They have become advocates, mentors, and board members. Working with BCF and ABAG, they've learned the importance of partnerships . Community and cultural divides have been crossed, creating new dialogues and the desire for new voices to be heard.

As we celebrate our first 10 years, we look forward to new opportunities for grantmaking, and we welcome your suggestions for our future and the possibilities of working together.

I invite and encourage your thoughts below.

Ellen can be reached at:

Tags:  community foundations  giving circles  philanthropy  women 

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ABAG Members Provide Giving Snapshot

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, March 10, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy is a series of ongoing blog posts from ABAG's professional staff, each highlighting timely and relevant information useful to our grantmaking members and focused on the world of philanthropy. 

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director

ABAG members recently participated in a short giving survey with the goal of discerning past and future trends, noting any changes in assets, grant budgets, mission and/or operations.

Over 50% of the ABAG membership responded, which helps all of us better tell our collective story – to boards, nonprofit partners, policymakers, the media, and the broader public. This is a brief overview of the responses. We thank ABAG members for completing this survey!

2011 ABAG Member Giving Survey Overview

Forty-seven percent of members who responded said the volume of requests that their organization received in 2010 increased or increased dramatically.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the volume stayed about the same, while 11% said the volume has actually decreased.

Of those who experienced an increase in requests, sixty-eight percent saw an increase in the area of Human Services.

Forty-seven percent saw more requests for Education, 47% for Health/Mental Health/Substance Abuse, 31% for Arts, 26% for Community Development and 16% for Environment/Sustainability. Two-percent saw an increase in requests for Public/Society Benefit.

There was no clear pattern regarding when respondent’s assets were last at a similar level to  2010.

A small majority of members said 2010 assets were at a similar level in 2009, 2008 and 2007, while the answers were spread across the decade.

Forty-three percent of respondents are projecting no change in their 2011 grants budget, compared to 2010. 

When asked about any changes in 2011 grants budgets 37% of respondents said they will be giving more, while 17% will be giving less. Several members were not yet sure.

Approximately half of respondents said they did not review their giving practices because of the recession.

Members who did review giving decided to:

  • Fund fewer issues, fund deeper in these areas.
  • Give more grants to human services.
  • Limit multi-year pledges.
  • Give more general operating support / give more program support.
  • Limit geographic funding areas.
  • Not fund unsolicited requests.
  • Give more targeted, focused grants.

Members shared thoughts on challenges and opportunities in 2011, including:


  • Requests are far outweighing the grants budget.
  • Unable to support the wide range of nonprofits that received funding in the past.
  • Change in public dollars is also changing partnerships.
  • Measuring outcomes.


  • More collaboration among funders to leverage all types of funding.
  • Using this time for strategic planning, reviewing focus areas.
  • Change in funding focus provides an opportunity to fund new things.
  • Expanding the role of trustees to become more active and participatory, including engaging the next generation.

Responses were given by a representative group from ABAG and mirror the composition of the ABAG membership.

We again thank those of you who participated in this survey - we are working hard to tell your stories!

We invite your thoughts as well, and encourage you to post a comment below!

Buffy can be reached at:

Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz
Communications Director
410.727.0719 ext. 1203

Tags:  2011 Member Giving Survey  ABAG members  Eye on Philanthropy  grantmaking statistics 

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Thinking About Responsive Grantmaking in Black Communities

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy is a series of ongoing blog posts from ABAG's professional staff, each highlighting timely and relevant information useful to our grantmaking members and focused on the world of philanthropy. 

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG's Special Initiatives Director

February is Black History Month, but in philanthropy many consider all year how to be responsive to Black communities. 

As the country remembers the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the achievements of other prominent African Americans, 40 percent of Black children are born poor.  In the fourth grade, 85 percent of Black children cannot read or do math at grade level and later almost half drop out of school. A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime1.  

ABAG members and staff recently joined in a conversation with Susan Taylor Batten, President and CEO of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE).  Susan has been talking with philanthropists around the country about ABFE’s framework for Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities.  She listens to what concerns grantmakers and what conditions they are working to improve.  And she has been hearing themes: high unemployment among African Americans, children living in poverty, a failing public education system, and inequities in the criminal justice system.  So when a new report by the Children's Defense Fund came out last month, she was surprised, yet vindicated that it reinforced that these are concerns of Blacks across the nation.  

The report, The State of Black Children and Families, shows the vast majority of America’s Black community, seven in 10 adults, view these as tough or very bad times for Black children and many see poor Black youth falling further behind. 

Susan outlined ABFE’s framework for grantmakers to support Black communities: 
  1. Constituency engagement – philanthropy involves people who are most impacted by the issue
  2. Policy change, system reform and program delivery – philanthropy focuses on influencing the root causes of disparities and the inter-connectedness of systems and programs 
  3. Leadership and infrastructure in Black communities –philanthropy supports new and existing leadership and core institutions
  4. Research & data – philanthropy is built on disaggregated data and evaluation activities
  5. Communications – philanthropy minimizes the dominance of negative images in Black communities 
As a leader of the Baltimore-Washington Racial Diversity Collaborative, a coalition of organizations and leaders working to increase diversity and inclusiveness in the nonprofit sector, ABAG believes in the importance of leaders whose racial and ethnic backgrounds reflect the community served. Our Diversity and Inclusiveness Task Force meets regularly to instill ABAG's values of inclusiveness and respect in our daily work.  We are embarking now on an exploration of racial equity.  

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others promoted the vision of the "beloved community” where all of our destinies are integrally interwoven – that all boats rise on the tide of prosperity, equality and justice. That aspiration compels us to look at our organizations and our grantmaking as a part of a larger whole; and ask what we are doing to focus on the Black community in our grantmaking.  Only as the Black community is strengthened, can our whole community, and the nation, gain tangible social and economic benefits.

Susan's slides as well as other resources can be found on the Diversity and Inclusiveness Task Force group page in our online member community.  You are welcome to join the Task Force or the online group.  Click here for more information.  

We invite your thoughts as well, and encourage you to post a comment below!

Elisabeth can be reached at:

Elisabeth Hyleck
Special Initiatives Director
410.727.1205 ext. 1211

Tags:  ABFE  black children  communities  diversity  Eye on Philanthropy  families  foundations  grantmakers  history  support 

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We Must Engage in Public Policy

Posted By Kim Snipes, Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Given ‘tis the legislative season, ABAG invited Mary Louise Preis to be our first ABAG member to blog in the new Members’ Memo feature "And Now, A Word From Our Members.”

Mary Louise, of theFrederick G. & Mary Louise Preis Charitable Gift Fund,chairs the ABAG Public Policy Task Force, and as a funder and former elected Member of the House of Delegates, she has a unique view on government relations and public policy.

Sometimes when we hear "public policy” our eyes glaze because the issues seem far removed, too complex, too vague, or too risky. The problem is however that there are consequences for not engaging.

All around us we witness the effects of the economy on government budgets and the under-funding of nonprofits that deliver critical public services. Philanthropy does not have the treasure to meet government’s expectations and fill the gap. Now the President’s 2012 budget proposal released February 14 includes two measures directly affecting philanthropy as a sector.

First, the budget would limit the rate at which high-income taxpayers may claim itemized deductions to a maximum of 28 percent, regardless of their marginal tax rate. Second, the budget would create a single, 1.35 percent excise-tax rate on investment income of private foundations, replacing the current two-tiered excise rate structure (click here for more details). Government will continue to reexamine philanthropy as a revenue source.

While many funders are worrying about specific issue-based policies, there does not appear to be a shared vision for the role of philanthropy and government. How much partnership or independence should be sought? Should we support needs that up to now have been the objects of public, taxpayer support? Advocates and lobbyists for most big organizations, even big non profits, have become pretty good at influencing policy. But before they can be effective, they must know what they need or want to accomplish. Philanthropy must get started thinking about what it wants and what it thinks is workable, if it is to be drawn more into partnerships to help meet society’s needs.

Usually we are told that those with the gold make the rules. But, maybe not. And likely not, if those with the gold don’t know what rules they prefer.

So I ask all of you, my ABAG colleagues, what messages should ABAG carry to legislators when participating in Foundations On the Hill in March? What issues would you like leadership on from the ABAG Public Policy Task Force?

I invite and encourage your thoughts below.

Mary Louise can be reached at:

Tags:  And Now A Word from Our Members  budget  engagement  legislative  President Obama  public policy  taskforce 

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In 2011 Build Awareness of Your Good Work

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy is a series of ongoing blog posts from ABAG's professional staff, each highlighting timely and relevant information useful to our grantmaking members and focused on the world of philanthropy. 

By Adam Donaldson, ABAG's Member Services Director

I used to mark anonymous on the pledge form with a charitable gift to my high school so I would not be listed in the alumni bulletin. Anonymity seemed to infuse the donation with sincerity; plus my mom always warned me that I would start to be solicited by the American Heart Association and then my name sold to the American Deputy Sheriffs' Association who would call during dinner. She was right. Moms always are.

But now I have caller ID, and what Mom later acknowledged is that my gift motivated her to give as well. Now I tell anyone who will listen what charities I support and why I care about their work. On an individual scale, each name listing and conversation ignites interest in my causes and inspires more giving.

On the scale of institutional philanthropy, the same lesson leverages investment in the work of ABAG members and aligns partners to maximize community impact. I am convinced that grantmakers should share stories of their generosity and grantmaking strategies. Stories can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more philanthropy.

ABAG has always worked with members to promote their good work. We channel these stories through news media and our own:

• "Adventures in Philanthropy” column in The Daily Record, and Blog
Philanthropy News Online newsletter to the community
Facebook and Twitter

Now, as Congress and our own Maryland General Assembly return to the trenches to wrestle with record deficits (MD $1.6 billion) and the national debt (now $14 trillion), there is arguably greater need to promote understanding of philanthropy and showcase the work of local grantmakers. Legislators are hunting money and anxiety permeates the nonprofit and foundation community. Organizations are not only fearful of public funding cuts to their programs, but also of attempts to tax tax-exempt organizations and to reduce charitable giving incentives.

A proposal last year to tax hospital and university "beds” in Baltimore is one example of many new taxes and fees proposed across the country. You can find a list being monitored by The National Council on Nonprofits on their website here.

Potentially a more significant change, the Obama Administration announced intentions to overhaul the national tax code – including eliminating or reducing charity incentives. Many economists and thought leaders have long debated the efficacy of the tax deduction for charitable giving. In the New York Times article, "It’s Time to Rethink the Charity Deduction,” Richard Thaler explains some of the nuts and bolts behind the debate. The President has twice targeted the charity deduction already in his federal budget proposal, seeking to limit the value of charity deductions for households earning more than $250,000, which Indiana University estimates would reduce nonprofit funding by $4 billion.

In March, ABAG will seek to inform and educate Congress about philanthropy as participants inFoundations on the Hill. Several times a year we reach out to federal, state, and local government offices to build understanding of the sector and lay the connections for partnerships with our members. In the past year, ABAG has also emphasized "Conversations with” public leaders to introduce decision makers to the grantmaking community.

Research conducted by the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative found that only one in ten influential Americans can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about. It is vital to educate legislators about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

ABAG will continue to monitor legislation affecting philanthropy and nonprofit organizations and inform members on a timely basis, and we will strengthen our efforts to inform the public about these issues – as you can see in our latest "Adventures in Philanthropy”. I hope one of your New Year’s resolutions will be to step away from anonymity and help build awareness of your good work - and we are here to assist you in your efforts.

Question:  What role do you think ABAG should play in response to the current threats to nonprofit funding?  We invite your input below!

Adam can be contacted with questions at:

Adam Donaldson
Member Services Director
410.727.1205 ext. 1206

Tags:  advocacy  congress  Eye on Philanthropy  incentives  legislative  lobbying  public policy  stories  tax 

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