Get to Know the SDG Public Policy Committee

Our legislatures are known to move slowly, but they can also move at lightning speed without much warning. The SDG Public Policy Committee (PPC) keeps pace with the ebbs and flows. Made up of representatives of ten SDG member organizations and led by co-chairs Ian Gordon and Dominique Navarro, dedicates significant time throughout the year to work with SDG staff on identifying policy issues at a federal, state, and local level that they feel need the input and advocacy of the philanthropic community, and then taking action on those issues.

“Beyond my genuine enjoyment of the conversations with colleagues passionate about policy, the PPC gives SDG members the opportunity to keep up-to-date on policies that affect the philanthropic sector and social safety net and allows us to leverage our credibility in the community to create systems change that elevates the impact of philanthropy and work of the nonprofits in the field,” Ian Gordon, SVP and Chief Impact Officer of United Way of San Diego County and SDG Public Policy Committee Co-chair said.

Whether it comes at the request of national partners like Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) or the United Philanthropy Forum (UPF), as part of SDG’s statewide work with Philanthropy California, or suggestions from our members, the PPC weighs the policy issue, determines the best way to get involved, and provides critical input and feedback as the work goes forward. The PPC weighs all decisions against the Policy and Advocacy Priorities they revisit and agree on each year, including:

  • Supporting policies that encourage charitable giving and strengthen philanthropy as a vehicle for impact, such as the inclusion of a universal charitable deduction in the tax code;
  • Opposing efforts to eliminate protections for 501(c)(3) organizations (such as the Johnson amendment); and
  • Supporting policies and initiatives that address humanitarian issues, such as equity gaps and systemic opportunity biases, that will advance the rights of the current and historically marginalized residents of the San Diego and Cali-Baja region.

While the PPC meets in-person quarterly to strategize, they also occasionally add a meeting for special projects and the co-chairs make room in their schedules to make quick decisions on those issues that need almost instant approval to be able to submit letters or comments in time for deadlines. This year alone, the PPC has:

  • Recommended signing on to letters supporting the social safety net on a local and federal level
  • Submitted federal comments to ensure that Main Street Lending programs opened up to more nonprofits
  • Advocated against cutting the Census timing short
  • Advocated for providing local funding for childcare due to the COVID crisis
  • Weighed in on more than a dozen different issues related to federal COVID-19 stimulus bills

This year, for the first time, the PPC indicated an interest in taking a position on a ballot measure and went through a dedicated education process to hear from both sides of the Proposition 15 campaign, which is now with the SDG board for vote.

The state legislative year is drawing to a close and while the PPC has had a brief respite from the flood of legislative activity during recent state and federal recesses, it expects to be just as involved in ensuring the voice of philanthropy is heard in the next round of federal COVID-19 stimulus bills, advocating for equitable access to voting in the election, protecting the census in its final months, and ensuring an equitable redistricting process.

Are you interested in hearing more about what the committee is doing? Want to take a leadership role in shaping policy recommendations that impact philanthropy in our region? If so, email SDG Public Policy Consultant Rhiannon McAfee at [email protected] and she’ll keep you updated as the committee completes the legislative year and opens committee applications for 2021.