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WASHINGTON – Today, more than 90 California charity leaders, donors and philanthropic leaders have announced their support of an Emergency Charity Stimulus and are urging the U.S. Congress to mandate an increase in the pay-out percentage required of foundations by law. The letter comes amid historic unemployment, increased billionaire wealth and public calls for the philanthropic sector to do more in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Foundations exist to move resources to advance the social good. That needs to be our primary focus and the driver of our efforts. I am impatient with the status quo in the philanthropy community, which places undue importance on sustaining assets versus investing deeply in social change,” said Ellen Friedman, Director, Compton Foundation.

In California, philanthropic leaders such as Ellen Friedman; Vini Bhansali, Solidaire Network; John Esterle, The Whitman Institute;  Aileen Getty, Aileen Getty Foundation; Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California; and Susan & Regan Pritzker, Libra Foundation are calling on Congressional leaders to introduce an Emergency Charity Stimulus by enacting the following measures: 1) Mandating a temporary doubling of private foundation payout from 5 percent to 10 percent for three years, and 2) Establishing a similar 10 percent payout for donor-advised funds (DAFs) that currently have no mandate.

“As millions of Americans lose their jobs, their savings, and their loved ones, many billionaires have actually profited,” said Scott Wallace, co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund. “Philanthropy – which is comprised of fortunes from some of the world’s richest families – has a mandate to serve the common good, especially in a time of unprecedented crisis. Legislation temporarily doubling the federally-mandated payout for foundations from 5% to 10% will inject $200 billion into nonprofit jobs and charitable work without costing taxpayers one cent.”

“Support is growing for an emergency mandate to move $200 billion from the sidelines to the frontlines without costing taxpayers a dime” said Chuck Collins, director of the Charity Reform Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Wealthy donors already took their tax breaks and now is the time for Congress to discourage the warehousing of $1.2 trillion in wealth in private foundations and donor-advised funds.”

A recent Ipsos poll found that 72 percent of Americans support an emergency charity stimulus.  Americans support private foundations, with endowments, but with more limits, requirements and funds granted.  93 percent of Americans found it unacceptable that donor-advised funds (DAFs) are under no obligation to disburse any funds to active charities.  A Summary Presentation is available HERE.  Full polling tabs are available to download HERE.

Prominent signers of the letter include:

Tanir Ami Berkeley CA
Alison Aragon San Diego CA Cellar Door Fund
Andy Bartholomew Los Angeles CA DAF
Vini Bhansali   CA Solidaire Network
Cedric Brown Oakland CA Kapor Center
Caitlin Brune Santa Cruz CA Private Foundation
Jessica Bylo Chacon Berkeley CA Bylo Chacon Foundation
Catherine Caples Fresno CA Donor
Jo Carr Imperial Beach CA
Irene Chansawang San Ramon CA
Devon Cohn Palo Alto CA
Susan Collum-Bradford Stockton CA DAF
Temra Costa Sebastopol CA Foundation Network
Annie Dade Berkeley CA National Philanthropic Trust
Kevin Dade San Mateo CA DAF
Alan Davis San Francisco CA The Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund
Jen Dawson Los Angeles CA Public charity
Holly Delany Cole Oakland CA Delany Sisters Fund
Darren Diess Temecula CA
Kristina Donohoue Oakland Ca
Ila Dubin Cameron Park CA
Karen Edwards Palo Alto CA DAF
Scott Ellis Cupertino CA DAF
John Esterle San Francisco CA The Whitman Institute
Christian Ettinger San Francisco CA Educational Foundation of America
Jodie Evans Venice CA ETINA
Mary Ford Berkeley CA DAF
Stu Fram Oakland CA DAF
Latanya Frett San Francisco CA Global Fund for Women
Glen Galaich San Francisco CA Stupski Foundation
Tara Gardner Los Angeles Ca
Tracy Gary Tiburon CA Kismet Fund ( DAF) of Triskeles Foundation
David Gast San Francisco CA DAF
Aileen Getty Los Angeles CA Aileen Getty Foundation
Bin Goh San Francisco CA DAF and Private Foundations
Jennifer Gottesfeld Los Angeles CA Foundation
Grace Ha San Francisco CA TSFF
Paul Haible San Francisco CA Peace Development Fund
Loren Harris Oakland CA
Laurika Harris-Kaye Oakland CA Candide Group
Connie Heller Berkeley CA Linked Fate Fund for Justice DAF
Jonathan Heller Berkeley CA DAF
Jennie Herriot-Hatfield San Francisco CA
Alexander Hughes-Smith San Francisco CA
Beth Jackson Los Angeles CA
Christine Jeffers Santa Clara CA DAF
Melanie Jimenez Oakland Ca Community Foundation
Surina Khan Oakland CA Women’s Foundation of California
Katherine King Santa Monica CA DAF
Michelle Kogan Sherman Oaks CA
Joanna Kong Irvine CA
Susie Lee San Francisco CA Private foundation and DAF
Catherine Lerza Kensington CA DAF
Sara Levine Oakland CA
Daniel Lewis Berkeley CA Gratitude Fund
James Liu San Francisco CA DAF
Jan Masaoka San Francisco CA DAF
Brigid McCormack San Francisco CA
Lindley Mease Oakland CA
alexis meisels San Francisco CA Metrowest JCF
Jessica Misslin San Francisco CA
Mariana Moore Richmond CA
Holly Myers Portola Valley CA Blue Oak Foundation
Trevor Neilson Los Angeles CA Climate emergency fund
Taylor Ovca Berkeley CA
Drummond Pike Mill Valley CA Tides Foundation DAF; Schwab DAF
Ernie Ponce San Jose CA
Regan Pritzker San Francisco CA Private Foundation and DAF
Susan Pritzker San Francisco CA Private Foundation and DAF
Dorine Real Westport CA DAF
Jennifer Risher San Francisco CA Fidelity
David Risher San Francisco CA DAF
Meital Rosenberg San Francisco CA Private foundation and DAF
Molly Seligman San Francisco CA Resource Generation member
Sarah Setiawan San Diego CA Collective Giving Group
Ruth Shaber San Francisco CA Tara Health Foundation
Spencer Sherman sebastopol CA Impact Assets
John M Sobrato Los Gatos CA Private foundation
A. Sparks San Francisco CA Masto Foundation (family foundation)
Peter Stern Mill Valley CA DAF
Meg Styles-Hilton Danville CA The Gretta Foundation
Sonja Swift San Francisco CA Swift Foundation
JT Taylor Oakland CA DAF
Jennifer Tomkins Tiburon CA Tomkins Family Foundation
Jade Way Oakland CA Catholic Charities
danielle west Oakland CA Advisor
Vanessa Whang Oakland CA The Whitman Institute
Jeff Witten Agoura Hills CA DAF
Bennet Yee Mountain View CA DAF
Jan Zaitlin Kensington CA Fidelity DAF


Researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies estimate these policies would unleash an estimated $200 billion in additional charity funds over three years. These funds would support vital social services at no cost to taxpayers.

The letter was organized by the Charity Reform Initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies, Patriotic Millionaires, and the Wallace Global Fund. It may be found with all the signatories here