On July 23rd, 2020, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to hold in committee a key bill important to nonprofits.

Due to the COVID-19 impact on the legislature’s ability to hold hearings, Senate committee chairs had to choose hundreds of bills that – although they had passed in the Assembly – would not be heard in the State Senate, and are effectively dead for this year.

The bill, AB 2936 authored by and fought for heroically by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (East Bay) and sponsored by CalNonprofits would have brought some transparency to donor-advised funds.

This bill called for two simple transparency aspects:

a) defining terms such as “donor-advised fund” (DAF) and  “donor-advised fund sponsor” in California law, and

b) affirming the authority of the Attorney General to ask for reports from DAF sponsors.

We at CalNonprofits want to salute the nearly 400 nonprofits – including several other statewide associations like California Association of Museums, California Association of Food Banks, United Ways of California, and Californians for the Arts – that supported the bill, along with the high-profile United Domestic Workers and the Women’s Foundation of California.

While the nonprofit community overwhelmingly supported this bill, the Wall Street donor-advised fund sponsors (Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab) and the League of California Community Foundations were in opposition, arguing that even modest reports would be too much administrative trouble for them and would deter donors.

There has been no evidence brought forward to show that reporting – which explicitly keeps donor names anonymous – would reduce giving.

We are not giving up on this effort. We deeply regret that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not have a chance to discuss this measure and vote on it. Nonprofits from the Senate districts of many Committee members asked for and held meetings with their Senators to advocate for the DAF transparency bill.

As the late great Congressman John Lewis urged, we must continue to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” We call on foundations and donors to take the path of standing with nonprofits and community activists as partners, collaborators, and system disruptors in the struggle against inequalities and disparities.

We at CalNonprofits are committed to causing good, necessary trouble. Stand with us. We are just getting started.

P.S. We are continuing to advocate for an important bill for nonprofits: AB 2208 which relates to online fundraising platforms such as PayPal, GoFundMe, Facebook, and others. CalNonprofits has been vocal in advocating for pre-donation fee disclosures, guidelines for using a nonprofit’s name, and other protections to help ensure that nonprofits receive full donations in a timely way and that donors are adequately informed by these fundraising platforms. This bill will likely be heard on either July 30 or August 12.

Stay tuned!

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