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Democracy and Philanthropy in America Wednesday, April 6, 2022 7:00AM–6:00PM


Alfond Inn — 7:00-8:00pm

Welcome reception for all attendees


Registration Opens — 7:00-8:00am

Session One — 8:15am-9:15am

Philanthropy, Opportunity Cost, and the Education Reforms America Sorely Needs

  • U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, R-NE

Despite ballooning budgets and massive investments both public and private, American education systems are failing far too many young people. Join Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) as he describes the state of affairs in the education establishment, how it’s leaving younger generations—especially young men—behind, why donors should hold themselves to higher standards when it comes to higher-education investments, and how new—even rethought—models for in-person and asynchronous education, at both the secondary and college levels, are critical to America’s standing and future.

Session Two — 9:30am-10:15am

What is the Role of Private Philanthropy in a Free Society?

  • Heather Higgins, President and Director, Randolph Foundation
  • Jack Fowler, Director, Center for Civil Society

America is the most charitable nation on earth, and private giving shapes and benefits American civil society in numerous ways. But far from everything is, or has been, beneficial. In a conversation with Jack Fowler, Heather Higgins, the President and Director of the Randolph Foundation, will discuss the impact philanthropy has had on the American project, what isn’t being done right, how the philanthropic community needs to reassess its practices and mindset, and some of the current problems it must address, for America’s sake.

Session Three — 10:45am-11:30am

The Myth of the Independent Sector: A Brief History of Government Regulation of Charitable Giving

  • Les Lenkowsky, Professor Emeritus in Public Affairs and Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

Have you ever wondered about how regulation on philanthropy came to exist as it does today? This session will explore the history of key regulations on giving, including why charitable foundations and donor-advised funds were established, the origins of the charitable tax deduction, and key shifts in laws governing private giving. This background on regulation and philanthropy will help you understand how and why donors and foundations operate as they do and how proposed legislative changes may affect how they function.

Session Four — 12:15pm-1:15pm

Panel Discussion: Is Philanthropy Too Political?

  • Mike Hartmann (Moderator), Co-Editor, Giving Review
  • Scott Walter, President, Capital Research Center
  • Craig Kennedy, Former President, Joyce Foundation and German Marshall Fund
  • Teddy Schleifer, Founding Partner, Puck News

Many people believe philanthropy largely exists to serve the common good. When they think of philanthropy, they think of giving to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and civic associations that serve those in need. In recent years however, donors and philanthropic institutions have become more and more involved in driving causes and supporting organizations that frequently veer into the political realm. Is this the proper role of charity? Joined by Scott Walter (President, Capital Research Center) and Craig Kennedy (Former President, Joyce Foundation and German Marshall Fund), Mike Hartmann (Co-Editor, Giving Review) will moderate a lively panel discussion on this topic.

Session Five — 1:30pm-2:30pm

Can Policy Reforms Make Philanthropy Work Better for America?

  • Christie Herrera (Moderator), Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Philanthropy Roundtable
  • Heather Lauer, Executive Director, People United for Privacy
  • Peter Lipsett, DonorsTrust

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of calls for policy reform related to philanthropy. Should donor-advised funds have more stringent payout requirements? Should nonprofits have to disclose donor information? Should the charitable tax deduction be adjusted, or even removed entirely? How might proposed governance reforms in the corporate sector impact philanthropy? In this session moderated by Christie Herrera (Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Philanthropy Roundtable), our panelists will discuss current goings-on in philanthropy policy, the intent behind the reforms, and what’s at stake for the charitable sector. 

Session Six — 2:45pm-3:35pm

Panel Discussion: How to Give Wisely According to Your Values

  • Gabe Conger (Moderator), President, Bradley Impact Fund
  • David Bahnsen, The Bahnsen Group
  • Nathan Bond, Rifle Paper Company
  • Johann Huleatt, Outreach Director, Bruderhof

What steps are donors taking to define their charitable intent and what are they doing to ensure that intent is reflected in their giving both now and over time? Who are they turning to for advice and assistance in their giving? What obstacles have they faced in their giving? What brings them joy in their giving? In the conference’s closing session, Gabe Conger (Bradley Impact Fund President) will moderate a discussion with several donors who will share insights from their own experience about why and how to give in a way that reflects their values.

Closing Reception — 4:00-5:30 pm