Support for the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act

Posted on June 25, 2020 In Blog, Charities, COVID19

In Case You Missed It…


 On Monday, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act to expand the current above-the-line deduction for charitable giving made available by the CARES Act in March. The bill would ensure that Americans who donate to charities, houses of worship, religious organizations, and other nonprofits are able to deduct that donation from their federal taxes at a higher level than the current $300 deduction. Lankford was joined by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Yesterday, Lankford and Coons joined Christian Broadcast Network to discuss their bipartisan work on the bill.


Here is what supporters are saying


United Way Worldwide:

“We are grateful that this bipartisan group of Senators stepped forward as champions for the charitable sector at a time when it was needed most.  The economic crisis, driven by the COVID-19 crisis, means donations are dropping right at a time when charities are needed most.  S.4032 will relieve virtually all taxpayers from taxes on their donations, spurring higher donations and new donors at a critical juncture,” said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “We are now asking other Senators to join as cosponsors of this important legislation and we urge Congress to include S.4032 in the next COVID-19 legislative package so that the nonprofit community can maintain the increasing level of service that communities across the country are seeking. The COVID-19 crisis will require the sustained attention and support of government, nonprofits and business in order to be defeated and for our society to come out stronger on the other side. We’re in this together, both in the immediate relief effort and for our long-term health and well-being.”


The Faith & Giving Coalition:

“The Faith & Giving Coalition promotes charitable giving for Americans of all faiths, and we are deeply grateful for your introduction of the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act (UGPRA). We strongly support bipartisan legislation to extend the benefit and incentive of the charitable deduction to all taxpayers, regardless of their income level. By expanding the charitable deduction for non-itemizers, your bill would increase the fairness of the tax code and help ensure that Americans remain the most generous people on earth. 


At all times—but especially in time of crisis—Americans of faith give generously to provide physical, emotional/relational, and spiritual care for needy and hurting individuals in every community. In fact, people of faith are among the most generous givers in America. This means they stretch to give as much as they can. 


By substantially reducing taxes on charitable donations, the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act would enable Americans of all faiths to give more to provide care and relief during our nation’s crises and recovery, said Brian Walsh, Executive Director.”


Alliance for Charitable Reform:

“We welcome the introduction of this bill to drive more resources to charities and encourage more Americans to give as our communities face mounting challenges,” said Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform. The share of American taxpayers giving to charity has been steadily declining for nearly two decades, and the leadership of this group of senators signals that all Americans should be equally encouraged to participate in civil society.”


YMCA for the USA:

“YMCAs and other nonprofit organizations are truly the backbone of our communities, and charitable donations enable us to serve more of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Kevin Washington, YMCA of the USA President and CEO. “A universal charitable deduction will encourage more Americans to make charitable donations and will extend the benefits of giving to all donors. The need for legislation encouraging donations is especially urgent in this moment, as we know that economic downturns result in decreased giving. YMCAs are working to address growing needs in our communities, and a universal charitable deduction will help ensure that nonprofits will be there for those who rely on us, through this crisis and as communities reopen and recover.”


Alliance for Strong Families and Communities:

“We can all agree that the American spirit to give in support of our neighbors and communities should be easily accessible to all Americans, not just the wealthy,” noted Susan N. Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Children. “That is why a universal tax deduction is so important.  It will level the playing field for all taxpayers and make it easier for all Americans to give in support of community-based human services organizations and our places of worship. The Universal Charitable Giving Act sends a vital message that charitable giving is a key American value and that our country’s public policy is aligned with that value.”


Ducks Unlimited:

“As we enter into an era where the work of charitable organizations will become increasingly important to our communities, every penny counts toward helping us secure our footing and fulfill our mission,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “The Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act will help incentivize more Americans to give what they can and encourage them to express the values that they hold to be important. We thank Senators Lankford, Coons, Klobuchar, Lee, Scott and Shaheen for crossing the partisan divide in order to prioritize this vital legislation for the future of nonprofits.”


American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:

“Increasing the charitable deduction is an effective way to support nonprofit organizations that are serving millions of people, including cancer patients. The American Cancer Society, like countless other nonprofit organizations, has seen donations drop precipitously as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact, while the need for health services increases.  Expanding the charitable deduction for those who do not itemize their taxes, incentivizes giving and supports the health and well-being of communities.” Gary Reedy, CEO, American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)


Catholic Charities USA:

“Incentivizing people to make charitable donations not only has a profound impact on our ability to help families in need but also on those who give,” said Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). “The spread of COVID-19 in this country and the resulting increase in unemployment and food insecurity has increased the demand for Catholic Charities’ services. Expanding the charitable tax deduction will reinvigorate our nation’s generosity for responding to community needs. It fosters the culture of generosity that our country was built on.” 


Girls Inc.:

Girls Inc. calls on Congress to pass the Universal Charitable Giving Act, which will encourage more Americans to donate to support the organizations and causes they believe in. As we experience unprecedented need across the country, now is the time to promote charitable giving and, in so doing, support the nonprofits serving the communities that need us most. -Stephanie J. Hull, Ph.D., Girls Inc. president and CEO


Habitat for Humanity International:

“Americans are generous and want to support the vital work that nonprofit organizations do in communities across the country and around the world,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “We also all love a discount, knowing that our dollar is going as far is it can. The universal charitable deduction creates a discount on giving, and shares that benefit much more equitably across society. Recent declines in the number of households that donate to charity are troubling, not just for the nonprofits that depend on this generosity, but from a democratic and philosophical perspective as well. The universal charitable deduction can help reverse this trend. Habitat for Humanity International urges passage of this bill and applauds its sponsors.”


Goodwill Industries International:

“Goodwill Industries International calls on Congress to pass the Universal Charitable Giving Act to build upon the universal charitable deduction provided in the CARES Act,” said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “At a critical time when the nonprofit sector continues to see an increasing demand for programs while funds are being reduced, donors are vital to our ability to provide impactful employment services that will change individuals’ lives and strengthen families and communities. Congress should do everything in its power to incentivize giving.”


Independent Sector:

“We know that every donation and every donor matter for nonprofits across the country working to advance their missions and help rebuild their communities in light of a global pandemic and economic crisis,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “We urge the passing of Universal Charitable Giving Act to create a fairer system that helps all Americans, regardless of income, give back to their communities.”


Jewish Federations of North America:

“We applaud the introduction of this bipartisan legislation which aims to greatly expand the above-the-line or universal charitable deduction. Charitable donations are the lifeblood of many charities that have experienced an increased demand for their services during this pandemic. This legislation will incentivize many Americans to support these efforts and help the most vulnerable communities.


Lutheran Services in America:

“Lutheran Services in America commends Senators Lankford, Coons, Lee, Shaheen, Scott, and Klobuchar for introducing the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act to expand the universal charitable deduction provided in the CARES Act earlier this year,” said Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America.  “In addition to authorizing direct funding for health and human services nonprofit providers on the frontlines of this pandemic, we urge Congress to pass this bill in order to further incentivize private charitable giving during this critical time of increasing demand for the vital programs provided by nonprofits like those in our 300-member network nationwide.”


National Council of Nonprofits:

“This bipartisan proposal to improve the Universal Charitable Deduction could not come at a more important time. Data released in the last couple weeks show that individual donations declined by 6 percent in the first quarter of this year – before the worst of the pandemic hit our nation. And in the last three months, the nonprofit community has shed an estimated 1.6 million jobs, 13 percent of the nation’s third-largest industry. Nonprofits, particularly those that rely on the individual donations from people who do not itemize on their taxes, need every tool possible to be able to continue their work right now. We applaud Senators Coons, Klobuchar, Lankford, Lee, Scott, and Shaheen for crossing the partisan divide in support of the Universal Charitable Deduction so all of our communities can thrive.” – Tim Delaney, President and CEO


Association of Art Museum Directors:

“Art museums have been hit hard by COVID-19, both by the decline in revenue from charitable gifts and earned revenue, and by a vastly increased demand on their educational services,” said Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors. “We are grateful to Sens. Coons, Klobuchar, Lankford, Lee, Scott, and Shaheen for introducing this bipartisan legislation to incentivize greater charitable giving, and we call on Congress to enact it without delay.”


Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union):
“In the American Jewish community, our synagogues, schools and social welfare charities have been hit hard by the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis,” said Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. “Charitable contributions enable our institutions to not only exist—but to fulfill their mission of serving our communities and, especially, those in need. Sadly, charitable contributions have declined sharply. The Orthodox Union is grateful to Senator Lankford and his colleagues for introducing this legislation to provide a critically needed boost to charities in the Jewish community and American society at large.”



“Whether it’s a food bank, a domestic violence shelter, or a daycare center, charities play an essential role in holding communities together, and serve as a place of last resort for our neediest and most vulnerable neighbors,” stated Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO, YWCA USA. “Right now, the demand for our services is soaring while our fundraisers are cancelled and finances uncertain. Nonprofits are an essential partner in helping businesses and government respond to the impact of this pandemic, and we will play a key role in helping communities rebuild and recover. In this time of great need, any incentive that gives people the opportunity to give back to the organizations and causes that strengthen their communities is not only welcomed but is essential. We urge Congress to pass the Universal Charitable Giving Act and allow generous and willing individuals to give to the causes they’re passionate about.”


Council for Advancement and Support of Education:

CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham issued the following statement on the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act (S. 4032): “We are grateful that the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act has been introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) This will encourage additional giving at our member institutions during a time when the work they do has never been more vital. These charitable donations, which support research, student scholarships, faculty positions, facilities and other academic programs and initiatives, help educational institutions provide transformational learning opportunities for their communities. We also acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable generosity and vision demonstrated by all who provide philanthropic support to educational institutions.”


Charitable Giving Coalition:

“The charitable deduction is unique in that it encourages individuals to give away more of their income and invest in their communities,” said CGC Chair Brian Flahaven. “Making the deduction available to all taxpayers ensures our country retains a strong and independent civil society in the face of challenges like those we’re seeing this year.”


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America:

“Since the pandemic, we regularly hear from parents telling us just how important a mentor has been for their child, especially during these times of isolation,” said Pam Lorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “The requests for our mentoring program keeps growing, which means funding and donations are essential to ensure we can provide a caring, adult mentor to children who need it most. Legislation encouraging charitable donations is critical, so more nonprofits can help communities stay strong and intact until this crisis subsides.”


Oklahoma’s nonprofits support the bill as well. Here’s what they are saying:


Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits:

“More than 300 nonprofits along with businesses and individuals have signed on a letter of support from the OKCNP for Sen. Lankford’s bipartisan legislation to enact a Universal Charitable Deduction.  The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is elated that Sen. Lankford has taken such strong leadership to promote and incentivize charitable giving. Missions throughout the country will benefit from great engagement in giving from donors now that those philanthropists have great access to tax incentives that promote charitable giving,” said Daniel Billingsley, Vice President of External Affairs, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.


Hardesty Family Foundation, Inc.:

“I am in favor of Sen. Lankford’s bipartisan legislation to create an above-the-line charitable deduction for non-itemizers this year in response to COVID. This gives us an incredible fundraising tool to get more people to donate. Thank you for listening,” said Michelle Hardesty, Executive Director, Hardesty Family Foundation, Inc.


Hearts for Hearing:

“Hearts for Hearing would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to US Senator James Lankford for introducing bipartisan legislation to create an above-the-line charitable deduction for non-itemizers this year. This legislation will provide opportunities for the nonprofit sector as we seek to obtain funds from donors to support our mission and programs. Thank you Senator Lankford for your efforts,” said Kris Hopper, Chief External Affairs Officer, Hearts for Hearing.