Guest post by David Biemesderfer, President and CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.
Florida Philanthropic Network is pleased to once again be leading the state’s delegation to Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), March 21–22. Although we coordinate visits with our members of Congress back in their home districts throughout the year, FOTH is a critical part of our annual public policy engagement work.
Because Florida is such a large state, FOTH offers a great opportunity for our grantmaking members from Miami to the Panhandle to gather in the nation’s capital for two days of focused interaction with our senators and representatives and their staffs. Our FOTH team members always walk away from the experience feeling energized and inspired by the collective voice we bring to Washington, on the statewide and national levels, and they enjoy the camaraderie that the FOTH experience always engenders.
FOTH is also a great model of collaboration between the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and the Forum’s members across the country. Our sector is much better served, and has much more power, when we all come together for the common good.
A highlight for us last year was our meeting with Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who at the time was a new member of the all-important House Ways and Means Committee. Two years ago, it was our meeting with then-Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, which led directly to her introduction of a bill to extend the IRA charitable rollover. Talk about seeing our Hill visits make a difference! We always walk away from our days on the Hill learning something new, making new connections, and feeling like we moved the needle just a bit further in helping philanthropy to build a better Florida.
I’ve been involved with FOTH since the beginning, and my advice to our delegation members never changes. First, make sure you tell your story, in your own words, about the good work you’re doing in your communities. Second, always wear comfortable shoes.