Philanthropy Forum

The Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good is a time-limited think tank devoted to considering whether our current rules governing the charitable sector are adequately serving the public good. 

The work of the Forum is undertaken with the support of many of the country's leading foundations including: the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, Inc., the Chicago Community Trust, the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, in addition to a generous anonymous donor.*

We seek other foundations to become involved as active participants in this important work.

*The work of the Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good does not necessarily represent the views of those foundations.

Philanthropy and the charitable sector are the institutional embodiments of society’s highest ideals: the voluntary commitment of time and resources in pursuit of making the world a better place. It is because of these important ideals that the government chooses to subsidize charitable activities through the tax code.

However, experience teaches us that legislation and regulation do not always produce optimal results. Society must periodically revisit the rules and ask whether they adequately further the accomplishment of desired goals. This inquiry serves to strengthen the philanthropic sector as well, as any perceived disconnect between the charitable sector and the public good undermines public confidence and invites reactive legislative intervention.

The goal of the Forum is to assume a leadership role in developing a full and fair airing of issues in connection with this inquiry. While Congress has shown interest in addressing issues of philanthropy and tax policy, too often the only feedback it receives is from interested parties and too little attention is paid to the broader public good. The work of the Forum is non-partisan and unencumbered by constituent interests.

The Forum operates as a time-limited think tank that brings together the nation’s leading experts in philanthropy to engage deeply in matters of philanthropy policy. By raising the level of sophistication of policy discussions and their timely expression, we believe that the Forum plays a useful, non-partisan role in raising, exploring and resolving issues whose resolution stands to promote the use of philanthropy in pursuit of the public good.

Upcoming Events

TBA

A diverse consortium of funders, including large and small public and private foundations, supports the work of the Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good, including: the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation, Inc., the Chicago Community Trust, the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

We seek other foundations to become involved as active participants in this important work.

Interested in becoming a co-sponsor?

Contact:

Ray Madoff
Professor of Law and Forum Convenor

Co-Founder and Director: Ray Madoff
Ray Madoff is a Professor at Boston College Law School where she teaches Property, Trusts and Estates, Estate and Gift Tax and Estate Planning. Professor Madoff is the author of Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead (Yale 2010), which looks at how American law treats the interests of the dead and what this tells us about our values for the living. Professor Madoff is also the lead author of Practical Guide to Estate Planning (CCH) (published annually from 2001-2014). Professor Madoff has written numerous articles on philanthropy tax policy, including on such issues as payout from donor advised funds and perpetuities and private foundations. 

Professor Madoff is a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the New York Times, and has also published Op-Eds in the Washington Post, the LA Times, the Boston Globe and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In addition, she has appeared on dozens of national radio shows including On Point, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and Marketplace.

Professor Madoff is a member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel and past president of the American Association of Law School’s Trusts and Estates Section. She was named a 2014 Top Women of the Law by Mass Lawyer’s Weekly.

Co-Founder and Special Advisor: William Bagley
William Bagley teaches the Law of Philanthropy at Boston College Law School and serves as director of gift planning at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, MA.  His training includes degrees from Holy Cross, Harvard and Suffolk Law School and a research fellowship at Yale Divinity School. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts' state and federal courts.  His postings have, among others, included senior positions at the Congressional Research Service, Yale, Boston College, Choate Rosemary Hall and the Trustees of Reservations (MA).  He has advised a Ford Foundation-funded initiative in affordable housing, a HUD sponsored effort to engage philanthropy to eliminate lead poisoning in underserved housing and has served on the board of many non-profits.  His research is focused on the intersection of law and philanthropy.  His writing ranges from observations on philanthropy for Harvard’s Neiman Foundation to poetry published on the Prairie Home Companion website.

In June 2017, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called on tax stakeholders to provide ideas, proposals, and feedback on how to improve the American tax system. In response to Senator Hatch's request, Professor Ray Madoff (Professor and Director of the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good) and Professor Roger Colinvaux (Professor, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America) submitted a letter proposing changes to the rules governing donor-advised funds and private foundations. In response to the Colinvaux-Madoff letter, an industry group submitted their own letter to Congress and Professors Madoff and Colinvaux responded to the industry letter. 

This type of robust exchange of ideas is one of the things that we hope to promote in creating the Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good. 

Coinvaux-Madoff tax reform submission
Daf joint response
Response to industry DAF letter

 

Events Archive

September 22-23, 2016
Giving in Time Scholars Conference

April 4-5, 2016
Giving in Time: Perpetuity, Limited Life, and the Responsibility of Philanthropy to the Present and the Future
Chronicle of Philanthropy: Foundation Chiefs Spar on Question of Giving in Perpetuity
Stanford University Pacs Center: Giving in Time
Video from event

October 23, 2015
The Rise of Donor Advised Funds: Should Congress Respond?

October 2014
Convention on Promoting Meaningful Reform in Philanthropy

More:
Archived papers and materials from prior events (Digital Commons)