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Saturday July 26th 2014

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Business for Democracy and ASBC Lead Effort to Overturn Citizens United v. FEC

The Business for Democracy Campaign, which the American Sustainable Business Council is spearheading in partnership with Free Speech for People is tackling the compelling issue of corporate contributions to political campaigns.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision on January 21, 2010 allows corporations to spend unlimited funds to support or oppose candidates for political office, overturning campaign finance laws in place for decades. The Business for Democracy campaign is an initiative of business leaders and their companies who believe this ruling is in direct conflict with American democratic principles and a serious threat to good government. The campaign supports the four members of the Supreme Court and the 80 percent of Americans who disagree with the decision (Washington Post poll, Feb. 17, 2010).

If you'd like your business to join this effort, you can sign the statement of support here or here.

When and Why Foundations Should Blur the Line Between Profit-making and Charity

A recent New York Times article on program-related investing highlighted the $10 million equity stake the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took in Liquidia Technologies. Some in the foundation world are concerned that the investment blurred the line between profit-making and charity. We and our Braintrust advisor Stephen Viederman say foundations should blur those lines—as long as they deploy their endowment assets when they do so. We would argue that foundations should use all of the tools available to them to meet their mission and purpose: grants, program-related investments and, most powerfully, their endowment assets.

November 28, 2011–An article that appeared on Black Friday in the New York Times business section reported on the growing use of what are known as program-related investments (PRIs). PRIs have lately been made with increasing frequency by foundations as an additional tool within their grant budget to advance their missions. PRIs are counted in the 5 percent grant payout required by the IRS for foundations to maintain their tax-exempt status. However, to qualify as a PRI under the strictest interpretations of IRS rules an investment should be made without consideration for its financial return and it should usually be expected to yield “below market rate” returns.

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