Innovation Network identified eight key steps in our 2005 evaluation of a U.S. federal policy change campaign.These steps may also be useful in other advocacy evaluations.
Innovation Network identified eight key steps in our 2005 evaluation of a U.S. federal policy change campaign.These steps may also be useful in other advocacy evaluations.
The Colorado Trust provided three years of general operating support to nine advocacy organizations working to increase access to health through policy change work. The nine grantees had a variety of goals and strategies and had different levels of organizational capacity, but were evaluated using a uniform evaluation approach. The evaluation was designed to build grantees’ own evaluation capacity to incorporate real-time feedback, monitor progress toward goals, and to assess growth in the overall health advocacy community in Colorado. Individual grantees identified short- and intermediate- term outcomes related to The Trust’s intermediate outcomes, which were in turn related to the Read more
This self-assessment tool is designed to be a comprehensive resource to help you determine if your unstaffed private foundation (family, independent or corporate) is complying with key federal laws and regulations and is engaging in generally recommended good practices for being accountable to the public. Addressing issues of accountability is an ongoing process for an organization, and this tool is designed to help organizations with that process.
There’s more than one way to influence policy. Larger public policy battles like health care reform, immigration, and civil rights often take place in multiple venues including legislatures, courts, executive agencies, candidate forums, and public forums on ballot measures. But even small policy campaigns present opportunities at federal, state, and local levels to influence the outcome via the following targeted advocacy avenues which are discussed later in this article: Administrative Advocacy Legislative Advocacy Ballot measures or referenda Nonpartisan election-related activities Litigation
This course, developed by the legal staff at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, covers the basic legal rules and shows staff at private foundations how to remain within the law when the grants funded, or the activities engaged in as staff members, involve advocacy or lobbying. It takes less than an hour to complete and features “Maya,” a new program officer that leads participants through the course. Three modules provide an overview of how lobbying laws apply to the work of private foundations, Read more
This tool helps assess organizational advocacy capacity by taking a snapshot of an organization’s skills, knowledge, and resources, and by providing analysis of the results. Comparisons to other organizations will be available after a database is established.
This toolkit is designed to be a central resource for people engaged in the philanthropic space to learn about why it is important for philanthropy to have a voice in policy, how to effectively use advocacy and lobbying to advance your mission, what the most critical or priority “asks” are for the sector at any given time, and to better understand the key policy issues that are top-of-mind for our sector.
The legal staff at the Gates Foundation developed this free resource, which covers the basic legal rules around anti-bribery/anti-corruption. It takes approximately twenty minutes to complete.
Key Points The seven-year SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) initiative, created by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), aimed at systemically linking the pre-K and kindergarten worlds as a way to position vulnerable children for greater success in the early grades. At the foundation, the initiative served as a departure point for WKKF to move from its traditional grantmaking role to a changemaker role. To create change, a foundation must articulate – and commit to – a point of view about how change can occur. A theory of change can be a powerful tool to guide ongoing planning Read more
This fact sheet shows how community Foundations can play an active role in the public sector and can support lobbying, advocate, lobby, and support other election-related activities. All of these actions however, have their limits.
Foundation Source developed a 15-question assessment to help you identify activities that could increase your foundation’s exposure to risk. There are no right or wrong answers. Once you have submitted your responses, we will email you a customized report that outlines the specific rules governing your foundation’s activities. The report will also identify the extent of the risk and penalties when these rules are not followed. The goal is to help you better understand potential compliance issues for your foundation.
Most family foundations prefer to focus on the business of giving, without having to worry about tripping over the sometimes obscure rules and regulations that govern this work. But the fact is that family foundation boards need to be aware of potential potholes on the road named philanthropy. Driving blind down this road can get you into trouble. One potential pothole is real or perceived conflict of interest, a topic frequently misunderstood, and often confused with self-dealing.
Many recent proposals for budget and tax reform would change the value of the charitable contribution deduction. This report provides context for policymakers who may be considering one or more of these reforms, as well as for other interested observers. We first offer a basic overview of charitable giving and the legal rules for claiming the deduction. Next we discuss the various rationales that have been offered in its support and highlight critiques of the deduction. We then examine various proposed reforms, including caps, floors, credits, and grants, in light of those critiques.
Organizational advocacy capacity is an increasingly important area of inquiry, raising questions about the opportunities (and limits) for achieving and sustaining policy change. The California Endowment implemented the Clinic Consortia Policy and Advocacy Program to expand grantee advocacy capacity to support the policy and operational needs of California’s community clinics. In-person meetings with decision-makers and developing working relationships were among the key advocacy activities undertaken by 19 grantees. Grantees secured several policy wins through a variety of strategies, including mobilizing member clinics to be potent advocates. The “return on investment analysis” indicates that grantees secured policymaker support for clinic programs Read more
The legal staff at the Packard Foundation, Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Moore Foundation developed this free, resource, which covers the basic legal rules around expenditure responsibility. It takes less than thirty minutes to complete and features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course. Participants can also return to the training at any time for a refresher and click on the individual modules to refer back to specific topics. Course covers: Grantees that do and do not require expenditure responsibility How it is exercised (pre-grant inquiries, grant agreements, separate accounts, reports, IRS) How to handle complicating issues Read more
This program helps foundations and nonprofits influence policy and public opinion by offering workshops, examples of documents, and technical assistance.
Supporting election-related activities is an effective way for foundations to strengthen democracy by broadening the civic dialogue and giving a voice to underrepresented communities. Find out how your foundation can support election related activities in this fact sheet.
Foundations may support grantees that engage in ballot measure advocacy. This document discusses how foundations may influence ballot measures while staying within legal guidelines.
This toolkit is a collaborative project of Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI), CFLeads, Council on Foundations and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It provides provide practical advice and essential knowledge to help community foundations integrate public policy practices into their everyday leadership work to achieve greater community impact.
IRS regulations require that private foundations verify the exempt status of any 501(c)(3) public charity before making a grant, to ensure it is currently in good standing with the IRS. The most accurate and comprehensive source for this information is the IRS Business Master File (BMF). While the BMF is publicly available, it is neither simple nor easy for an individual to decipher. GrantSafe’s proprietary technology eliminates that hassle and complication. Finding an organization is now as easy as typing in the organization’s name or tax ID number. A green check mark or red “X” instantly tells you the status. Read more
Staff from the Urban Institute, GuideStar and the Foundation Center submitted joint comments to the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means, United States House of Representatives for its hearing on “Public Charity Organization Issues, Unrelated Business Income Tax, and the Revised Form 990” July 25, 2012. The authors make recommendations for achieving greater transparency, accountability and effectiveness in the nonprofit sector by requiring electronic filing of IRS Forms 990 to improve the quality of data on nonprofits and the speed with which those data become available.
A review of the legal basics of how grantmakers can be involved in advocacy and lobbying work, with specific information for private foundations, community foundations and corporate grantmakers.
This blog asks How many actions to support advocacy has your foundation taken? Tally up your score and scroll to the end for explanations.
This publication was created to address the many questions nonprofit organizations have about advocacy in the new environment of dynamic digital communication; to ensure that nonprofit advocates stay within the law; and to demonstrate that robust participation in our nation’s democratic process is not just possible, but actually enhanced by new technologies.
This book is an indispensable guide for foundations in explaining the various roles they can play in the advocacy process. Investing in Change can serve as an in-depth guide to navigating the tax code surrounding support of public charities, or a quick reference guide to answer a specific question.
This fact sheet shows how supporting advocacy is, quite simply, one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating change.
The latest (Spring 2012) publication from Alliance for Justice is Keeping Track: A Guide to Recordkeeping for Advocacy Charities designed to help public charities comply with federal tax law by tracking their lobbying activities. Funders are encouraged to share this publication with their grantees that engage in lobbying. Lobbying is an essential tool for many 501(c)(3) public charities. In addition to activities such as public education, research, and policy advocacy, lobbying can be an effective tool for advancing an organization’s mission. Of course, the primary goal of recordkeeping is to meet the requirements of the IRS. “Keeping Track” explains that Read more
This course empowers fundraisers, board members, staff, and volunteers of nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations to enhance their knowledge of the legal and ethical considerations of fundraising. Topics include forming and maintaining a nonprofit corporation, as well as acquiring and maintaining tax-exempt status. Also, discuss the regulation of fundraising; innovative fundraising techniques; charitable registration; corporate governance and the duties, responsibilities, and potential liabilities of members, the board of directors, and the staff; and standards of professional conduct for fundraisers.
This fact sheet explains what activities count as lobbying under federal tax law for private foundations.
The Obama administration’s 2014 budget proposal authorizes the IRS to require electronic filing (e-filing) of returns filed by all tax-exempt organizations. While mandatory e-filing of these forms will yield more robust and timely data for potential donors, nonprofit managers, regulators, and researchers, some observers are concerned about the potential impact on paper filers and tax preparers. In this brief, we will examine this concern in more detail and report findings from a small survey of certified public accountants, thought by some to be opposed to e-filing, that shows instead that they are widely in favor of it.
This fact sheet provides guidance for public foundations to safely and legally participate in the redistricting process and fund grantees that engage in this work.
This article describes six pilot initiatives of the Alliance for Children and Families — New Voices at the Civic Table (New Voices), a philanthropy-funded effort to challenge human service organizations to integrate civic engagement as a permanent part of their infrastructure. All six New Voices models included common elements: leadership training, civic education, experiential learning, participatory decision-making, networking, and reflective evaluation. Each also reflected one of four primary variations to civic engagement based on their community needs and demands: self-efficacy, constituent involvement, mobilizing, and organizing. Results demonstrate that civic engagement in human services not only produces a means for promoting Read more
Grantmakers can and should play an active role during elections, particularly by educating and activating voters. Learn about permissible activities during an election cycle from the Donors Forum of Chicago.
Both proponents and opponents of changes in the laws, regulations, and practices of charitable foundations have the same goal: enhancing public well-being through the best use of charitable resources. In the language of investment, that goal implies maximizing the social return on those assets. Measuring the social return on different types of activities and comparing outcomes or even outputs over time, however, is not so easy. Moreover, the issue of how to treat existing foundation assets and activities cannot be separated from the broader issue of the development of the charitable sector as a whole, including the establishment of new Read more
According to a 2009 Foundation Center report, 12 percent of foundations plan to spend-down their assets, and 63 percent plan to give in perpetuity. What’s surprising is that 25 percent of foundations are undecided. No one likes to dwell on his or her own mortality, but thinking about how you want your philanthropy to be managed after your lifetime is essential.
The right mix of philanthropic legal structures is different for everyone, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions philanthropists have when ramping up their giving is “what structure or combination of structures should I use?” This guide is not intended to replace more specific tax, estate, or legal counsel, but instead offers a walk through a few of the options and some considerations when making this decision.
The goal of this guide is to provide foundation trustees and, where or when appropriate, staff with a process to create both an overall policy for mission-related investing as well as specific paths for implementation.
This article describes six key roles for philanthropic organizations’ engagement in communities. It draws on Living Cities, a consortium of financial organizations, private foundations, and public sector organizations that has been working since 1991 to improve distressed neighborhoods in 23 cities. The six civic roles described are (a) convening and leveraging diverse networks of relationships, (b) developing local data and plans for community change, (c) leveraging new resources on behalf of communities, (d) mobilizing political will, (e) framing new messages about community development and communicating more strategically, and (f) generating and testing new ideas and building and sharing knowledge. Typically Read more
While private foundations incur a prohibitive tax when they engage in or fund advocacy, they may still engage in a variety of advocacy activities. This fact sheet explains how private foundations can engage in a variety of advocacy activities.
This free (and fun) video defines and helps the user understand the basic legal rules for program-related investments. The video guides the user through the PRI process, and discusses how these investments can support the organization’s programmatic work and/or expand the organization’s charitable work. The training features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences.
Foundations that work on national public policy issues face challenges in demonstrating impact. This case study of how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s initiative to support choice of program provider for developmentally disabled adults uses some advanced statistical techniques to demonstrate the impact of the foundation’s funding. This study suggests that to get the greatest impact on policy change, foundations should consider offering modest competitive grants to governmental departments; spending the funds in regional groupings; and focus on jurisdictions that have demonstrated interest in the policy area by spending their own funds.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization may be classified by the IRS as either a public charity (also called a public foundation) or a private foundation. Except for those nonprofits which are granted automatic charity status, such as churches, it is the organization’s responsibility to notify the IRS, by filing Form 1023, that it wants to be a public charity. Otherwise, it will automatically be categorized as a private foundation. Ensuring a correct categorization is important, because different regulations apply depending on your organization’s classification. This resource is designed to help you decide whether your organization should apply for public charity or Read more
501(c)(3) public charities, including grantmaking public charities like community foundations and women’s foundations, can lobby within the generous limits allowed by federal law. This fact sheet explains the lobbying rules for public foundations.
This chapter of the RWJF Anthology provides an overview of congressional scrutiny of foundations and charitable organizations and the sector’s response. They place the 2005 Senate hearings in the context of past congressional examinations of foundations, analyze the underlying issues, and explain how philanthropy is trying to address concerns about its lack of accountability. The authors conclude by discussing the approaches adopted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make its own work more transparent, especially through its evaluation and communications strategies.
An overview on the self-dealing law, including definitions, common problem areas, exceptions, penalties, and resources.
This publication aims to increase the rigor with which impact investors frame their investment decisions and demonstrate the integration of impact investing across asset classes. In conjunction with the team of academics and practitioners who have produced this monograph, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors highlights some of the areas in which behavioral economics and innovative organizational and legal structures can be applied to the discipline of impact investing. By describing best practices in transparency, disclosure and rigorous decision-making, we also hope to bridge the divide between traditional and social purpose investing.
For those of you interested in the original laws, statutes, court decisions, agency rulings, and other original sources themselves, Bolder Advocacy has compiled a list of those most relevant to advocacy.
To speak up for their causes effectively, nonprofits need the right tools. This guide was produced as part of Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy Initiative – which provides resources to help nonprofit organizations be confident participants in the policymaking process – to help those who govern and manage nonprofits select the organizational structure that will best enable them to achieve their policy goals. Using clear terms and plain language, “The Connection” explains the different roles and functions of charities, social welfare organizations, PACs and other types of nonprofits – and clarifies the federal rules on how organizations can work together Read more
This article reports on a study of 11 partnerships between public health departments and community organizations that were funded by The California Endowment to support advocacy and organizing to improve health outcomes in the communities. The evaluation examined the sustainability of the partnerships as well as the policy and advocacy work of the organizations. Almost 90 percent of the activities in policy change and community capacity building was sustained, whereas partnership and health department capacity building activities were the least likely to be sustained. The policy change legacies at the community level were strong and included empowerment of community members, Read more
This article provides guidance on how foundations can frame, focus, and advance efforts to achieve public policy reforms. Five essential steps for developing public policy strategy are described: choosing the public policy goal, understanding the challenges, identifying influential audiences, determining how far those audiences must move, and deciding how to move them. Two tools developed specifically to support foundations during the strategy development process are presented.
International grantmaking has increased dramatically in the past two decades, at a rate faster than domestic grantmaking. The increase in international grantmaking, stimulated by increased interest in global issues, was fueled by increased foundation assets and especially by new foundations created since 1990. While many of the issues confronting international grantmaking exist with domestic grantmaking, they have special aspects and increased importance because of the global context. Many foundations have now accumulated information about how best to work in partnership with other foundations, governments, and business; these lessons would benefit all foundations. Thoughtful collective action taken by foundation membership organizations Read more
This article examines success factors for a statewide initiative to reduce health disparities by establishing environmental policies to reduce asthma risk factors for school-aged children. Twelve local coalitions and a statewide network focused on schools, housing, and outdoor air policies. Multiple types and levels of policy advocacy were encouraged by the Initiative so that issues at the local level linked to larger issues across the state, and conversely state-level policies supported local endeavors. Factors that contributed to the success of the initiative included: structuring the initiative on a systems change model; employing multiple technical assistance providers to assure fidelity to Read more
As part of our continuing efforts to help foundations maintain and improve the effectiveness of their work, the Minnesota Council on Foundations has prepared this comprehensive resource to help private, corporate and community/public foundations understand their legal requirements and obligations. This publication and its companion piece, Principles for Grantmakers & Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations, are key publications in MCF’s Philanthropy & Public Trust series.
Recently, Bolder Advocacy Legal Director Abby Levine conducted a series of webinars in conjunction with the Stand for Your Mission (SFYM) campaign. The first webinar focuses on the importance of advocacy and makes the case for why and how organizations can benefit by standing up for their mission.
A compilation of interviews with foundation leaders on the importance of supporting advocacy.