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
Bolder Advocacy expands on the final capacity areas from the Advocacy Capacity Tool and present skills, knowledge, and practices that can help funders identify organizations’ capacity for sustainability and long-term advocacy: Organizational Commitment to supporting advocacy work, including leadership commitment for, and staff time dedicated to, this work; Organizational fundraising practices that incorporate an understanding of how foundations can support advocacy and that help funders understand how the group can use advocacy to accomplish its mission; Decision-making structure and process that allows the organization to make timely and well informed decisions related to public policy advocacy; and Fiscal management practices Read more
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.
IRS regulations pertaining to private foundations are often complicated and sometimes gray. Foundations that aren’t aware of the rules, or don’t follow them properly, expose themselves to risk. Foundation Source has developed the following 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 Read more
Across the country, community foundations are recognizing the power of public policy work to advance their missions. Some do so by awarding grants for advocacy activities like public education and research. Others support nonprofits to lobby. And many others engage in advocacy themselves by taking positions on issues they care about. How many actions to support advocacy has your foundation taken? Tally up your score and scroll to the end for explanations.
When a foundation gives money directly to a program that provides community services, the impact is seen immediately: low-income children receive a new educational program or a charity hospital can provide health care to individuals in need. Supporting advocacy is a little different. The impact may be harder to see and measure at first, but changes in public policy are often a precursor to the meaningful, long-term success vital to tackling larger community challenges. Supporting advocacy is, quite simply, one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating change.
Advocacy is an important tool to help an organization advance its mission. You know that and we know that, but perhaps you need some help convincing colleagues or board members that engaging in advocacy is essential for your organization. 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.