8 Steps to Develop an Evaluation Plan

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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A Model for Multilevel Advocacy Evaluation

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

Categories: Grantmaking, Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Accountability Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Unstaffed Foundations

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Advocacy Capacity Tool

Assessing the capacity of the organizations you fund to deliver on those efforts can be difficult. ACT is a powerful tool for foundations that want to understand and evaluate the skills and readiness of their grantees, identify the specific gaps and opportunities in their own advocacy portfolios, and focus resources where they matter most.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Anti-bribery/Anti-corruption Rules for Private Foundations

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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Beyond the Grant: How the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Went Beyond Grantmaking to Contribute to a Major Early Childhood Initiative

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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Community Foundations and Advocacy

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Compliance Assessment for Private Foundations

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Conflicts of Interest: Steering Clear of Potholes and Other Bumps in the Road

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Expanding Organizational Advocacy Capacity: Reflections From the Field

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches, General Grants 

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Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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Foundation Advocacy Resources

This program helps foundations and nonprofits influence policy and public opinion by offering workshops, examples of documents, and technical assistance.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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Foundation Support for Election-Related Activity

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.

Categories: Grants Management, Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Foundations and Ballot Measures

Foundations may support grantees that engage in ballot measure advocacy. This document discusses how foundations may influence ballot measures while staying within legal guidelines.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Foundations for Civic Impact: Advocacy and Civic Engagement Toolkit for Community Foundations

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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GrantSafe

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Hearing on Public Charity Organization Issues…Testimony Before the Sub-Committee on Oversight of the Committee on Ways and Means United States House of Representatives

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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How Can Foundations Engage in Advocacy & Lobbying?

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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How Does Your Community Foundation’s Public Policy Work Stack Up?

This blog asks How many actions to support advocacy has your foundation taken? Tally up your score and scroll to the end for explanations.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Investing in Change: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Advocacy

This reference 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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Investing in Change: The Importance of Supporting Advocacy

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. This fact sheet shows how supporting advocacy is, quite simply, one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating change.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Keeping Track: A Guide to Recordkeeping for Advocacy Charities

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Lobbying Defined for Private Foundations

This fact sheet explains what activities count as lobbying under federal tax law for private foundations. Under federal tax law, private foundations incur a prohibitive tax on any lobbying expenditures, so it is important for private foundations to know exactly what activities meet the definition of lobbying.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Mandatory E-Filing: Toward a More Transparent Nonprofit Sector

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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Mapping the Future: Foundations and the Redistricting Process

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.

Categories: Grants Management, Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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New Voices at the Civic Table: Facilitating Personal and Social Change

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

Categories: History, Role in Society, Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches

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Permissible Activity During an Election Cycle

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Philanthropic Foundations: Payout and Related Public Policy Issues

This 2004 brief reports on a discussion from the tenth “Emerging Issues in Philanthropy” seminar series of foundation payout and regulation.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Financial Stewardship

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Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing. A Policy and Implementation Guide for Foundation Trustees

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.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Legal Issues and Laws, Financial Stewardship

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Philanthropy’s Civic Role in Community Change

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Beyond the Grant , General Grants 

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Private Foundations May Advocate

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.

Categories: Grants Management, Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Proving Foundation Impact on Public Policy Empirically: The Case of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Consumer Choice for Adults With Developmental Disabilities

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Financial Stewardship

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Public Charity or Private Foundation

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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Public Foundations Can Lobby

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.

Categories: Grants Management, Legal Issues and Laws, General Grants 

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Public Scrutiny of Foundations and Charities:The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Response

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Self-Dealing: A Concise Guide For Foundation Board and Staff

An overview on the self-dealing law, including definitions, common problem areas, exceptions, penalties, and resources.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501c3s, 501c4s and Political Organizations

Released in September 2012, the third edition of The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations explains the different roles and functions of charities, social welfare organizations, PACs and other types of nonprofits. We clarify the federal rules and illuminate the ways these organizations can work together to accomplish common goals. The third edition reflects the fundamental changes that have occurred in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, allowing corporations and labor unions to make independent expenditures, and the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Read more

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws

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The Potential of Partnerships for Health Advocacy and Policy Change: The Legacy of the Partnership for the Public’s Health Initiative

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

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Issue Specific Grantmaking

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Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking

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.

Categories: History, Role in Society, Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Trends in Global Philanthropy Among U.S. Foundations: A Brief Review of Data and Issues

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

Categories: History, Role in Society, Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches

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Turning the Ship: Moving From Clinical Treatment to Environmental Prevention: A Health Disparities Policy Advocacy Initiative

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

Categories: History, Role in Society, Legal Issues and Laws, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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What Every Grantmaker Should Know & Frequently Asked Legal Questions

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.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Words to Give By: Leading Voices in Advocacy Funding

A compilation of interviews with foundation leaders on the importance of supporting advocacy.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches, General Grants 

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