Dimensions of Engagement
There are several dimensions of engagement across which your organization can choose to become active in policy and advocacy work, depending on your unique circumstances and goal.
As you consider how to engage or advocate on a particular issue, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the issue at hand?
Though the Council on Foundations primarily engages on issues related to tax policy, your foundation can advocate on any number of issues that align with your mission.
- What is the value-add of advocacy to supplement your other efforts or initiatives?
Consider the efforts, programs, or initiatives you currently have underway to address the issue at hand, and consider how advocacy might complement those efforts to further your progress toward success (see also, Securing Board Buy-in).
- Who does it make sense to engage on this issue?
There are bound to be many stakeholders on the issue you plan to address through advocacy efforts. Beginning with your own organization, and thinking outward in concentric circles, who might it be beneficial to engage in your efforts ensure the most successful outcome?
- In which ways should we engage on this issue?
There is a spectrum upon which your foundation can engage—from a ‘light touch’ type of advocacy, to more direct and involved type of advocacy. Given your particular issue and circumstances, which ways does it make sense for your organization to get involved in advocacy?
- To what extent will we engage on this issue?
Depending on this issue, your circumstances, and your desired outcome, it is helpful to consider how much of a component and priority advocacy work should be for your efforts surrounding the issue at hand.
- At what level and which branch(es) does it make sense to engage?
Consider how far-reaching the issue at hand is. Is your goal to change the state of affairs just in your local community, or does it involve increasing awareness at a state or federal level? Can federal lawmakers or regulatory agencies aid in your efforts at a local level?
- What constitutes a “success” for these efforts?
Is success passing (or hindering the passage) of a bill? Building awareness? Sustaining a coalition?
Laws & Rules for Advocacy
Though foundations have a significant amount of flexibility to engage in policy and advocacy work, certain restrictions still exist. Learn more about what types of activities you are allowed to engage in under the law.
This content is for Council members only.