Advocacy & Lobbying

Foundations can be a powerful voice. Find resources and information about how Foundations can participate in shaping public policy as well as guidance regarding the legal rules and limitations that apply to public and private foundations engaged in lobbying and other advocacy activities.

In-Depth knowledge on Advocacy & Lobbying

Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources is a comprehensive guide to foundation law for the non-lawyer. It is easy to use, self-directed, and regularly updated. Once completed, the Compendium will be comprised of around 40 chapters covering all aspects of foundation law, from creating a charitable foundation and grantmaking basics to self-dealing and planned giving.

Attending Foundations on the Hill in April? Curious about how the fast-paced, animated, and often complex political environment can trickle down to influence your work? Wondering about whether tax reform will ever happen and, when it does, how these changes will impact philanthropy? During this webinar, you will hear how current debates here in our nation’s capital affect the work you do in your community. Experts discuss how what's happening on Capitol Hill could impact foundations, along with what is and is not on the radar screen of policymakers in Washington.

Before you engage with policymakers, it is important to have a solid understanding of the legal rules that apply. This webinar covers the fundamentals of how, when, and to what extent different types of foundations can engage with policymakers, their staff, or candidates running for public office. Through dynamic hypotheticals, speakers discuss what advocacy activity you as a foundation can do, what your staff can do, and what your grantees may do with your support.

Are you concerned about the state of higher education in the U.S.? This webinar features policy and foundation guest speakers who provide an overview of the status of Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. This legislation would authorize billions of dollars for Pell Grants, student loans, and other additional resources for students, teachers, and institutions of higher education. Issues that are likely to be debated include the affordability of college; access to, persistence during and completion of a college degree; better information for consumers; student loan programs; accreditation and oversight; innovation; and the burden of federal reporting and regulations. View this webinar to hear why the philanthropic sector should be interested in the outcome of the legislation.

The Council supports recent efforts by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to provide much-needed clarity on the political activities of tax-exempt organizations. However, the Council strongly opposes any new rules that would dampen nonpartisan activities and civic engagement efforts of nonprofit organizations.

Advocacy and engagement with lawmakers is an essential part of preserving and strengthening philanthropy. It provides an opportunity for you to communicate—in a variety of ways—the positive impact of charitable giving in the lives of their constituents every day, and ensure that they understand how the decisions they make in Washington matter at home.

You may be aware of the federal laws and regulations that impact advocacy work, but did you know that states often have their own rules to be aware of? Foundations that engage in advocacy activity at the state and local level should understand the rules at play within their states. Our colleagues at Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy initiative offer state law resources on campaign finance and ballot measures, lobbying disclosure and voter registration. These state laws can change frequently, particularly as courts continue to look at permissible limits of political activity, so please check back regularly.

Because the excise tax provision is a part of a single bill (the America Gives More Act), private foundations may express a position supporting the full bill under the self-defense exception. The Council is confident with this analysis. However, the Council respects its members’ own determinations regarding legal issues, and individual policies or practices related to lobbying activity. We encourage members to consult with their own legal counsel regarding any questions.

The policy issues that impact philanthropy are wide-ranging. The Council’s team of policy and legal experts regularly monitors and tracks proposals impacting individual giving incentives, tax code provisions that impact the business operations of foundations, IRS regulatory proposals, Administrative actions, policies affecting cross-border philanthropy, public-philanthropic partnership developments, and much more.