The philanthropic sector has a unique opportunity to highlight the voices and concerns of the communities it works with. Nonprofit Votes, Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations believes we should bring those voices to the forefront. By producing a toolkit to provide nonpartisan support, encourage voter participation and strengthen democracy we hope we have taken that step. These include one aimed at community foundations, and another aimed at private foundations. The toolkits provide a cross-section of measures to educate and organize nonpartisan events around voter engagement, including options, sample content, and case studies.
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
The Advocacy Toolkit is designed to be a central resource for Council members and others engaged in the philanthropic space to learn about why it is important—now more than ever—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.
If policies are implemented that threaten or weaken philanthropy, it hinders our sector's ability to perform the work that has been so carefully woven into the fabric of our culture over many years. Particularly with tax reform as a distinct policy priority of Congressional leadership and the skepticism among policymakers for endowed philanthropy, the threat of policies that could hinder our work is imminent.
This element of the advocacy toolkit is meant to provide specific resources on "how-to" when it comes to engaging with your policymakers—particularly with your Members of Congress and their staff.
One of the toughest challenges with getting involved in advocacy is getting beyond that initial hurdle of making the case for why it is a strategic and important tool for pursuing your mission. Here are some questions you might anticipate to receive from your board members about advocacy, and suggested points to incorporate in your answers.
Policymakers have become increasingly skeptical of endowed philanthropy in recent times. It is up to us to create an environment in which philanthropy can grow and thrive, and to promote policies that allow the philanthropic sector to remain vibrant, inclusive, innovative, and effective.
Though the law varies somewhat between what community and public foundations are allowed to do, versus what private foundations are allowed to do in terms of lobbying, all foundation-types can engage in advocacy!
Members of Congress are interested to learn about the work that you are doing in their communities. Visit this page to help you find your Member of Congress.
Read about your colleagues' insight and lessons-learned in their advocacy experiences.
The purpose of this chapter of Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources is to help you understand the federal tax laws and regulations that govern how, when, and to what extent different types of foundations can engage with policymakers, their staff, or candidates running for public office.