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.
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
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.
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.
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.
There are several proposals being considered in Congress that have significant implications for philanthropy and its effectiveness in addressing some of our most pressing challenges. In addition to educating lawmakers in Washington, D.C., communicating the impact locally is just as important! Here are some ways your organization can spread the word about the correlation between philanthropy and thriving communities.
Make the most of your meeting with a member of Congress or congressional staffer by following this checklist and effectively conveying your message to them.
The initial outreach for engaging with your policymakers is important because it sets the stage for future interactions. Learn about how to make the most of this initial contact!
This webinar covered effective ways of communicating with members of Congress using the Internet and social media.