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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 dimensions of engagement across which your organization can choose to become active in policy and advocacy work, depending on your unique circumstances and goal.
Tips on how grantmakers can legally participate in the political process.