Foundations have a critical role to play in advocacy. From funding nonprofits who seek to have a lasting impact in their communities, to raising awareness of issues by commissioning studies and writing reports, to encouraging specific policy outcomes, foundations are a necessary catalyst for change.
Across the country, foundations are recognizing the power of advocacy to advance their missions. They understand that while direct services are critical to addressing immediate human and community needs, service provision alone does not create lasting, long-term solutions. Investments in advocacy allow foundations to maximize their resources by working up stream to change the policies and systems that affect the issues they care about.
Although the rules vary for public and private foundations, all foundations can support organizations that advocate and they can engage in certain types of advocacy themselves, such as nonpartisan voter education, community organizing, and research on a specific policy issue. Read: What’s Holding You Back from Funding Advocacy?
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» Blog: The Gist of Buffett’s Message
Peter Buffett’s op-ed generated a lot of buzz after criticizing philanthropy for fetishizing market solutions to big problems.
With the initiative process a more popular tool for achieving policy goals, here’s how foundations can participate.
The foundation was driven by the sense of opportunity that reforming health care was the biggest social justice issue in the U.S.
» Blog: Not Afraid of Risk: Brico Fund
With ambitious grantmaking goals, the Wisconsin-based LLC funds nonprofits that are willing to challenge rules and old ideas.
» Profile: Hard-Hitting Advocacy for Economic Justice
The Rockefeller Family Fund supports campaigns for paid sick leave around the country and recently celebrated a second victory.
» Profile: Funding Marriage Equality for Decades
The Boston Foundation has a long history of supporting LGBT civil rights — and even filed a brief at the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA.
The time for debating whether philanthropy has a role has past. Now it’s time for action.
The Clark Foundation’s Douglas Bauer recently spelled out how grantmakers can help nonprofits cope with scarcity and assert leadership.
Andy Carroll of the Association for Small Foundations on how passion for and connection to an issue propel small-staff philanthropists to engage in policy work.
Gerald P. McCarthy of the Virginia Environmental Endowment shares strategies for informing policymakers about your cause.
» Profile: A Funder Targets Sex Trafficking
The Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga decided to focus on making change by changing policy — and last year helped pass laws addressing sex trafficking, an emerging problem in the state.
» Blog: Food, Shelter, Advocacy
Giving nonprofits funding to speak up for their communities is the missing ingredient in disaster funding that can maximize philanthropy’s impact.
Vicki Spruill’s announcement of a new campaign to speak up for the philanthropic sector reminded us of other areas where foundation advocacy could be useful.
» Speaking Out Interview: Geri Mannion of the Carnegie Corporation
Mannion makes the case for funding civic engagement in an election cycle.