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?

Latest on Foundations:

» Success Story: Texas Philanthropists Step Up to Defend Public Education

How a big-tent approach and a focus on credible research mobilized Texas foundations to join together to protest deep cuts in education spending.

» Blog: Breakthrough Philanthropy: Providing Leadership to Move Policy

Highlights from the March 13, 2014, webinar with the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Larry Kramer, NCRP’s Aaron Dorfman, and AFJ’s Nan Aron and Abby Levine.

» Blog: Dr. Robert Ross Calls on Funders to Engage in Power Politics

The California Endowment’s CEO pushes back on philanthropy’s’ fixation with technical solutions to vexing problems.

» 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.

» Blog: How Funders Can Support Ballot Measure Work

With the initiative process a more popular tool for achieving policy goals, here’s how foundations can participate.

» Blog: Atlantic Philanthropies’ Big Bet On Health Care Reform

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.

» Blog: Philanthropy and Democracy? The Verdict is In

The time for debating whether philanthropy has a role has past. Now it’s time for action.

» Blog: Three Things Funders Can Do to Empower Grantees

The Clark Foundation’s Douglas Bauer recently spelled out how grantmakers can help nonprofits cope with scarcity and assert leadership.

» Blog: Small Foundations Embrace Advocacy to Catalyze Change

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.

» Blog: How Foundations Can Win Friends and Influence Public Policy—Without Lobbying

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.

» Blog: Yes, Council on Foundations, More Advocacy Please!

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.