Susan Rhea

Wondering what is OK to put in advocacy evaluation reports to funders?

Evaluating nonprofit advocacy work to influence policy often raises questions for nonprofits, and for outside evaluators when they are present.  It’s important to get credit for the advocacy work that’s been done, but no one wants to raise flags about lobbying and other activities that might make funders or nonprofit board members nervous.

It’s not always clear to those doing evaluations how generous the Federal rules for advocacy work are.  For example, evaluation reports can include lobbying activities without endangering the tax status of funders or nonprofits.

Evaluators, whether they are from a nonprofit’s staff or from outside the organization, have to make sure that their efforts encourage, rather than discourage, important advocacy work done. In order to be clear when evaluating advocacy work about what activities are legally allowable, and to learn more about the role evaluators can play with funders and nonprofits, please see the article Legal Considerations Every U.S. Advocacy Evaluator Should Know, by Sue Hoechstetter and Nikhil Pillai which appeared recently in the American Evaluation Association’s Advocacy and Policy Change topical interest group newsletter.  You may also want to share it with other stakeholders who might not know how generous the rules are.