Advocacy and Lobbying

About this collection: This Content Collection features a series of guides and resources on advocacy and lobbying from Learn Foundation Law, a free first-of-its-kind resource for private and family foundations, as well as NCFP webinars and other resources on advocacy grantmaking strategies.

This Content Collection features a series of guides and resources on advocacy and lobbying from Learn Foundation Law, a free first-of-its-kind resource for private and family foundations, as well as NCFP webinars and other resources on advocacy grantmaking strategies. Also included is research on the rate of return on investing in advocacy strategies, as well as case studies of a number of family foundations, both small and large, that have used advocacy as a core part of their giving strategy.

Please see the NCFP Content Collection on Systems Change for related information and resources.

Start Here: Learn Foundation Law Course List

Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations

Video
The legal staff at the Packard Foundation, Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Moore Foundation developed this free, first-of-its-kind resource, which covers the basic legal rules around what staff are allowed to fund and engage in at a private foundation. It takes less than an hour to complete and features “Maya,” …

Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities

Video
The legal staff at the Packard Foundation, Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Moore Foundation developed this free, resource, which covers the basic legal rules around the electioneering prohibition. It takes about ninety minutes to complete and features "Maya," a program officer that helps participants through the course.

Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations

Video
The legal staff at the Packard Foundation, Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Moore Foundation developed this free, resource, which covers the basic legal rules around expenditure responsibility. It takes less than thirty minutes to complete and features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course.

Working with Government Officials: Rules for Private Foundations

Video
This free resource covers the rules for private foundations related to working with government officials and takes approximately 60 minutes to complete. The training features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences.

NCFP Webinars on Advocacy and Lobbying

Hands in air_protesting_advocacy
September 10, 2020

Families Funding Advocacy and Policy Change

Advocacy is an important tool for funders seeking to address systemic inequalities ingrained in our policies and practices, and it can be the sole focus of an organization or an additional strategy employed to create lasting change. Many families pursue advocacy because of a founder’s interest or legacy, while …
October 11, 2018

Advocacy Guidance for Nonprofits and Foundations

Influencing public policy is one way to increase your organization’s impact for changing people’s lives. Join our speakers from Alliance for Justice and RESULTS Educational Fund for insightful information on how you can develop a strong advocacy plan. Learn the importance of advocacy work and how to legally …
July 14, 2016

Social Movements for Good: Family Philanthropy Fuels Change

Social movements are at the core of society -- raising awareness about issues and providing a voice for those that are often not heard. These movements are rooted in the idea that individuals can band together and combine resources to garner support for an issue. Social movements are great opportunities …
August 9, 2012

Advocacy and Family Philanthropy: Leveraging Limited Dollars for Impact

New research from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy shows that family foundations are a leading source of support for nonprofits active in policy advocacy and civic engagement. Why do family foundations choose to invest in these strategies to advance their mission? What kinds of impacts are they achieving, and …
June 12, 2008

Family foundations and advocacy: Making your grant dollars go further

Contrary to popular belief, family foundations may fund grantees to advocate-and can even advocate themselves. Abby Levine reviews the various activities that constitute advocacy and describes why foundation support for advocacy is so important. She explains the legal rules governing such activity, outlining the types of activities family foundations may …

Case Studies of Families and Funders

The Story of How the Civil Marriage Collaborative Helped America Embrace Marriage Equality

Report
There were many forces at work in this historic change: tenacious leaders and litigators, coalitions of diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations, straight individual and organizational allies, elected officials, celebrities, and most important, hundreds of thousands of individuals, couples and families at the grassroots level.

The Tow Foundation: Revamping the Juvenile Justice System Through Advocacy

Impact Story
Today, the foundation’s staff members commit more than 50 percent of their time to advocacy and collaboration with public and private partners to improve the lives of children involved in or at risk of involvement in the Connecticut juvenile justice system. With support from the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, which …

Advocacy and Family Giving: Leveraging Limited Dollars to Maximize Impact

Article
The Brindle Foundation in New Mexico is concerned with the well-being of children and youth, and funds in the areas of education, early childhood development, youth development and human services.  Brindle has assets of $14.2 million and annual giving of $579,000 (as of 2010). As the Board and staff of the foundation explored …

Additional Research and Perspectives

Policy Influence: What Foundations Are Doing and Why

Report
Among its key findings, Policy Influence shows that foundation leaders clearly believe in influencing policy as an important lever for change. This report seeks to provide foundation staff, leaders, and boards with data and insights that will spur them to candidly discuss philanthropic involvement in public policy — and help guide …

Four Ways Family Philanthropies Can Support Social Movements

Article
Social movements are at the core of who we are as a society. People participate in these social movements because those who can’t stand up for themselves need the voice of strangers to be there for them. It’s the real reason most of us get behind a cause – …

Creating Change Through Policy Advocacy

Blog Post
This Bainum Brief highlights 10 ways foundations can engage in policy advocacy, with examples from many funders across an array of topics. It also provides some lessons learned to make the best use of scarce resources and maximize the chances of success.

Making Advocacy a Family Philanthropy Affair

Article
Advocacy is an important tool for family philanthropists seeking to address mounting issues of inequality or for those who recognize that funding direct services alone is not enough to create lasting change.

Family Foundations May Advocate

Tool
Family foundations may participate in many forms of advocacy activities and may fund advocacy. Although family foundations do incur a prohibitive tax on any lobbying expenditure, lobbying is only one type of advocacy and there are many permissible advocacy avenues for private family foundations. This short paper from Alliance for …