Nonprofit foundations can leverage grant dollars and their personal knowledge of their communities’ needs through advocacy. Unfortunately, many foundations avoid advocacy because it is confused with lobbying. However, advocacy and lobbying are not the same! Advocacy covers a wide range of activities that seek to bring about systemic social change, often seeking to address the root causes, as well as the symptoms, of social and economic problems.
Advocacy by charitable nonprofits may include:
- Providing general support grants to organizations engaged in advocacy activities
- Conducting public education and training sessions about political participation
- Engaging in limited direct lobbying (up to 20% of annual expenditures)
Through advocacy efforts you can help others by:
- Preventing loss of resources – you might be able to stop a proposal to slash funding that would hurt the communities you serve.
- Lowering barriers to broaden access to important services – you might be able to increase the staffing for a particular government agency.
- Illuminating real community needs – you might be able to shine light on a particular social problem that has been ignored, allowing policy makers to see the problem and then address it.