Winter 2015-16

Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook


Date: February 28, 2016

The Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook: Leveraging Your Dollars, a new guide from the Alliance for Justice, sheds light on how foundations can effectively and legally support advocacy within their foundations and through their grantmaking.[i]

Many foundations shy away from advocacy, in part due to legal concerns – not realizing “the overwhelming majority of advocacy activities, including lobbying and nonpartisan electoral activity, are permissible.”

Divided into 11 chapters, the guide gives foundation leaders the resources to pursue their goals by embracing organizing, civic engagement, public policy, voter registration, grassroots work and other advocacy strategies. These resources include initial considerations for foundations first looking into advocacy, a clear explanation of the related legal rules, profiles of foundations that have successfully incorporated these strategies into their work, and a list of ten best practices for effective grantmaking to support advocacy.

Advocacy strategies are effective because they help foundations and their grantees address the root causes of social problems – a cornerstone of NCRP’s work. In fact, the Playbook cites NCRP’s report Leveraging Limited Dollars, which found that every dollar invested in advocacy, organizing and civic engagement provides a $115 return.[ii]

As AFJ President Nan Aron declares in the preface, “The record is clear: for foundations seeking to leverage the impact of their limited grant monies, the highest payoff comes from investing in advocacy strategies.”

[i] Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook (Washington, D.C.: Alliance for Justice, 2015)

[ii] Lisa Ranghelli, Leveraging Limited Dollars (Washington, D.C.: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, January 2012)