Giving Compass' Take:

• Kris Putnam-Walkerly explains how funders can become key players in policy advocacy before and after the legislative process. 

• How can advocacy advance your philanthropic goals? What existing advocacy efforts could you effectively bolster? 

 • Read about why strategic philanthropy needs advocacy.

Are you missing a key chance to policy change? Most foundations know that they can’t lobby directly for a piece of legislation that is being considered by a lawmaking body. But before the legislative process around a new piece of public policy ever begins, foundations can be key players in shaping the landscape for that policy and building knowledge and momentum. On the other side of the legislative process, after a policy passes through legislation and becomes law, some of the harder and longer-term advocacy work begins as new policies are implemented.

Here are six ways funders can support policy advocacy before and after the legislative process:

1) Establish a Vision. Foundations can use their convening power to bring together the best minds around a specific issue to spark discussion and new ideas that may become placeholders for future policy.

2) Conduct Research. Foundations can supply vast amounts of objective research to inform any policy debate. Research also can show the effectiveness or unintended consequences of a policy after it is enacted.

3) Educate Others. Grantmakers can play a powerful role in helping to educate a community about an advocacy issue, and can even educate policymakers directly in many cases.

4) Support Advocacy Organizations. Organizations that engage in advocacy, community organizing, civic engagement, or similar activities are the backbone of policy and systems change work.

5) Support Implementation. Once a policy is adopted, the work of implementation begins – and it is where the lion’s share of work is actually contained.

6) Legal Advocacy. Most policies are not implemented or enforced flawlessly.  Advocacy through the court system is a complementary measure to policy advocacy to advance policy goals.

Read the full article about advocacy work by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at Putnam Consulting Group.