Philanthropy as a sector produces an ever-increasing body of writing aimed at encouraging impact investments for the public good. Much of that writing ignores a key consideration: Any foundation involved with impact investing cannot be taken seriously if it does not engage in policy.

For many foundations, particularly family foundations, the idea of engaging in policy work is daunting, and in too many cases it's viewed as something to be avoided entirely.

But while too many foundations consider engaging in policy work to be risky, I argue that it is as important a function as grantmaking and evaluation. And if we take evaluation seriously, we have no choice but to share those learnings with others, including policymakers.

Shaping policy that influences and shapes what government does cannot and should not be relegated to nonprofits acting by themselves or to individuals in town hall meetings. Grantmakers have a powerful voice to contribute to these deliberations. By choosing not to engage in policy — either directly or through a grantmaking association — foundations are abrogating the responsibility that comes with the stewardship of their tax-exempt endowments.

Read the full article on foundations engaging in policy by John Mullaney at National Center for Philanthropy

To read more by NCFP, check out their Family Philanthropy magazine on Giving Compass.