Question: How have you built board support for your foundation’s policy efforts? What advice do you have for funders who wish to develop more support for policy engagement from their board?

Community Foundation Boulder County
Chris Barge, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

We have recently invited local thought leaders on the Census and on affordable housing to speak to our Board. This has led to board votes in favor of supporting a complete and accurate 2020 Census count, as well as votes in favor of collaborating with other affordable housing advocates on policy efforts.

Lumina Foundation
Jesse O’Connell, Director of Federal Policy, and Scott Jenkins, Director of State Policy

The best thing a foundation can do to develop board support for policy engagement is to put their program staff doing policy work in front of the board. Let the board ask questions and understand the work, allow them to voice their concerns about risks, and let the program staff respond to and calibrate the work against that guidance.

Missouri Foundation for Health
Alexandra Rankin, Director of Government Affairs, and Kristy Klein Davis, Chief Strategy Officer

Our Board understands the significance of investing in policy-change work because it is an efficient and effective way to ensure that everyone in Missouri has a fair and just opportunity to lead a healthy life. While direct programmatic services are still a crucial component of our work, influencing policy enables us to remove barriers and improve quality outcomes across a wide range of systems that impact health. Although policy change may be intimidating or difficult to evaluate, it offers a sustainable intervention that can serve broader constituencies.

Walton Family Foundation
Daphne Moore, Director of Communications

The Walton Family Foundation works with our Board to set five-year grantmaking strategies. Our strategy-development process requires deep engagement over the course of a year or longer.  Through this process, we contemplate the impact that public policy has on the issues we work to tackle in our philanthropy.

Read the full article about board support by Naomi Orensten and Ethan McCoy at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.