News and Insights

Sharpening Our Advocacy Tools for a New Administration

02/07/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Advocacy is an important tool in philanthropy's toolbox. Are you wielding it effectively? With so many policy changes coming from the new White House, Congress and state agencies, foundations and their grantees need to be engaged more than ever. Eager to learn more, sharpen their skills and compare notes, we offered a workshop last month on how private and public foundations can support grantees’ advocacy efforts and engage in advocacy themselves. Abby Levine, director of Alliance for Justice's Bolder Advocacy initiative, provided an overview of activities that constitute advocacy and public policy work, along with examples of advocacy roles for foundations, definitions of lobbying, and rules for private vs. public foundation grants to nonprofits that engage in lobbying (including general support, specific projects and multi-year grants). more »

Shaping Advocacy, Rebuilding Democracy

01/12/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | The beginning of January always signals a mad rush of advocacy alerts to my inbox and phone. As a former lobbyist, I recall the junior high-like atmosphere of reconnecting with your friends and frenemies during the first few days of the legislative session, refreshed from the time away and ready to consider new alliances. This January, however, is like no other. An unprecedented presidential election outcome, followed by continued confusion and rancor, has increased public appetite for activism. The speed in which these debates are happening — in person and online, 24 hours a day — requires immediate and intensive focus. Philanthropy must be involved in the short-term work of shaping policy change and the long-term work of rebuilding the institutions we use to advance the common good. more »

Seizing the Opportunity to Expand Our Political Discourse

11/04/2016

Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategy Director and Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | In just a few more days, we can finally close the book on the 2016 election season. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting cycle fraught with anxiety and frustration. It would be easy to dismiss the vitriol of the current election as an episodic blip not worth understanding for the long-term work of philanthropy — but experience and common sense tell us that these emotions and currents won’t be put to rest easily after Election Day. This election season has illuminated how many Americans feel that full participation in our democracy is regulated to the privileged and powerful. We are convinced, however, that this climate has created an opening for productive dialogue, moving it further into the places where we continue to be divided as a nation. If anything, the messiness of this political environment has revealed the ways in which we are broken — creating an on-ramp to begin to think creatively and take action. more »

From Skeptics to Champions: Getting Board Members on Board with Advocacy

05/18/2016

Sheila Babb Anderson, Campion Foundation & Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Our polarized climate may discourage nonprofits and foundation leaders from engaging in advocacy — but to solve many of the challenges we’re working on, government must be part of the solution. And for government to change laws and enact policies, we need engagement and visible support from nonprofits working on these issues. When weighing a proposal, a skeptical policymaker will wonder why leaders of organizations responsible for a related mission are sitting on the sidelines. Nonprofit board members are influential members of the community — that’s why they’re on the board in the first place! — with diverse views, backgrounds and networks. They are a critical piece of this changemaking puzzle. more »

Introducing the Catalyst Fellows

03/03/2016

Jeff Clarke, CEO | Poet William Blake wrote, "The true method of knowledge is experiment." Here at Philanthropy Northwest, we honor Blake and the countless others who have offered similar encouragement by taking initiative to conduct learning experiments. Our latest? The Catalyst Fellows, a place-based experiment in thought partnership and network learning. We’ve designed this program to begin and steward ongoing conversations about the important role that different types of capital, each integral to philanthropic strategy, play in creating and sustaining vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. While there are many important forms of capital, we’ve chosen to begin this work by focusing on influence (advocacy), financial (impact investing) and natural (sustainability) capital. more »

Raising Philanthropy's Voice in an Election Year

03/01/2016

Remy Trupin, Advocacy Catalyst Fellow | Election years are a tantalizing time, and with proper counsel and support, philanthropic organizations can be powerful advocates. When and how can your foundation speak out on a particular issue? Can foundations fund lobbying activities by grantees? Is it OK to provide candidates with talking points? What about funding voter guides and voter registration drives? Eager to learn more and share their experiences, Ballmer Group Philanthropy, Campion Foundation, Raikes Foundation and other funders recently participated in our Advocacy in an Election Year workshop. more »