Public Policy

Building strong communities requires creating an environment in which the philanthropic sector can work collaboratively with policymakers to effect positive change

Philanthropy Northwest is uniquely positioned to connect funders and policymakers over shared interests.  We engage in public policy work to advocate on behalf of our sector and to help our members become more effective in matters of public policy, advocacy, and civic engagement. Learn more about our positions on specific policy issues, how to contact members of Congress and visit our digital resource center for a curated list of recommended philanthropy advocacy resources.

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), a convening of regional funders and national policymakers in Washington, D.C., is a highlight of our public policy work each year.

In 2019, our delegation will attend FOTH from March 11-13. Learn more about the FOTH agenda and register online. For more information about the Philanthropy Northwest delegation, read our FAQs.

For funders: Philanthropy Northwest monitors issues that affect the philanthropic sector in our region and tracks policy news outside the Northwest through our numerous partnerships with regional and national infrastructure groups. We share knowledge and resources through our communications, programs, training and workshops to keep funders informed, engaged, and connected.

For policymakers: Philanthropy Northwest works on behalf of the sector to keep elected officials informed by regularly sharing news of the impact philanthropy is making in our region and across the country. Whenever possible, Philanthropy Northwest engages elected officials in programming and workshops to help them stay connected to the philanthropic and nonprofit organizations that are working on the ground.

We invite both funders and policymakers to explore the public policy section of our website to learn more, hear about upcoming events and gain access to valuable resources.

Why Advocacy Matters

Many hear the word “advocacy” and think it’s best left to someone else. In fact, every foundation can — and should — advocate for the issues in which their foundation invests and on legislation that affects the way their foundation operates. Our friends at Philanthropy Southwest put together this video, "The Importance of Advocacy," in which three of their member foundations about the origins, evolution and importance of their advocacy efforts.


State Legislative Bill Trackers

Want to keep track of bills as they move through your state legislature? Each state legislature in our region provides free tools for tracking legislation through the lawmaking process — and in most cases receiving alerts and notifications about particular bills you care about. Here's where to get started:


Resources for Advocacy and Working with Government

In this report, The Promise and Challenge of Community Democracy, authors Garland Yates and Peter Pennekamp reflect on their experiences and observations in discussion of what is needed to truly build change in communities.

June 14, 2017 Funder briefing powerpoint presentation on the imapct of the 2018 Federal budget on state and local governments by Michael Leachman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Daniel Kemmis explores the sometimes-fraught relationship between philanthropy and democracy. Beginning with a wide-ranging stroll through the shared history of philanthropy and democracy, Kemmis examines the current post-Citizens United landscape and asks whether philanthropy can and should do more to strengthen the infrastructure and practices of democracy.

A group of leaders have come together to create Democracy Northwest, a project to explore what philanthropy can do to strengthen democracy. Through an initial convening, two focus groups, sessions at the Philanthropy Northwest annual conference and other conversations, participants are broadening the conversation, sharing strategies to strengthen democracy, and using democratic practices to strengthen philanthropy in turn. This discovery process generated a range of ideas to further explore and develop. In the action phase of the project, participants will identify the most promising ideas and support further inquiry, create programs, tools, and participate in communities of practice to support them. This document summarizes the main ideas that emerged through the Discovery Phase.

Democracy Northwest is a resource for philanthropists who might be motivated to devote more attention to strengthening democratic practices and institutions. At a time when our democracy is suffering from multiple afflictions, philanthropy has a unique opportunity to contribute to its revitalization.

As one contribution to that work, we have prepared this working menu of democracy-strengthening resources. We recognize how incomplete this catalogue is, and we welcome suggestions about how to make the document more comprehensive and more useful in your work.

Trends in Northwest Giving

Trends in Northwest Giving is Philanthropy Northwest's biennial report on organized philanthropy in our six-state region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming). Our 2014 edition analyzes 24,013 grants to Northwest organizations from 245 funders in 2012, totaling $979,171,356.


Read Trends in Northwest Giving 2014


Top Funders and Giving By Subject in Each State

In-depth information on foundation and corporate grantmaking in each Northwest state, along with a list of the top 10 funders in each state and detailed breakdowns of giving across issue areas.