New Resource on Lobbying and Advocacy Rules

May 23rd, 2012

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have jointly launched a free, first-of-its-kind online training for program staff at private foundations to help them navigate the rules of advocacy and lobbying.

The interactive resource provides program staff with a legal overview about how to remain within the law when the grants they fund, or activities they do involve advocacy and lobbying. The course takes less than an hour to complete and features “Maya”, a new program officer that leads participants through the training.

“While there are many rules and regulations applicable to our grantmaking, we find the IRS lobbying laws are some of the more important ones for our staff to clearly understand,” said Mary Anne Rodgers, General Counsel for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “Since these rules apply to all private foundations, we wanted to share this important resource with the field and make it accessible to program staff across the country.”

The training includes three easy-to-follow modules that cover issues such as:

  • An overview of how lobbying laws apply to private foundations and whom and what they can legally fund.
  • The types of grants private foundations are allowed to provide and how to fund when advocacy and lobbying are involved.
  • Guidelines and tools to help foundation staff engage with grantees and legislators.

Participants can also return to the training at any time for a refresher and click on the individual modules to refer back to specific topics.

The goal of the course is to supplement existing in-person workshops or trainings that legal counsel at foundations already provide to staff and it is intended to be the first in a suite of free training resources for private foundation staff.

“This online training sets a new standard for grantmaker education on lobbying issues. It understands where grantmaking staff are coming from and allows them to customize their experience,” said Lawrence Mendenhall, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Humanity United. “The training’s flexible functionality and use of hard-hitting examples is a potential game-changer for grantmakers and grantees working to change policy while remaining compliant with the IRS rules.”

For more information and to view the training, visit http://www.learnfoundationlaw.org.