The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations

The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations

Paperback(Second Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781618580078
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 07/23/2013
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 597,088
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Marcia Avner, author of The Board Member’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy and the first edition of The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations, has more than 40 years of experience in nonprofit consulting and advocacy strategy. Avner serves as a Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) where she was Public Policy Director from 1996-2010 and is a faculty member and Coordinator of the Nonprofit Concentration in the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership Program (MAPL) at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

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Form the Forward

Legislative advocacy by nonprofit organizations has been a defining aspect of U.S. social progress for the last 50 years. Organized citizen voices (sometimes criticized as “pressure groups”) have been essential contributors to passage of landmark pieces of legislation, from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – and made similar impacts at the state, county and city level on any number of issues. Americans have learned that if you want to fight (or support) City Hall, you are far more effective when you do it with others, and have a clear agenda and a lobbying plan.

This instrumental role of “people power,” using the power of numbers combined with a savvy knowledge of legislative processes, media, and persuasion, goes at least as far back as the formation of the United States. Beginning in 1791 the First Amendment guaranteed the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” anticipating important roles for citizens beyond simply electing representatives, and this is now an essential complementary voice in democracies worldwide.

While nonprofits may be best known for the activities of sponsoring arts and culture, providing health and human services, forming schools and universities, underlying each of these activities is the belief that citizens in a democracy have a right (and for many a natural desire) to be involved in collective efforts that are larger than friends and family but smaller than the state. It is also true that the nonprofit sector’s active democracy role inevitably leads to tension with government, resulting in regulation and some restrictions, and in some countries outright suppression and police action.

Even as the democratic role of nonprofit organizations is a permanent fixture on the political landscape, the methods and vehicles are constantly evolving. From Internet advocacy, social media, and new organizational forms to changes in regulations and disclosure requirements, the last 10 years have seen both an increase in nonprofit advocacy and a major shift in the way it is done – making this new edition of the Handbook a necessity.

Many important fields of the U.S. nonprofit sector have their origins in an intense period of activism and direct public and legislative advocacy, but now have a greatly reduced presence in public decision making after becoming institutionalized with public contracts, full-time paid staff, well-organized fundraisers, and Web sites. This is true for many organizations across the domestic violence movement, neighborhood organizing, education reform, environmental protection, civil rights, HIV/AIDS, disability access, etc. While the highest point of activism and public attention of early years may not be possible to sustain over the long run, it should not be abandoned since “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” It is regrettable that only about a third of nonprofits are actively engaged in public policy, even though the issue and people they work with are deeply affected by government decisions every day – and sometimes the very existence of their organization is dependent on continued government funding.

Fortunately there is a growing partnership among longtime advocates and new leaders joining the sector who agree that there is no good reason for nonprofits to be bystanders, not have a public policy committee or participate in the decisions affecting their field. That is a leadership responsibility, and to do otherwise ignores a key aspect of how the modern world functions. In this book Marcia Avner presents a critical guide and skill set for leaders of organizations. I have seen that board members and managers of nonprofit organizations are constantly drilled in every aspect of the basics of financial management, IRS reporting, HR, performance measurement, good governance, and so on. Public policy advocacy needs to be seen in that same light as an essential competency if nonprofit organizations are to achieve their potential.

If I had my way, every interview for a new nonprofit executive director, CEO, board chair, or senior manager would include the questions “What do you think should be on this organization’s public policy agenda? How would you go about making that happen?” For the second question, the pages that follow offer the best guide there is.

—Jon Pratt, Executive Director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Engage in Advocacy? Why Lobby?
    The Essential Role of Nonprofits in Shaping Public Policy
    The Advocacy Cycle: Ongoing Work for Change
    How to Use This Book
Chapter One:  Get Ready: Develop a Plan for Advocacy and Lobbying
    Planning Step 1: Create a Planning Process and a Planning Team
    Planning Step 2: Articulate Policy Vision and Goals
    Planning Step 3: Develop a Policy Agenda: Establish Criteria and Identify Issues
    Planning Step 4: Target Arenas of Influence Where Issues are Decided
    Planning Step 5: Choose Strategies and Tactics for Effective Advocacy
    Planning Step 6:  Design the Organizational Infrastructure You Need
    Planning Step 7: Create Your Plan
    Planning Step 8: Affirm Organizational Commitment to the Plan and You’re Set!    
Chapter Two: Go: Implement Your Advocacy and Lobbying Plan
    Assign Organizational Roles and Responsibilities: Board, Staff, Policy Advisors
    Get and Manage the Information You Need
    Build Communications Systems:
        Reaching Your Internal Audiences: You and Your Supporters
        Influencing External Audiences: Opinion Shapers, Decision Makers, The Public
            Design Your Advocacy Campaign
        How to Develop and Advance a Policy Position
        How to Organize and Mobilize Community Based Support for Your Position
        How to Build Power Through Collaboration
        How to Advocate and Lobby in Legislative Arenas
        How to Advocate and Lobby the Executive Branch, Administrative Agencies
        How to  Expand Your Reach through Media Advocacy
        How to Evaluate Your Organization’s Advocacy
Chapter Three: Sustaining the Cycle of Advocacy: Expanding Impact through Civic Engagement
Chapter Four: Nonprofits and the Law
          Lobby Law
          Nonpartisanship and Election Law
Appendix A: Rapid Responses to Crises or Opportunities
Appendix B: Resources for Nonprofit Advocacy and Lobbying
Appendix C: Legislative Process: A Guide
Appendix D: Worksheets

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A must read for every nonprofit board and executive team seeking effective, practical and legal advice on how to achieve their organization’s mission by engaging with elected officials and policymakers at every level of government.” —Emmett Carson, Ph.D. CEO and President, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook is essential reading for every non-profit Executive Director and staff member. It explains the imperative and mechanics of advocacy and will be an invaluable tool for everyone who wants to ensure that all voices get heard in our democracy.” —Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change

“In this revised edition Marcia Avner . . . reveals in practical terms how safe and easy advocacy is and how advocacy can strengthen the nonprofit in other important ways.” —Tim Delaney, President and CEO, National Council of Nonprofits

“A must-have for any nonprofit professional who values the importance of advocacy efforts.” —Lindsey Hodel, Director, Colorado Participation Project

“An essential resource that should be on the desk of every nonprofit leader.”  —Gary Bass, Executive Director, Bauman Foundation and former Executive Director of OMBWatch

“This handbook is an important part of the work that we do: teaching current and future nonprofit leaders the value and practice of nonprofit advocacy. It’s been used successfully here at Georgetown . . . Students and nonprofit leaders alike appreciate its practical and well organized guidance.” —Kathy Postel Kretman, Ph.D., Director, Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership, Georgetown University

“Nonprofit advocacy has never been more essential than it is today. Avner’s excellent handbook is a practical and realistic source of knowledge, guidance and support that makes it possible for any nonprofit, regardless of prior experience, to be effective in the important work of advocacy and lobbying.” —David O. Renz, Ph.D., Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri-Kansas City

“I have used Avner’s book as a textbook in my graduate school class because it gives such clear, practical advice on how to change public policy for the better with your staff and board. If you’re trying to figure out how to do it, these are the tools for you.” —Sheila Smith, Executive Director, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts

“Marcia Avner . . . and the book put us on the leading edge of nonprofit advocacy.” —Wy Spano, Founder and Co-Director, Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership Program, University of Minnesota-Duluth

“Practical and useful, this is a clear and up-to-date guide on all aspects of advocacy. It’s a must-have for nonprofit executives.” —Elizabeth Boris, Director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute

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