No More Half Measures

Published: October 2016

Type: Publication

Funders can get better at designing grantmaking strategies that meet the dual demands of advocacy capacity needs and the realities of the policy and political landscape. This brief explores how funders can support policy campaigns while also building advocacy capacity, instead of just picking one approach or the other.

Colorado Trust.  May 17, 2014.  Photo by Ellen Jaskol

Grantmakers who fund policy campaigns without simultaneously considering how their funding choices affect long-term advocacy capacity risk leaving policy wins vulnerable and defenseless to oppositional interests, or leaving a field of advocates no better prepared for the next round of policy battles. Funders who invest in advocacy capacity without linking it to specific policy targets risk pulling advocates’ attention from their own pressing policy goals and never seeing new capacities materialize into policy progress.

This brief explores how funders, no matter their size or their appetite for long-term funding commitments, can get better at designing grantmaking strategies that meet the dual demands of advocacy capacity needs and the realities of the policy and political landscape. It explores funder mindset and grantmaking approaches that are supportive of the long arc of policy work, and how to avoid getting caught in the tension between policy campaigns and advocacy capacity.

It answers the question:

How can funders, like advocates, treat capacity building and policy progress as inextricably linked?

Doing otherwise means funders are only getting halfway to where they need to go—and likely limiting their own effectiveness, as well as that of advocates they support.