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.
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.
This resource was part of the Atlas Learning Project, an initiative to draw on the considerable experiences and insights of The Atlantic Philanthropies as its grantmaking came to a close. The Atlas Learning Project was a three-year effort coordinated by the Center for Evaluation Innovation to synthesize and share lessons from advocacy and policy change efforts that Atlantic and other funders have supported in the U.S., with the goal of helping push philanthropy and advocacy in bolder and more effective directions.