Policy Advocacy’s Time Has Come

Wendy Williams, Editor
Wednesday, 14th February 2018 at 5:55 pm 

There is a growing impetus for philanthropy to fund policy advocacy, according to a new report.

The Power of Advocacy, produced by Philanthropy Australia, makes the case for philanthropic support for advocacy and argues that funding policy advocacy can be an effective way to address complex social and environmental challenges.

The resource builds on the momentum from the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, which was held in September 2017 and had a strong focus on policy advocacy.

Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies told Pro Bono News policy advocacy’s “time has come”.

“There was a time when supporting policy advocacy was something only a small group of funders did, but that’s no longer the case, and a wide range of funders now have an interest in supporting policy advocacy,” Davies said.

“There’s a real buzz in the air around it – you can really feel that its time has come.”

According to the resource, funding policy advocacy, which involves working to achieve change in a particular cause area by seeking to influence public policy – including laws, regulations and government practices – can be an effective way to address complex social and environmental challenges.

“If we are to have an impact and strive towards more and better philanthropy, it means using all the tools in our philanthropy toolbox. One of those tools is funding policy advocacy,” the report said.

“Policy advocacy can be a very effective strategy to achieve long-lasting, broad based, systemic change. Our laws and policies, corporate behaviours and public sentiments shape social and environmental outcomes.”

The Power of Advocacy sets out to explain what policy advocacy is, outline the rationale for philanthropy funding policy advocacy, set out the law regarding funding policy advocacy, address some misconceptions, and present eight case studies of philanthropy funding policy advocacy.

There is also a message for charities and not for profits, that philanthropists are keen to fund advocacy.

The Civil Voices report, which was published by Pro Bono Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre in December, found three quarters of respondents believed that philanthropists would rather fund service delivery over advocacy activities by NGOs.

However The Power of Advocacy highlights that philanthropy is increasingly keen to fund advocacy, with the message for charities that they should not shy away from applying for funding for advocacy projects.

Davies said the latest resource was a useful “conversation starter” for both not for profits and philanthropists.

“Philanthropy Australia is focused on more and better philanthropy, and this report provides a useful tool for funders exploring this approach as a way to achieve increased impact,” she said.

“We also hope it will be a helpful tool for not for profits to use as a conversation starter with funders – given that more funders are interested in this approach, there are some real opportunities to work together collaboratively to achieve change through policy advocacy.”

The report can be seen here.

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