Everyday Advocacy Case Studies

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Throughout our nation’s history, advocacy by nonprofit organizations has led to fundamental reforms that have saved and improved lives and strengthened communities. At all levels of public and private decision-making, nonprofits have made a positive difference through everyday advocacy.

There is no substitute for the thrill of engaging directly. But by examining case studies, charitable nonprofits can be inspired and learn how they too can make a difference by advancing their missions through advocacy.

  • Lobbying Success Stories: Examples of How Nonprofit Lobbying Has Changed Organizations and Changed Lives
  • The Lab Results Are in on Tax ReformThe Hill (July 23, 2013): Tax Reform Lessons Learned from State ExperimentsHuffington Post (July 25, 2013); and Foundations Can Rewrite History by Focusing on the StatesNonprofit Quarterly (March 2014). While public attention often is distracted by federal proposals, the data reveal that much more policy action actually occurs at the state level. These three articles dive into threats by several states to take away or limit charitable giving incentives – and how the nonprofit community mobilized and shared information across state lines to defeat these harmful threats to the work of charitable nonprofits.
  • A Mere Mom Moves Mountains – and Legislation.”  Anna McCartney is the embodiment of Arthur Ashe’s quote: “Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.” This Seattle-area mom, who modestly proclaims “Gee, if I can do it, then anyone can do it,” has worked with various nonprofits to help pass legislation in Congress, the state legislature, and local governments. And to think that it all started with a simple breakfast with her baby.
  • Making Friends - Before They Are Needed: ‘It's Hard to Say 'No' to a Friend.’"  The tendency to measure legislative "success" by simply counting the number of good bills passed and bad bills defeated can overlook other invaluable victories. This Florida story reminds us that true legislative success can come in a variety of shapes and forms, including nonprofits becoming friends with policymakers.
  • Being Prepared Pays Off for Arkansas HIPPY Program.” As 600 delegates from across the country gathered for their annual conference in a state’s capital city, word spread like wildfire through the conference hall that the host state’s Governor was about to slash funding for early childhood education programs. Because nonprofit leaders in the state already knew the process and players, they were able to channel their out-of-state colleagues to action to defeat the cuts.
  • Civic Education Legislation Passed in North Carolina.” Usually it takes several years to pass major legislation. The civic education legislation passed in North Carolina was a striking exception. The measure was introduced in March of one year and became law in July. The story illustrates the importance of foundation funding of organizations that engage in advocacy. Here is how it happened.
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