Health advocacy

Many grantmakers avoid funding advocacy efforts for fear of running afoul of IRS regulations, but a new study says there are safe, effective ways to help fund nonprofits in their policy-related activities.

“Funding Health Advocacy,” released by Grantmakers in Health, says that by understanding what is and is not permitted for nonprofits, funding advocacy efforts can enhance grantmaking strategies.

Advocacy is different from lobbying, the study says, and includes permitted activities such as convening lawmakers for educational purposes, conducting research and analyses, and providing technical advice for congressional hearings.

Funding groups that lobby is allowed, the study says, as long as grants are not earmarked for lobbying, and assuming certain criteria are met regarding the portion of the recipients’ budget used for lobbying activities.

Providing general operating grants, rather than project-specific grants, gives nonprofits more flexibility in using the funds to influence policy while protecting foundations from the pitfalls of funding lobbying, the report says.

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