Advocacy funding pays off

PJ staff report

Philanthropic investment in advocacy work yields big returns, a new report says.

Analyzing advocacy work by 20 local nonprofits in four states in the Pacific Northwest supported with a total of $23.2 million in foundation funding from 2007 to 2009, the report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy says those groups helped generated over $5 billion in benefits to poor and marginalized people.

For every dollar invested in advocacy, community-organizing and civic-engagement activities of those 20 local groups, the return was $150 in benefits such as wages, expanded services, state housing investments in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, says the report, Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities.

Direct beneficiaries of the advocacy and community-involvement work ranged from all residents of each state to underserved communities such as the poor, families and children, immigrants, Native Americans, Latinos and other people of color, and lesbian and gay people.

“The true test of a philanthropy’s success, in our view, boils down to this: Does their giving help stimulate real solutions and long-term results that actually touch the lives of people who need help,” Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, says in a statement. “I’m happy to say that in the Northwest, we found evidence that this is happening.

The report urges grantmakers to put more dollars into community organization and advocacy, and not just on a short-term basis, to address the needs of underserved and marginalized people.

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