Defining Your Role as an Advocacy Funder: To Fund or Act?

Some grantmakers fund advocacy, and some are advocates themselves. Many do both. The choice of whether a grantmaker directly promotes an approach to public issues or funds others to do so depends on several considerations: 

  • Whether the grantmaker or the grantee has a better knowledge of the substantive issues, the public policy process, and the means of influencing public decisions. (Most grantmakers said their own expertise pales in comparison with that of their grantees.) 
  • Whether the legal restrictions on a funder’s activity are different from those on a grantee, and whether those differences affect the kind of advocacy that could be conducted.
  • Whether the funder or the grantee is better able to devote the staff, time, and stamina to take a public role on the issue. (Sometimes each party brings one or more of these essentials, so they choose to share responsibility.) 
  • Whether the funder or the grantee would bring a greater weight or authority — technical, political, or moral — to the opinions being expressed. 
  • Whether the funder or the grantee is willing and able to accept the publicity — and maybe the controversy — that can result from a publicly visible role.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Advocacy Funding.