Thursday, August 26, 2010

As Political Season Heats Up, What about Advocacy for Your Nonprofit?

To help you select your nonprofit/fundraising reading , we've asked VLAA summer interns to describe and comment on some of the books available in our G&FC collection (and elsewhere.) Here's another review:

The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations by Marcia Avner

This guide was written for 501(c)3 charities. Other types of nonprofits are governed by different rules and should seek out other materials. The author herself, however, seems to suggest that this guide is one of several that organizations should read before launching a lobbying campaign. The handbook was creatively written. Besides the basics of lobbying, it discusses such topics as deciding whether to become part of a coalition, rehearsing meetings with the legislature, activities lobbyists should avoid, and how to handle failure. The author also describes organizing group treasure hunts and field trips to familiarize nonprofit members with the places and people involved in the lobbying process and with the lobbying process itself. In addition, the guide’s sample checklists and worksheets will facilitate compliance and good record-keeping, alerting readers to the fact that nonprofits are limited by laws governing reporting and expenditures. Lastly, the guide contains sample lobbying materials used by a nonprofit organization in Minnesota, including a proposal, campaign summary sheet, and a lobby-day agenda. While the author does provide some information about the differences between direct and grassroots lobbying, the distinctions are limited in scope.

-- Shannon Martínez, Law Student at Saint Louis University School of Law