Public Outreach and Lobbying

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					Public Outreach and

  A Case Study in Public Action

    Council on Foundations
         Boston, MA
       September 2006
                 Outline of Session
□ Colorado politics and the Taxpayers Bill of Rights
  (TABOR): David

□ The Denver Foundation and Rose Community
  Foundation get involved: Rebecca and Phil
   □ Colorado Nonprofit Association
   □ Community Foundations for Colorado’s Future
   □ The Outcome

□ Lobbying: the Challenges, Barriers, & Opportunities
   □ Top Ten Considerations for community foundation lobbying
   □ Discussion and questions
             Colorado Politics
□ Conservative

□ Liberal (in urban areas)

□ Independent Streak

□ Frontier Mentality

□ Initiatives/Constitutional Amendments
   Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR)
□ Enacted in 1992

□ Basic provisions:
  □   Voter approval of revenue increases
  □   Limits revenue collection (“ratchet effect”)
  □   Limits spending
  □   Limits taxation options
     Since TABOR was enacted
□ Colorado has grown to 7th in the nation in
  per capita income

□ Colorado has among the poorest public
  services in the nation
                 Effects of TABOR
□ Statistics since TABOR:         □ Cut since TABOR:
   □ Teacher salaries lowest        □ Mental Health Program
     ratio to private earnings        in Youth Corrections
     in the U.S.                    □ Affordable Housing
   □ 47th in K-12 education           Loans and Grants
     funding                          Program
   □ 50th in immunization rates     □ All state support to local
   □ 45th in low-income               and regional health
     enrollment in Medicaid           agencies
   □ 48th in nation for state       □ All funds for full-day
     funding to higher ed.            Kindergarten in low-
                                      performing schools
                                    □ All funds for preschool for
                                      at-risk four-year-olds
   Times, they are a changing
□ 2004: Democrats take control of the both
  state house and senate

□ 2005: Legislative session focuses on state
  budget crisis
  □ Democratic legislature and Republican governor
    strike a deal

□ Referenda C&D
                Referenda C & D
□ State retains revenue for five years

□ Eliminates “ratchet effect”

□ Retained revenue only for:
   □   K-12 education
   □   Health care
   □   Higher education
   □   Repayment of Referendum D bonds

□ Referendum D would have authorized $2 billion in
  bonds for highways, school construction, higher ed
  construction, and police and fire pension funds
□ Private and Community Foundations:
  meeting about budget crisis

□ Ballot issue comes forward: private
  foundations step back

□ Community foundations approach
  Colorado Nonprofit Association
    Colorado Nonprofit Association

□ Already recognized impact of Ref C/D on
  nonprofit sector

□ Already leader in statewide campaign
  □ Creative concepts from foundation discussions
  + existing plans to educate on advocacy
  = Nonprofit Voice Project
            Building Support
□ Community Foundations for
  Colorado’s Future
  □ Statewide reach
  □ Political balance
  □ Funding assistance
  □ Host Nonprofit Voice Project Town Halls
     About The Denver Foundation

□ Founded in 1925              □ Grantmaking areas
                                 □   Civic/Education
                                 □   Health
□ $380 million in assets         □   Human Services
  □ About 40/60                  □   Arts/Culture

                               □ Major Programs
□ $27 million in grants          □ Strengthening
  in 2005                          Neighborhoods
  □ $5 m discretionary/$22 m     □ Expanding Nonprofit
    Donor Advised                  Inclusiveness Initiative
    Putting our                   where our                 is
□ Denver Foundation Executive Committee: $10,000
  from Community Opportunities Fund
  □ Commitment prior to ballot initiative when foundation
    group was meeting

□ Denver Foundation Board endorses measure
  □ Why?
     □ Affects entire sector
     □ Wide bi-partisan support
  □ Vote unanimous via e-mail

□ Another $10,000 approved from Community
  Opportunities Fund
     Let the campaign begin…
□ Nonprofit Voice Project included:
  □ Tier 1: Research and coalition-building
  □ Tier 2: Tools and Resources
     □ Training and toolkits on media and advocacy
  □ Tier 3: Statewide media campaign
  □ Tier 4: Capacity-Building Training/Town Halls
     □   Town hall meetings across the state
     □   Templates for board resolutions supporting the legislation
     □   Rally and other voter outreach action
     □   Volunteers for campaign activities
           Taking More Action
□ The Denver Foundation sends e-mail urging
  donors and constituents to vote “yes”
  □ Several positive responses
  □ A few negative responses

□ Denver Foundation hosts Leadership Summit
  in November after election
  □ Broad range of opinions on the wisdom of taking
         About Rose Community
□ $260 million in assets
□ $10 million unrestricted grantmaking budget
□ Five program areas:
  □   Aging
  □   Child and Family Development
  □   Education
  □   Health
  □   Jewish Life
□ Involved in public policy, systemic change…
       Previous policy involvement

□ Health policy staff in Governor’s office

□ Partner in forming Colorado Health Institute

□ Teacher-compensation policies—education
  to union voters

□ Denver Kids’ Tax “pre-election research”
  (2001, 2002)
      What is the 501(h) election?
□ From Alliance for Justice Web site :
The 501(h) expenditure test sets specific dollar limits,
  calculated as a percentage of a charity's total
  exempt purpose expenditures.

An electing charity is a public charity that has
  "elected" to be governed by lobbying expenditures
  limits (percentages of annual "exempt purpose
  expenditures") established by the 1976 Tax Reform
    The Pitch to Rose CF: $50,000
□ Preliminary discussion at Council of Chairs

□ Visits to five program committees requesting
  $10,000 each

□ Board approval due to potentially
  controversial activity

□ Public endorsement?
              Arguments for:
□ Colorado’s people and communities are

□ Hundreds of millions already slashed

□ Without modifying TABOR, more cuts on the

□ Biggest impact is on the most vulnerable
          More arguments for:
□ Biggest impact is on our key issues:
  □ Health care: Medicaid cutbacks, caps in SCHIP,
    crumbling mental health system
  □ Education: low teacher pay, large class size,
    decaying buildings
  □ Aging: demographic is growing, people living
    longer, resources shrinking
  □ Early childhood: Losing momentum for universal
    pre-K, quality ECE
       Still MORE arguments for:
□ The funding environment is forcing us away
  from our programmatic mission

□ We fund research, innovation, strategic
  growth, systemic change, BUT
  □ grantees need money to keep the doors open
  □ grants already made lack impact—no money to
  □ progress we’ve made to date is threatened if it
    can’t be sustained
       Further arguments for…
□ Foundations have credibility by
  □ remaining neutral on most issues
  □ in-depth understanding of community funding
  □ strong track record

□ Support for TABOR reform an effective use of
  foundation credibility when so closely
  aligned with programmatic mission
   Finally, ONE MORE argument for:
Campaign to be executed by Colorado
 Nonprofit Association
  □ Dovetails with their expanded mission in public
    policy arena

  □ Gives our nonprofit association statewide

  □ Elevates nonprofit association as a “player” with
    Chambers of Commerce, elected officials, others
    involved in campaign
        Cautions from board:
□ $250,000 (+ or -) is a pittance in a $7-$10
  million campaign, SO
  □ Focus these funds within nonprofit community
  □ Stay aligned with main campaign messages;
    don’t confuse voters
  □ Perception as “liberal” rather than “neutral”
  □ Be prepared for criticism from anti-tax groups
  □ Donor alienation? Non-issue
            Publicizing support
□ Listed as endorser on campaign Web site

□ Visibility on Colorado Nonprofit Voice
  Project Web site

□ Publicized support on our Web site

□ Sent letter to 7,000+ constituents
   Victory for Referendum C! YAY!!!

□ In final weeks, the polls remained very close,
  heavy advertising wasn’t moving the
  numbers one way or the other.

□ Publicly and privately, elected officials and
  political insiders credited nonprofit
  community for contributing to the successful
  margin of victory.
          Top Ten Considerations
2.    NEED
3.    TIMING
7.    RISKS

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