Public Outreach and Lobbying

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					Public Outreach and
      Lobbying

  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
               Meanwhile…
□ 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
    unrestricted/restricted

                               □ 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
    action
         About Rose Community
              Foundation
□ $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
  www.ajf.org :
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
  Act.
    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
  hurting

□ Hundreds of millions already slashed

□ Without modifying TABOR, more cuts on the
  way

□ 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
    implement
  □ 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
    issues
  □ 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
    exposure

  □ 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
1.    MISSION
2.    NEED
3.    TIMING
4.    THE POLICY ITSELF
5.    BOARD PREPARATION/MANAGEMENT
6.    COMMUNICATION
7.    RISKS
8.    CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
9.    EXPECTATIONS
10.   LONG-TERM CONSIDERATIONS

				
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posted:2/15/2012
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