Photo: Space Coast for their Joint Task Force Meeting

Advocacy Accelerators: Opportunities to Learn about Nonprofit Advocacy

Posted on October 27, 2023 by Alexa Carr, TPF Fellow 2023/24
Advocacy and lobbying can sometimes sound like "bad" or "scary" words for nonprofits because of IRS regulations that exist for 501(c)(3) organizations. Just because there are regulations on nonprofits does not mean nonprofits are completely restricted in doing these things. In fact, sometimes, they are essential to moving toward or accomplishing a mission. This is often the case for healthcare organizations.

At the beginning of my fellowship with The Patterson Foundation, I was introduced to Johnette Gindling, who was visiting TPF at the time. Johnette serves as the CEO of the Space Coast Health Foundation (SCHF). I shared with her that I was very interested in healthcare advocacy and policy as it relates to nonprofits, and she was gracious enough to invite me to the Space Coast for their Joint Task Force Meeting. The Joint Task Force meeting combines three initiative task forces of SCHF: behavioral health, access, and dental. This also gave me the opportunity to visit their Center for Collaboration.

The room was filled with individuals who deeply cared about the state of healthcare in Brevard County–from government organizations to practitioners to lobbyists. The collective task forces show the power of convening and collaboration. It was energizing seeing so many people who were passionate about their community and willing to come together to better the state of health in the county.
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This Joint Task Force meeting came at a very relevant time, as the prior week, I attended the Council on Foundations’ Essentials of Policy Advocacy for Grantmakers Webinar series. This webinar shared the legal bases and practical applications of nonprofit and foundation advocacy. It was an excellent learning opportunity and a great way to connect with so many grantmaking organizations passionate about advocacy themselves‑-or empowering their grantees to become more effective advocates.

The Patterson Foundation supporting me in these professional development opportunities is an excellent example of their commitment to the Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative. Throughout these experiences, I learned how nonprofits participate in advocacy and roles in organizations that deal most closely with advocacy. The Task Force Meeting and Webinar Series were incredible events to build professional connections within Florida and well beyond. I am most appreciative to the Space Coast Health Foundation, the Council on Foundations, and The Patterson Foundation for these opportunities to listen, learn, and grow.

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