Key Points

Philanthropy has a significant role to play in public policy advocacy, both in involving the individuals they support in advocacy and ensuring that advocates have the tools to be successful — not only in funding, but also in robust capacity-building assistance.

Looking at the work of the National College Attainment Network, this article explores how philanthropic investments can impact advocacy, in both financial and capacity-building support, through a recounting of a recent advocacy grantmaking initiative. It also details the key conditions conducive to policy change and the supports that were provided to grantees during the funding period.

As philanthropic leaders consider how to make wise programmatic investments in the realm of advocacy and how to best evaluate that investment, this article also discusses conceptual assessment frameworks for effective advocacy investments elevated by scholars and practitioners, and puts forth an original set of practical evaluation guidelines that were used in the evaluation of its grantees’ success. Also included is a specific issue-area case study on the impact of the collective grantee cohort.

Open Access