Advocacy How-To Resources
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Can Nonprofits Lobby?

This two-pager from Bolder Advocacy, a program of the Alliance for Justice, explains that 501(c)3 organizations can indeed lobby, including supporting specific pieces of legislation, if they follow the rules. The general guidance is that nonprofit organizations CAN LOBBY IF they spend LESS THAN 5% of their time on lobbying activities. This is the default measure used for nonprofits called the insubstantial part test. Read more here.

If organizations are expanding their lobbying to be a regular part of their activities, they may want to consider the 501(h) election, which provides a specific calculation for permissible lobbying beyond the "less than 5%" guideline. Read more here.

Advocacy Institute 101 (2016)

These are the slides from NCAN's first Advocacy Institute, a training for college access professionals looking to increase the impact of their organization in the policy arena. Learn how Washington really works and discover skills you can use to advocate for your students, including getting them involved in the process.

Download the slides here.

Advocacy Institute 201 (2017)

In a follow up to NCAN's 101 Advocacy Institute, this presentation outlines in more detail how to influence your elected officials with a specific focus on how to schedule, prepare for, conduct, and follow up after a meeting with an elected official.

Download the slides here.

E-Learning Module: Advocacy for College Access and Success

The Advocacy for College Access and Success unit of NCAN's Fundamentals for College Access & Success Providers online training platform helps nonprofits understand how they can advocate, and even lobby, for government action that can help increase college access and success for students.

The goal of this unit is to learn what nonprofits can legally do as well as the best strategies for achieving those goals. Topics covered include the difference between advocacy and lobbying, how to be an effective advocate, and how to prepare for a meeting with an elected official.

Register here (by scrolling to the bottom of the page).

Recess Meeting Toolkit

“Recess” makes most educators think of the time elementary school students head to the playground. But to Congress, it’s the unofficial name for “district work period” – the time when members of Congress leave the Capitol and head home to meet with constituents and work from the district or state offices. NCAN encourages members to meet with their elected officials or invite them to attend program events during this time. Meeting at home, and/or having them speak at or observe an event, provides the opportunity to talk about the challenges your students are facing – but also to let the students speak for themselves (without the hassle of traveling to Washington). The best opportunities are over the spring recess (usually covering Easter and Passover), August recess, and fall recess (usually including Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). A combined 2020 calendar is available here.

Download the toolkit here.