Advocacy by Public Foundations - Alliance for Justice

Advocacy by Public Foundations


Natalie Roetzel Ossenfort, Victor Rivera Labiosa, Quyen Tu

Public foundations play an important role in our communities by providing critical funding to nonprofit organizations. But, did you know that they can also engage in advocacy campaigns and work with legislators and other government officials to impact public policy? On this episode, we’ll dive-in to the rules public foundations need to know when advancing their missions through advocacy. 

Our Attorneys for This Episode:

Natalie Roetzel Ossenfort Victor Rivera Labiosa Quyen Tu


Public Foundations (like community foundations) are a type of public charity!  

  • This means that while they are not permitted to support or oppose candidates for public office and must remain nonpartisan, 
  • They ARE allowed to lobby within their lobbying limits and can engage in other, non-lobbying, advocacy as well. 
    • Types of non-lobbying advocacy 

There are two tests set out in the tax code that public (community) foundations may use to measure how much lobbying they are permitted to engage in. 

  1. Insubstantial Part Test 
  2. 501(h) Expenditure Test 


  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation 
  • Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation 
  • Texas Women’s Foundation