Member Spotlight: Tides Advocacy

Member Spotlight


Racial Equity

What is your organization’s issue focus?

Tides Advocacy is a racial and social justice organization focused on building independent power for Black, Indigenous, and people of color through movement building and advocacy work with the goal of collective liberation. As the 501(c)(4) advocacy and political arm of Tides, Tides Advocacy fuels movements as a fiscal sponsor and funder.

What is something your organization is currently prioritizing? Can you tell our readers a little about the goals of the campaign/project?

Tides Advocacy is prioritizing becoming a pro-black 501(c)(4) fiscal sponsor. As a pro-Black fiscal sponsor we are committed to centering the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color led political organizations that are transforming policies and systems at the grassroots level, while also building an infrastructure uniquely purposed to sustain them. Being pro-Black is a framework that acknowledges that Black people have unique experiences that can inform policies and ideas for a radical future that values equality and justice for those most harmed by white supremacy.

Do you have an “Advocacy Tip” to share or “Lesson Learned” while organizing this or other campaigns? Do you have any general words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other staff engaged in advocacy? Speak peer to peer in this response.

An essential tip for advocates is how substantial compliance is to movement work. The biggest thing that can bring our movements down is not reading the fine print. Missed steps add up and can ruin the foundation of work that is critical to the health and vibrancy of our democracy. C4s are a powerful tool and must remain at the forefront of amplifying community voices and values to influence real policy change. We can only do this by ensuring our infrastructures are strong, including supporting local groups in compliance efforts. This includes supporting them as they develop financial and legal systems needed to comply with the law and reporting requirements to keep the work moving – and ensuring that they can consult with good lawyers to protect the dreams and strategies that allow us to move towards the equitable multi-racial democracy we deserve. As cliche as this may sound, compliance is sexy, and we should never forget that it deserves close attention. 

Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy initiative and our Justice program. How has either or both most helped you? How have you worked with either or both?

Bolder Advocacy toolkits are some of the best in the field and have been a critical resource to Tides Advocacy partners and other advocacy organizations. As we know, the ability to have a political voice is quite complicated at the legal and financial levels. So, it is not surprising that many folks shy away from critical lobbying and candidate work out of fear of making a mistake that would result in a loss of their IRS status, being fined, or even being called out. Bolder Advocacy clarifies best practices and provides a solid foundation of how multi-entities (e.g., 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), PACs, etc.) can understand and implement their work while mitigating risk with the guidance of their legal support.   

Who inspires you?

The work of Flint Rising, particularly the leadership of Nayyirah Shariff, has been truly inspiring. All the water justice work Flint Rising does in both the public light and the shadows is inspirational. Nayyirah is relentless energy and advocacy is critical ensuring the people of Flint, Michigan, have access to clean water – a fundamental right we all should have in the US. As a black leader in the environmental space, Nayyirah has given the directly impacted working-class folks in the city of Flint a platform to demand the rights they must have and a political voice that is honored by state and local governments.