Bolder Advocacy Workshops For Nonprofits and Foundations - Alliance for Justice

Bolder Advocacy Workshops For Nonprofits and Foundations

Elevate your cause with our powerhouse training programs designed to transform your organization into a dynamic force for change. Unleash your advocacy potential and sign up for success today.

Empowering Nonprofits through Tailored Trainings for Effective Advocacy

Bolder Advocacy has provided trainings to thousands of nonprofit organizations. We work with nonprofit boards, staff, and volunteers to improve their understanding of the legal issues involved in influencing public policy advocacy so they can maximize their advocacy and election-related activities, learn what it takes to engage in effective advocacy, and confidently engage in their advocacy campaigns.

After your training, you can follow up with any questions you may have as part of our free technical assistance program. Please email us at, click here, or call us at 866-675-6229 for more information.

Please note that we are currently experiencing a high volume of workshop requests. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, and we may not be able to accommodate requests with less than 6-8 weeks’ lead time due to staff availability.

Below is a list of workshops offered by Bolder Advocacy. These workshops can be customized and combined depending on your organization’s specific needs and the intended audience. Many of these workshops are also available in Spanish.

Advocacy and Lobbying for Nonprofits
Public Charities Can Lobby: How Your 501(c)(3) Can Influence Policy for the Greater Good

When our laws and policies work for us, our communities win. Nonprofits have a close-up view of community needs and can and should take advantage of their right to influence law and policy. After this workshop, you will have a clear understanding of what advocacy activities your 501(c)(3) can engage in, what communications count as lobbying, and how to maximize your non-lobbying advocacy.  

Participants will learn:

  • How federal tax law permits lobbying for charities and how lobbying is defined;  
  • One easy step most charities can take to maximize the amount they’re allowed to spend on lobbying;  
  • Yearly lobbying limits for charities;  
  • Tips for taking advantage of the narrow definitions of lobbying – which will help charities make the most of their lobbying limit; and  
  • How to apply these rules to ballot measure activities.  

This session complements Being a Player: A Guide to the IRS Lobbying Regulations for Advocacy Charities.

Recordkeeping Best Practices: How Your 501(c)(3)’s Recordkeeping Can Enhance Your Advocacy Potential

Recordkeeping and reporting compliance is an important strategy for effective advocacy. Proper recordkeeping is essential to meeting your advocacy goals. It can help your organization comply with filing obligations, obtain funding, inform strategic planning, and stay focused on your mission.

Participants will learn:

  • How to track your lobbying time and expenses so that your 501(c)(3) organization stays within its lobbying limits;  
  • How a 501(c)(3) reports its lobbying to the IRS, such as on the Form 990 or Form 990-EZ;  
  • How tracking and reporting varies depending on whether a charity measures its lobbying under the insubstantial part test or the 501(h) expenditure test;  
  • How state and local law may require additional tracking and reporting; and  
  • Various options for keeping track of lobbying activities and expenditures.  

This session complements Keeping Track: A Guide to Recordkeeping for Advocacy Charities.

Influencing Federal Policy? Learn How the Lobbying Disclosure Act Affects Nonprofits

Any organization that works to influence federal legislation, regulations, nominations, contracts, or permits needs to be aware of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). The LDA imposes potential registration and reporting obligations on individuals and entities, including nonprofits that lobby various federal officials. This session provides an overview of the LDA and what it means for your nonprofit organization.

Participants will learn:

  • The types of lobbying and administrative advocacy covered by the LDA;
  • The thresholds for registering and reporting under the LDA;
  • When and what forms to file; and
  • The rules that regulate making gifts to members of Congress, the cabinet and executive branch employees.

For more information, please see Understanding the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Advocacy During an Election Year
Nonpartisan Advocacy: How 501(c)(3)s Can Educate and Advocate During Election Season 

Though public charities must remain nonpartisan, they have a critical role to play throughout the election cycle! Not only can public charities engage in issue advocacy during election season, but they can also conduct robust voter and candidate education campaigns and mobilize the public to get out the vote. After this session, you will have a better understanding of how to safely engage in nonpartisan advocacy during an election.  

Participants will learn:

  • How you can continue to advocate for your issues during election years;  
  • How you can educate the public through candidate forums and questionnaires;  
  • How you can respond to candidate statements objectively;  
  • How you can conduct nonpartisan voter registration and ensure get-out-the-vote efforts are conducted legally; 
  • How you can safely support or oppose ballot measures without being partisan; and 
  • How staff and volunteers’ partisan activities in their personal time can be kept separate from their activities on behalf of the organization.  

This session complements The Rules of the Game: A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations.

Seize the Initiative: How Your Nonprofit Can Influence Policy Through Ballot Measure Campaigns 

On the frontlines of participatory democracy, nonprofits are increasingly using ballot measures as a creative way to move policies and community funding forward. Having a thorough understanding of the laws that govern nonprofit participation in initiatives and referenda is an important strategy to effective advocacy.

Participants will learn:

  • How a 501(c)(3) organization can support or oppose ballot measures;
  • How ballot measure expenditures apply to a 501(c)(3)’s lobbying limits;
  • How a 501(c)(3) organization can work in a coalition with a 501(c)(4) on an initiative;
  • How state ballot measure laws may affect nonprofit involvement in ballot measure campaigns;and
  • How ballot measure campaigns can be funded.

This session complements Ballot Measures and Public Charities: Yes, You Can Influence that Vote.

Maximize Your Advocacy: Tips for Your Social Media and Online Presence/Campaigns
Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age: Rules That Apply to Your Social Media and Other Online Activities

Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the avenues available to nonprofits to communicate their messages to an ever-wider audience. While the communication methods offered by social media may be new, the rules that govern advocacy by nonprofits have not changed.  If your organization utilizes Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media platform, this workshop is for you!

Participants will learn:

  • How your nonprofit can take advantage of social media while staying in compliance with laws that govern advocacy;
  • How to treat social media and other communications in the context of lobbying limits for 501(c)(3) organizations; and
  • How 501(c)(3) organizations can avoid violating campaign intervention rules during an election season.

This session complements Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age: The Law of Online Lobbying and Election-Related Activities.

How Funders Can Engage in and Support Advocacy
Investing in Change: Foundation Support for Lobbying and Other Advocacy

Private and public foundations can play an important role in advocacy by engaging in advocacy themselves and funding their grantees to advocate on their issues. After this workshop, your foundation will have a clear understanding of the kinds of advocacy activities you can safely engage in and best practices for grantmaking to give your grantees the most flexibility under the law for their advocacy efforts. Not sure how to make the case for funding advocacy?  Uncertain whether you can fund grantees that lobby?  Wondering whether your public or private foundation can speak out on a particular issue?  This training answers these questions and more! The workshop is designed for foundation staff and trustees.

Participants will learn:

  •  Why public and private foundations should support advocacy;
  • An overview of activities that constitute advocacy and public policy work;
  • Various advocacy roles for foundations;
  • The tax code’s definitions of lobbying;
  • Activities that are exceptions to the definitions of lobbying, including those which private foundations can engage in;
  • Rules for private and public foundation grants to nonprofits that lobby, including general support, specific project, and multi-year grants; and
  • Grant agreement language that permits support for policy work.

This session complements Investing in Change: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Advocacy.

Foundations and Election-Related Activities

If you work for a foundation that wants to engage in and/or fund election-related activities, you need this training!  It reviews the federal tax rules governing public and private foundation support for election-related activities and also explains the types of activities in which foundations may be involved, such as issue advocacy, voter guides,  and candidate debates and forums. In addition, the session covers ballot measures and examines the special rules for private foundations and voter registration drives. The workshop is designed for foundation staff and trustees.

Participants will learn:

  • How private and public foundations can fund nonpartisan election-related activities;
  • Special rules for private foundations looking to fund voter registration; and
  • How foundations can conduct civic engagement work.

This session complements Investing in Change: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Advocacy and Foundations and Ballot Measures.

How to Raise $$$ To Fund Your Advocacy Work

501(c)(3)s can advance their missions in several ways, including lobbying. Knowing how to approach foundations to obtain grants that cover advocacy is an art and can tremendously improve a nonprofit’s chances to earn and retain this critical funding. This workshop will help you better understand the rules that apply to various types of foundations so you can work smarter when requesting support for advocacy.

Participants will learn:

  • Why different types of foundations must follow different rules;
  • How those rules affect advocacy grantmaking;
  • What activities foundations may legally fund, and 
  • How to structure grant proposals to obtain support for advocacy campaigns.

This session complements Foundation Advocacy Grants: What Grantees Need to Know.

Planning, Building, and Evaluating Advocacy
Ready, Set, ACTion: Getting Started with Advocacy Capacity Assessment 

Alliance for Justice’s capacity assessment tools – ACT! And ACT! Quick – are designed to help groups become more effective by supporting their ability to carry out and sustain advocacy efforts. This interactive workshop introduces participants to these self-assessment tools and how they can be used to identify strengths and gaps. Participants will have the opportunity to complete the ACT! Quick tool in English or Spanish during the workshop, as well as share ideas and best practices on how to strengthen organizational capacity.

Participants will learn:

  • How ACT! and ACT! Quick can be used by nonprofits, coalitions, and foundations to measure advocacy capacity  
  • How other organizations have used these tools to maximize their impact 
  • Tips on how to use organizational capacity assessment tools effectively to drive strategic growth 

Evaluating and Strengthening Your Advocacy

Figuring out how to evaluate your advocacy doesn’t have to be hard! This workshop is designed to help nonprofits and foundations get started with advocacy evaluation in practical ways. Throughout the session, participants will gain exposure to a broad range of user-friendly – and mostly free! – evaluation tools and resources designed to help with everything from developing a theory of change to putting together an evaluation plan. The session also includes an extended overview of Alliance for Justice’s advocacy capacity assessment tools – ACT! and ACT! Quick – which are designed to help organizations and coalitions understand their “readiness” to engage in advocacy efforts.

Participants will learn:

  • The “fundamentals” of advocacy evaluation theory and practice 
  • Practical tips and resources on how to build capacity to evaluate and advocate 
  • Where to find user-friendly advocacy evaluation tools and resources 
Advocacy for 501(c)(4)s, Unions, and Coalitions
Should Our Organization Create a 501(c)(4)?

Many 501(c)(3) organizations want to do more than their tax status allows, which is where 501(c)(4)s come in. If you’re curious about the advantages of creating a new 501(c)(4) organization, this workshop will help.

Participants will learn:

  • The various advocacy activities 501(c)(4) organizations can engage in, including lobbying and partisan election-related activities;
  • How affiliated 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations can work together;
  • Tips for staying in compliance with your 501(c)(4) status; and
  • What kinds of election-related activities and independent expenditures are permissible for 501(c)(4)s, and how much of this activity is allowed.

This session complements The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations.

Maximizing Your Advocacy: The Advantages of 501(c)(4)s

This training will provide an overview of how a 501(c)(4) organization can effectively – and legally – promote issues important to the community it serves.

Participants will learn:

  • How federal tax law applies to 501(c)(4)s’ lobbying and election-related activities;
  • What kinds of election-related activities and independent expenditures are permissible for (c)(4)s, and how much of this activity is allowed; and
  • How state lobbying disclosure and campaign finance laws apply to 501(c)(4) organizations.

This session complements The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations.

Working Together: Building Nonpartisan Partnerships with 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, Unions and Political Organizations

Different types of organizations are increasingly collaborating on lobbying, voter engagement, and other advocacy activities, but they need to be aware of the rules governing organizations with different tax-exempt statuses.  If your organization wants to engage in coalition work with multiple types of tax-exempt organizations, this workshop will help explain how different types of nonprofit organizations can work together while staying in compliance with the law.

Participants will learn:

  • The different roles of 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, unions, and political organizations;
  • The federal tax rules affecting how these organizations can work together;
  • The legal separations necessary between affiliated organizations, such as funding and fundraising constraints; and
  • Permissible joint activities of different types of nonprofits, including election-year activities.

This session complements The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations.

California Advocacy Laws
How California Nonprofits Can Influence Ballot Measure Campaigns

Repeat after us: policy is decided at the ballot box in California. Ballot measure advocacy by nonprofits isn’t just legal – it’s important to everyday life, powerful for creating change, and fundamental to democracy. This training will equip nonprofit organizations with useful tools and tips to advocate boldly and safely around ballot measures, and it will help them better understand ballot measure reporting requirements.

Participants will learn:

  • How much ballot measure advocacy is allowed under IRS rules,  
  • One simple step you can take to maximize your public charity’s ability to participate in ballot measure advocacy,  
  • Tips for staying nonpartisan; 
  • The California ballot measure disclosure reporting laws, including what types of activities and expenditures give rise to different types of reporting needs; and 
  • How to avoid pitfalls and take advantage of different options for raising money for California ballot measure work. 

This session complements Ballot Measure Activities Exempt from California Disclosure Laws and Supporting or Opposing Ballot Measures in California: What Do You Need to Disclose?

Lobbying in the Golden State: How California’s Disclosure Laws Affect Nonprofits When Lobbying for Lasting Change  

True: Nonprofits can safely, legally, and effectively engage in state-level advocacy and lobbying work in California.

Also True: California nonprofits need to understand the rules that apply to their lobbying activities under state and federal law.

This training is designed for all tax-exempt organizations doing policy work at the state-level in California. 

Participants will learn:

  • Who must register as a lobbyist in California; 
  • When an organization (or its employees) should start filing California lobbying disclosure reports; and
  • The definitions of activities that are considered “lobbying” under California state law and how those definitions differ from IRS lobbying definitions. 

This session complements Shaping the Future: A Compliance Guide for Nonprofits Influencing Public Policy in California

Texas Advocacy Laws
Lobbying in the Lone Star State: How Texas Lobbying Disclosure Rules Affect Nonprofits When Lobbying for Lasting Change

True: Nonprofits can safely, legally, and effectively engage in state-level advocacy and lobbying work in Texas.

Also True: Texas nonprofits need to understand the rules that apply to their lobbying activities under state and federal law.

This training is designed for all tax-exempt organizations doing policy work at the state-level in Texas.

Participants will learn:

  • Who must register as a lobbyist in Texas; 
  • When organizations (or their employees) should register as lobbyists and start filing Texas lobbying disclosure reports; and 
  • The definitions of activities that are considered “lobbying” under Texas state law and how those definitions differ from the IRS lobbying definitions.