Advocate for My Mission

Don’t be fooled! Nonprofits can engage in advocacy and lobbying for public policy without jeopardizing your tax-exempt status. Advocacy is an important way to advance your cause through activities like legislative monitoring, position papers, policy research, grassroots organizing, public education, organizing networks and coalitions, and lobbying.

We’ve organized the resources we offer to help you advocate for your mission based on wherever you fall in your nonprofit lifecycle. For a summary of our resources, download our Annotated Ed Packet and Board Room Quick Tips overviews.  Download Resource.

Typically, start-ups will only be involved in advocacy if the focus of your mission is systems/policy change, grassroots organizing, and the like. That said, all nonprofit board members should be aware of the rules for charitable lobbying. It’s also important to introduce yourself and your mission to your local policy makers (city council, county council, mayor, etc), so get out there and start making connections!

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The Standards for Excellence Code provides guidance on advocacy, "Nonprofits should represent the interests of the people they serve through public education and public policy advocacy, as well as by encouraging board members, staff, volunteers, and stakeholders to participate in the public affairs of the community. When appropriate to advance the organization’s mission, nonprofits should engage in promoting public participation in community affairs and elections. As such, they should communicate in an effective manner to educate, inform, and engage the public." See the Code's advocacy benchmarks.

Reach out to your representatives to introduce yourself and your mission! Find Your Representatives.

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The “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy” educational resource packet covers the difference between advocacy and lobbying; allowable lobbying activity; registration and disclosure of lobbying activity; developing an advocacy policy for your nonprofit; non-partisanship and more. Members, login to the Member Portal and search “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy.”

Your organization should have an advocacy policy in place to define the topics you’ll advocate for and your decision-making process. You should be thinking about recruiting board members who care about policy change and identifying a staff member or volunteer responsible for leading your policy work. You should seek out and build relationships with other organizations or networks that share your policy objectives.

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Join the Nonprofit Development Center for training, resources, and consulting related to advocating for your mission. It's free to participate thanks to support from the Maryland Department of Commerce. Learn more and apply. 

Create an advocacy policy for your organization! Our downloadable "Developing an Advocacy Policy for your Organization" presentation defines policy vs. advocacy, explains what an advocacy policy is, and helps make the case for creating one for your organization. It also walks you through building your policy issues and roles, and your advocacy policy process. Most importantly, it helps you remain non-partisan in the interest of retaining your tax-exempt status. Download Resource.

If your nonprofit will be lobbying, familiarize yourself with the federal, state, and local laws to ensure your tax-exempt status is unaffected. View rules on lobbying and political activities and read our downloadable resource, "Can Nonprofit Organizations Lobby?"  Download Resource.

Get connected to groups that are working on the issues important to your nonprofit's mission. Contact Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director, for more information.

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Turn your people into public policy influencers! The Advocacy 101 customized training will help you:

  • Learn how to set advocacy goals and objectives
  • Understand and influence the policy-making process
  • Understand the basics of government budgets and fiscal policy
  • Avoid legal issues for tax-exempt policy advocates

Contact our consultants for more information.

MEMBER EXCLUSIVE

The “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy” educational resource packet covers the difference between advocacy and lobbying; allowable lobbying activity; registration and disclosure of lobbying activity; developing an advocacy policy for your nonprofit; non-partisanship and more. Members, login to the Member Portal and search “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy.”

A solid first step for getting involved in public policy is to develop a policy to guide public policy or advocacy decisions and activities. Download a sample Advocacy Policy to customize for your nonprofit. Members, login and search “Sample Advocacy Policy.”

Advocacy is a part of your mission and goals. You have developed strong relationships with policy makers and may have an advocacy professional on staff or an advocacy consultant. You have achieved recognition as an effective advocate and may be regarded as a resource by others. You have a network of coalition partners and may play a leading role in campaigns.

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The goal of public policy must be to assure that across our state, Marylanders regardless of age, race, religion, socio-economic background, gender identity, location, or disability, can share in a prosperous and inclusive economy. To further that goal and secure a high quality of life for all, Maryland Nonprofits has identified five public policy priorities. 

Have thoughts about where Maryland Nonprofits should focus its policy and advocacy efforts? Join the Policy Council - contact Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director.

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Increase your capacity to influence public policy and become part of an active network of nonprofit advocacy leaders. Work with our consultants to offer an Advocacy Leaders customized training. You’ll take away an understanding of the legal rules and limitations for nonprofit advocacy and a clear process for setting goals, making decisions, and taking action.

Changes in public policy could trigger a crisis in some organizations, for example, if your largest revenue stream is eliminated or your business model is disrupted. A crisis may result when your organization’s policy work is at odds with a significant group of your stakeholders. Organizations in a broader decline/crisis may need to manage stakeholder relationships in the public policy arena.

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If you’re navigating a public policy controversy, contact Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director, for advice and support.

Re-familiarize yourself with the federal, state, and local laws to ensure your tax-exempt status is unaffected. View rules on lobbying and political activities. 

MEMBER DISCOUNT

It may be time to revisit your organization's advocacy policy... The “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy” educational resource packet covers the difference between advocacy and lobbying; allowable lobbying activity; registration and disclosure of lobbying activity; developing an advocacy policy for your nonprofit; non-partisanship and more. Members, login to the Member Portal and search “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy.”

Your organization may have had some important policy wins, however your infrastructure needs to support ongoing advocacy efforts. With your board, review the importance of public policy to your mission: refresh your advocacy policy and policy priorities. Reestablish your connections with associations and networks that advocate on issues related to your mission. Rebuild relationships and reinforce your priorities and messages with policy makers and stakeholders.

FREE

For advice and assistance, contact Henry Bogdan, Public Policy Director

Create an advocacy policy for your organization! Our downloadable "Developing an Advocacy Policy for your Organization" presentation defines policy vs. advocacy, explains what an advocacy policy is, and helps make the case for creating one for your organization. It also walks you through building your policy issues and roles, and your advocacy policy process. Most importantly, it helps you remain non-partisan in the interest of retaining your tax-exempt status. Download Resource. .

If your nonprofit will be lobbying, familiarize yourself with the federal, state, and local laws to ensure your tax-exempt status is unaffected. View rules on lobbying and political activities.

MEMBER DISCOUNT

Increase your capacity to influence public policy and become part of an active network of nonprofit advocacy leaders. Work with our consultants to offer an Advocacy Leaders customized training. You’ll take away an understanding of the legal rules and limitations for nonprofit advocacy and a clear process for setting goals, making decisions, and taking action.

MEMBER EXCLUSIVE

The “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy” educational resource packet covers the difference between advocacy and lobbying; allowable lobbying activity; registration and disclosure of lobbying activity; developing an advocacy policy for your nonprofit; non-partisanship and more. Members, login to the Member Portal and search “Advancing the Mission Through Public Policy.”

Guide your public policy or advocacy decisions and activities with intent. Download a sample Advocacy Policy to customize for your nonprofit. Members, login and search “Sample Advocacy Policy.”

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Once you complete this form you will receive an email from "Maryland Nonprofits info@mdnonprofit.org" containing your document download. Be sure to check your other or junk folder if you don't receive the resource right away.


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Once you complete this form you will receive an email from "Maryland Nonprofits info@mdnonprofit.org" containing your document download. Be sure to check your other or junk folder if you don't receive the resource right away.


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Free Resource:

Sign-up to download your free resource.

Once you complete this form you will receive an email from "Maryland Nonprofits info@mdnonprofit.org" containing your document download. Be sure to check your other or junk folder if you don't receive the resource right away.


Job Role:

Free Resource:

Sign-up to download your free resource.

Once you complete this form you will receive an email from "Maryland Nonprofits info@mdnonprofit.org" containing your document download. Be sure to check your other or junk folder if you don't receive the resource right away.


Job Role:

Free Resource: