Reflections on Engagement: Lessons From Philanthropic-Government Relations in Policy Reform

Reflections on Engagement: Lessons From Philanthropic-Government Relations in Policy Reform

Efforts to improve social policy through philanthropic engagement with government requires patience and persistence, flexible funding, knowledge of what 501(c)(3) organizations can do legally to create a policy environment conducive to reform, and the courage to exploit those tools, a report from Atlantic Philanthropies and the Center for Evaluation Innovation's Atlas Learning Project finds. The report, Reflections on Engagement: Lessons From Philanthropic-Government Relations in Policy Reform (17 pages, PDF), highlights key elements of its successful advocacy work in Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States, and Vietnam, including acquiring deep knowledge of the social, political, and economic ecosystems at all levels; understanding the opportunities and limitations inherent in those systems; building in time to develop trust among different parties; and codifying formal relationships. According to the report, advocacy strategies, in order to be effective, need to have clear and specific goals; a broad range of champions and allies; a nuanced approach focused on listening, learning, and collaboratively developed solutions; and a big-picture focus on the overall issue rather than any single element of the approach.