Holly Bullard
November 24, 2020

Nonprofits Can, and Should, Lobby for Policies That Drive Community Impact

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Next Tuesday, December 1, is Giving Tuesday — a worldwide day to focus on giving to the nonprofits and causes that make a difference. Giving money is essential of course, especially amid an economic crisis that has hit nonprofits especially hard. But just as important is that people give their voice to the causes they care about and ensure that nonprofits and charities understand how valuable their voice and frontline experience is to make better public policy.

From food banks informing nutrition policy, to children’s charities voicing support for education funding, to mental health providers helping to craft legislation, laws are better when community organizations can provide their valuable insight. Nonprofits’ missions sometimes require them to take a step into the policy advocacy arena to “move the needle” on community impact. Thankfully, 501(c)(3)s can lobby — advocate for a specific policy directly with legislators or ask community members to appeal to their elected officials for a policy change — with certain limitations, and public policies are better for it.

As a 501(c)(3) policy-focused non-profit, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) has expertise on the ways in which nonprofits can lobby, and how to do it effectively, which is why FPI has put together a one-page Advocacy Toolkit aimed at non-profits and their allies. The Toolkit outlines strategies to engage board members, donors, and program participants in the advocacy and legislator education process.

In 2020, the worst health and economic crisis in a century has reinforced that not only is it okay for nonprofits to advocate, but that they should view it as a key tool to achieve their missions.

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