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About the Stand for Your Mission Campaign


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The Stand for Your Mission campaign is a challenge to all nonprofit decision-makers to stand up for the organizations they believe in by actively representing their organization’s mission and values, and creating public will for positive social change.

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About the Stand for Your Mission Campaign

  1. 1. Unleashing the Power of Boards to Create Positive Impact
  2. 2. The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year. — John Foster Dulles, Former Secretary of State
  3. 3. The Challenge Nonprofit organizations are working to address communities’ most complex and challenging issues. But we are forfeiting some of our best opportunities to create solutions. Why? Because those solutions require something that many of us have been told is off-limits. Advocacy.
  4. 4. The Truth Our organizations – and each of us as nonprofit leaders – have a legal right to stand up for our missions. To educate influencers and the community about the importance of our work. To inform policy-makers about the impact of their decisions on our communities. To find real solutions to community problems. That’s what our missions need.
  5. 5. Advocacy is… • appealing to the zoning board to get permission to have a farmer’s market in an underserved neighborhood • requesting a parking variance to allow for a meal truck to serve homeless people in a central location • educating a legislator about the value of funding a job training program for the community • partnering with public agencies to repurpose an unused public building for a youth service program • convening community leaders at times of natural disaster or human crisis to develop solutions for the community and promote healing
  6. 6. What is advocacy? Advocacy is often used as an umbrella term for all different types of policy and political engagement. And that can make things a little confusing. So here’s a quick cheat sheet about the types of advocacy that are a part of the Stand for Your Mission campaign. Broad Advocacy All types of nonprofits are allowed to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about issues that are important to their mission, as long as it doesn’t include information about specific candidates or pieces of legislation, It’s this type of advocacy that is the primary focus of the Stand for Your Mission Campaign. Legislative Lobbying Lobbying means working for or against a specific piece of legislation or ballot measure. Most nonprofits are allowed to engage in a limited amount of legislative lobbying, which can be a very important way to advance – or protect – your organization’s mission and impact. When there’s a big decision being made that will affect your mission, you have a right and responsibility to weigh in. Don’t waste it! Election‐Related Activities Nonprofit organizations may engage in nonpartisan voter registration, education and turnout activities. However, supporting or opposing a specific candidate (or set of candidates or a political party) is never allowed for 501(c)(3) organizations,* and is not what we’re describing as advocacy in the Stand for Your Mission campaign. *501(c)(4), (c)(5) or (c)(6) organizations are allowed to participate in electioneering activities, but only as a secondary activity.
  7. 7. Advocate = Leader Leaders who advocate… see past current realities to… find creative solutions that… serve our communities better. And then they make it happen.
  8. 8. Our Strength There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. We employ more than 10% of the American workforce and represent roughly $1.65 trillion in annual revenues. And we have an estimated 20 million individuals leading our organizations who are some of the most influential, dedicated, and connected leaders our citizenry has. Our board members.
  9. 9. The Reality Only 33% of organizations report that their board members are actively involved in advocating for their missions.* And many organizations aren’t advocating at all. Which begs the question: If advocacy is such a powerful lever for positive change… why aren’t we advocating for our missions? *According to BoardSource’s study, Leading with Intent (2015)
  10. 10. What’s the problem? If board advocacy is such a powerful lever for positive impact, why aren’t we using it? Awareness: Some nonprofit board leaders are not aware of how existing policies are limiting their progress, or how new policies could accelerate it. Understanding: Some nonprofit board leaders don’t understand that their personal participation in their organization’s advocacy efforts would add significant value and influence. Information: Some nonprofit board leaders mistakenly believe that advocacy is illegal or inappropriate for nonprofits.
  11. 11. We are partnering across organizations to create awareness and understanding about the critical importance of nonprofit advocacy – and the board’s role in it. How will we fix it? Who we are:
  12. 12. The Vision An active, engaged, nonprofit and philanthropic sector will result in greater mission impact, thriving communities, and a more vibrant country. We envision a reality where nonprofit and philanthropic missions are fully realized because community leaders hear our voices, understand our arguments, and see our causes as worthy of their best efforts. How do we get there? Advocacy. Twenty million board members standing for the mission of their organizations and helping set priorities in partnership with government rather than waiting for the outcome.
  13. 13. The Goals To change the “norms” of nonprofit and philanthropic board culture and firmly establish advocacy as an expectation for engaged and effective board leadership. To do so, we need leadership and collaboration within and beyond the nonprofit sector that will • bring about a sustainable shift in the understanding and expectations around board engagement in advocacy • move advocacy from an ancillary to an essential role for all board members • strengthen our collective ability to advance the public good
  14. 14. A New Expectation As a part of the Stand for Your Mission campaign, BoardSource is firmly establishing advocacy as an expectation for board members. Here’s how: • The board’s role in advocacy is being highlighted as an essential board function, including in the definitive source for board roles and responsibilities. • Boards are assessing their performance as advocates as a part of BoardSource’s board self-assessment • Training programs for boards, staff and consultants are reinforcing the importance of advocacy as a central board function.
  15. 15. Growing Momentum
  16. 16. What you can do 1. Get started. Download the board discussion guide at 2. Get informed. Jump-start your advocacy efforts with tips and guidelines from our resource center. 3. Get personal. Tell others how board advocacy has made a difference for your organization and the people you serve. 4. Get talking. Tell other nonprofit leaders why we need to stand for our missions! Visit to join the conversation.
  17. 17. Your Mission. Your Voice. #StandForYourMission #AdvocacyNow