Why You Can Lobby
Foundation officials often believe they can not participate in Foundations on the Hill or District Days because the law does not permit them to lobby. While Congress has placed restrictions on foundations in terms of lobbying for legislation, this does not mean that grantmakers cannot speak to an elected official. Foundations are also allowed to lobby directly on "self-defense" issues - issues that might affect the foundation's existence, powers, duties, exempt status, etc.
The Council, the Forum, and ACR encourage foundations to build relationships with congressional offices by educating them about the value of foundations. Many members of Congress and their staff are unaware of the role foundations play in their districts. Foundations on the Hill and District Days are great opportunities to explain your foundation's mission and work and to demonstrate its importance to your lawmaker's constituents.
Below are some additional resources on relationship building and the exceptions to the lobbying restrictions. If you are still unsure of what you can and can't say, please contact the Council on Foundation's Public Policy Department with your questions.
Legal Considerations when Meeting with Legislators and Legislative Staff
Legal Services and Standards Department. Council on Foundations, Arlington, VA.
Legal Questions on Meeting with Candidates, Site Visits
Legal Services and Standards Department. Council on Foundations, Washington, D.C.
Actions That Are Not Lobbying
Foundations and Lobbying: Safe Ways to Affect Public Policy
What the Law Allows
Troyer, Thomas A. and Robert A. Boisture. Caplin and Drysdale
Foundation News and Commentary, Volume 38. No. 3, May/June 1997.