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Weitz Insights

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General | November 14, 2023

Helping Grantees Educate Our Policymakers

By Katie Weitz, PhD

This blog is estimated to take 2 minutes to read.

Being in the nonprofit space, we are almost all advocates of one kind or another. Our mission drives us to make the world a better place, and to keep our organizations afloat, we have to share the good work with other people. But when we think about political advocacy, or sharing our experience with policy makers, sometimes it gets intimidating. While many nonprofits hire lobbyists, have lawyers on staff, or even a policy team, most of the community-based organizations we support do not. We also know that private philanthropy can never replace or even compare to the resources at the government level. However, most every nonprofit executive we know is up to their neck in mission-oriented issues that they face squarely every day, and policymakers can feel really disconnected from the work.

To demystify the why and how of advocacy, Renee Fry, Policy Director at Lozier Foundation and consultant for Weitz Family Foundation, is working with Institute for Public Leadership to present a series of workshops walking grantees through city, county, and state governing bodies. In our first session, twenty-five nonprofit and grassroots leaders met to review what is the purview of the county commissioners, school board members, and city council. When do they meet, and how do you get a chance to speak at their meetings? This exposition was followed by real life case studies of how Heartland Workers Center brought the community’s vision of Brown Park to life, Gifford Park Neighborhood Saved Yates, and OTOC’s sewer separation made an impression with its Go Ask Hal postcard campaign! Finally, we closed the day meeting current elected officials and the Mayor’s chief of staff. Participants seemed genuinely pleased with these encounters.

Some of the big takeaways of the day were:

  • Citizens only have power if they are organized. But also, never go to power *for* a solution, go with a solution.
  • Know your allies and build relationships in-person. Relationships are not built via email, or through public testimony.

I am looking forward to our upcoming session on the Unicameral. Getting in the weeds about how and when bills are introduced, prioritized, and voted on, learning about budget process and where and when to get engaged, and how to find information I am looking for…this week it was the TANF spend down proposal. It will be an engaging and interactive session, we will meet several state senators as well. If you are interested in learning more about how to engage with policy makers, consider any of the trainings for Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, or Alliance for Justice. There are many resources available, and we look forward to working with you.


A large group of people are seated at U-shaped tables and are facing the presenter at the front of the room. There are large white pieces of paper affixed to the green chalkboard with handwritten community meeting notes.

Equity | February 14, 2023

Your D.E.I.A Work is Not Anti-Oppressive

By Mynesha Spencer, Inclusion Strategist

This is a guest blog from Mynesha Spencer, Inclusion Strategist […]

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