Making the Sausage in Albany: An Artisanal Cookbook for Funders

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Making the Sausage in Albany: An Artisanal Cookbook for Funders

by Michael Hamill Remaley, Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Communications, Philathropy New York
This piece was originally published as the feature article of the September 2017 New York PhilanthroPost Policy Edition

The trend toward significant social change occurring at the state and local level is now widely recognized and has led many funders to the conclusion that the road to national change is through state capitols. And while awareness of the byzantine nature of New York politics is high, funders’ specific knowledge the levers of power, who controls those levers and how to connect with the right leaders remains elusive to most of us in philanthropy.  

Lack of understanding of how policy gets made in Albany and New York City Hall has real consequences for funders aiming to support advocacy campaigns on a vast array of issues.  For example, Philanthropy New York has been working for the past two years to support funders interested in national justice reform, many of whom are now focused on the effort to close Rikers Island as a model for reforming bail, sentencing, selective policing, decriminalization, mental health treatment and countless other interrelated issues that require action among state and city officials in executive and legislative branches.  

Whether you are funding in justice reform, education, health, immigration, economic development, workforce training, racial justice or just about any other issue, there has never been a better time for an in-depth training to understand the intricacies of the New York legislative process.  With “Understanding NY City & State’s Legislative Landscape: An Overview for Funders with the Advocacy Institute,” Philanthropy New York is offering members a special new training series in full-day sessions taking place over three consecutive Thursdays in November.     

This training – developed specifically around the learning needs of funders who make grants to nonprofits engaging in advocacy work – includes the Advocacy Institute’s core training program that goes deep into how legislation is developed and who wields power in New York’s state and city government. The training also includes modules specifically for funders to:

•    Understand better their own role in supporting legislative advocacy
•    Review the legal parameters limiting (and freeing) foundations’ capacity to be direct participants in campaigns
•    Gain an introduction to a Campaign Assessment Tool to evaluate the nuances of legislative campaigns

A commitment to developing collaborative networks, building trust across organizations working on different issue areas, and solidifying an understanding of the dynamics of privilege and oppression in legislative advocacy are important objectives interwoven into the three-day training and post-training communications.

Funders completing the training and networking with their peers in this space will be better able to (1) ask the right questions of grantees who are engaged in advocacy work; (2) understand the timing of legislative cycles and how advocacy campaigns should be structured to achieve long-term goals; and (3) grow their network of funder connections supporting advocacy work in related fields.

This training is open to Philanthropy New York members in both operational and grantmaking roles in their organizations. We encourage cross-departmental teams to attend and work as pairs during this process. 

If you or others in your organization are interested in this advocacy training series, I would like to hear from you, even if you are unsure who from your organization should attend.  Please email me to express interest in the training.  I would be very happy to talk with you and ensure that the series is right for you and the appropriate people within your organization. 

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