To help nonprofits and foundations better understand laws and regulations about advocating on behalf of the causes they support, the Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga held an advocacy workshop conducted by Abby Levine from Alliance for Justice.
The advocacy workshop was attended by more than 60 individuals representing organizations such as Chattanooga Area Food Bank, the Hunter Museum, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, the Tennessee Aquarium and many others. Additionally representatives from The Lyndhurst Foundation, The Benwood Foundation, the Osborne Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga were in attendance.
Serving as legal director of Advocacy Programs at Alliance for Justice, Ms. Levine, led the group through three sessions and covered topics such as how to differentiate lobbying and non-lobbying advocacy activities. Ms. Levine detailed the federal laws governing 501(c)(3) lobbying, including how to calculate annual lobbying limits, definitions for direct and grassroots lobbying, exceptions to the definition of lobbying, and the application of these rules to ballot measure activities.
Ms. Levine referred to the Women’s Fund, recognizing the fact that their advocacy work this year helped pass five pieces of Tennessee legislation related to human trafficking, a key issue for the organization.
Ryan Dalton, director of Operation Broken Silence a nonprofit based in Memphis, also addressed the group to share success stories from his organization. Mr. Dalton, a third-year law student, has been the primary author of human trafficking legislation that successfully passed in Tennessee legislation this session. Mr. Dalton has partnered with the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga and its sister funds in Memphis and Nashville on this endeavor. Mr. Dalton stressed the significance of endurance. “If you influence policy change,” he said, “you’ve made a difference that will reach millions of lives and will last far beyond our own lifetimes.” Mr. Dalton also spoke to a group of the Fund’s key supporters the evening prior to the workshop.
Thanks to funding from The Benwood Foundation, The Women’s Fund was able to offer the advocacy workshop to Chattanooga’s nonprofit and funding community free of charge. The United Way provided the use of their Community Room for the day.