Colorado Philanthropy & Election Engagement

Monday, October 3, 2022

In early October, Philanthropy Colorado hosted an advocacy learning program
How Colorado Philanthropy is Engaging in State & Local Elections. Watch the Video.

A key goal of our advocacy and policy leadership and support is to highlight a broad range of policy opportunities for grantmakers and to encourage our members to leverage advocacy and policy opportunities. Policy engagement, particularly when related to elections, is often equated with lobbying, an effort to influence policymakers on specific legislation. However, lobbying is only one of many election engagement strategies for funders, which include:

  • supporting on-going, accurate media coverage of elections, ballot issues and elected officials

    Colorado Media Project pools funds from several Colorado funders to support the local news ecosystem. Their “why” includes “We commission research, share learning, and leverage our collective influence to bring more knowledge, allies and resources and better public policies and professional practices into the movement to strengthen and reimagine local news and build a healthier, more solutions-focused public square.”
  • supporting nonpartisan voter registration and turnout

    The Community Resource Center’s The Participation Project partnered with 45 human service organizations in 2020 to help them conduct nonpartisan voter registration and pledge-to-vote campaigns for their clients.

    Rose Community Foundation funded 15 diverse organizations working to expand voter participation in a nonpartisan manner and help ensure all community voices are well-represented on Election Day.
  • driving public education on elections and voting

Nonprofits like Just Vote Colorado provide helpful public guidance about how to register and vote, while some groups target key populations, such as AARP’s help for seniors with How to Vote in Colorado’s 2022 Elections.

  • promoting public education on issues and candidates without position-taking

    As a private foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation publishes a Local Ballot Measure Tracker to drive public education on ballot issues without taking positions on the issues.  

  • convening, training and coalition-building around elections and issues

    Aspen Community Foundation hosts a Cradle to Career Giving Network that meets to learn from experts and participate in peer conversations about policy and other options to improve the lives of children and families in the region.

  • policy research and data collection

    With support from local foundations, research organizations like Common Sense Institute release valuable analysis of policy issues, such as a bi-partisan report on Crime that may inform future policy.

  • position-taking, ballot guides and lobbying

    Some Colorado community foundations take positions and lobby for passage of legislation, such as The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 2022 Legislative Priorities which include positions on three current ballot measures.
    Rose Community Foundation has published a 2022 Ballot Guide.  

    Policy work is also advanced through grantmaking, as outlined in this overview from Caring for Colorado Foundation on their Public Policy Advocacy grant support.   
  • rulemaking and regulatory engagement after passage 

Colorado foundation staff help inform implementation of legislation, such as new regulations and guidance issued on Colorado’s recently passed Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Program.

Don’t miss The State Debate between Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Republican challenger Heidi Ganahl on October 16, 2022, which is sponsored by El Pomar and will be live-streamed from their Penrose House in Colorado Springs.


Working on advocacy & policy efforts? Contact Jan Brennan about joining the Policy Funders peer group.

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