Changemakers Advocacy Paper
Monday, 3rd December 2007 at 12:37 pm
Changemakers has produced a paper to help clarify some of the issues surrounding the funding of advocacy in Australia.
It’s claimed that many grant-makers shy away from funding advocacy for fear of losing their charitable tax status.
However, Changemakers Australia believes that the laws surrounding what can legitimately be funded are less restrictive than many people assume.
Changemakers Australia (CMA) aims to encourage, educate and resource philanthropic organisations and individuals to work for significant and long-term change through effective partnership with groups experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.
CMA believes that to be really effective, philanthropy should direct its support to activity designed to address the underlying causes of social ills, such as poverty, inequality, abuse of human rights and environmental degradation.
The report called Funding Advocacy for Social Change: Clarifying the Rules for Grantmakers was launched by lawyer and the former Victorian Public Advocate, Julian Gardner.
Gardner stressed that while funding of direct help to those in need is important, it is equally vital that grant-makers support systemic advocacy.
He emphasised that often it is the multiple experiences of individual advocacy that are used to formulate proposals to change policies, laws, guidelines, funding patterns etc in ways that eliminate or reduce disadvantage to the benefit of many.
He says for example, finding a roof for a homeless person is important but so too is advocacy to bring about an end to homelessness.
Regrettably the uncertainties about what grants can be made within the laws applying to tax-deductible donations and deductible gift recipient status can deter some grant-makers from supporting systemic advocacy.
Gardner that he was excited about this paper because it gave brief, clear and useable information that would make it a lot easier for funders to advocacy for social change.
Foundations and community organisations seeking to change the system itself through lobbying for law reform or new government policies need to be fully informed about the ATO guidelines and pay close attention to them.
The Changemakers report aims to give grantmakers a clearer idea of where the legal lines are drawn.
Grantmakers need to decide their approach to the advocacy issue, preferably with legal advice.
The paper says funding advocacy is vital to the development or refinement of public policy that will enable charitable organisations to work more effectively with their target groups. It can also make governments more accountable to the common good and allow under-represented constituencies a voice in the political process.
This is also increasingly applicable to corporations as well.
As one supporter of advocacy initiatives stated:
It could be argued that not funding advocacy may actually constitute a neglect of an important responsibility of social change philanthropy: to stimulate public awareness and debate of the issues that affect people’s well being.