En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Alliance for Justice
Subject: Strategic Policy Advocacy
Type: Media Coverage

Spotlight: Daphne Foundation’s Yvonne L. Moore

As described on the
Daphne Foundation’s website, “The Daphne Foundation supports programs that
confront the causes and consequences of poverty in the five boroughs of New
York City. We have a particular interest in grassroots and emerging
organizations engaging their community members in the creation and
implementation of long-term solutions leading to self-sufficiency.”

 

Yvonne
L. Moore serves as Executive Director of Daphne Foundation.

 

Question: How will
the current economic crisis change your planning for advocacy funding,
including community organizing?

 

Answer: We’re going
to keep supporting community organizing and other advocacy.The economic crisis is not going to change
that, but my current goal is to try to figure out how to better equip grantees
to do the work.

 

I am really amazed at
how the conversations around advocacy and organizing have picked up over the
last couple of months. With those increased conversations, everyone is trying
to figure out how to maximize their dollars and particularly in this climate,
how to do that over the long term.And
we know that requires going beyond only trying to meet immediate needs like
food and shelter because the problems are extremely entrenched.

 

But, I still worry
that people in the sector don’t even know the definition of advocacy.There is this whole fear around lobbying, but
lobbying is only one tool in the advocacy arsenal and there are many strategies
we use before you start to be concerned about lobbying.

 

Question: Almost all
of your grants listed on your website are general operating support.What are the rewards of that type of funding?

 

Answer: For me it’s
simple.I’m always reminding people that
you can’t have a healthy program without a healthy organization.

 

You also can’t do a
good and thorough evaluation without general operating support because it’s
usually not built into a program grant.Outcomes and evaluations are something that we’re always harping on, but
you can’t get what you don’t pay for and real evaluation takes money.The same is true with collaboration and
professional development.They are
important and they take money and are not necessarily built into project
grants.

 

Question: How do you
evaluate advocacy/community organizing work and are you concerned if grantees
report that they changed their planned strategies?

 

Answer: For us, it’s
been a process of understanding what accomplishments look like and what each
grantee wants to accomplish so that everybody is on the same page from the
beginning.We then look at how grantees
are progressing each time we meet up with them.Advocacy accomplishments can look really different than what we normally
expect.If you obtained a meeting with
someone you couldn’t get a meeting with for two years, and especially if that
person holds a powerful elected office – that’s a huge accomplishment.The same is true if you build lasting
relationships with a key staff person, even if it’s not the actual
congressperson or the actual elected official.Another accomplishment is useful collaboration — maximizing
relationships in which there’s a shared interest.

 

We also take into
consideration internal and external factors in evaluation because anything
could happen.This economic downturn is
a perfect example.Our groups have to be
able to adjust to the situation midway through a grant, and that’s fine as long
as they explain what happened and the logic behind the adjustment.I’d be more concerned if someone was
continuing to carry out a bad advocacy strategy than if they changed their
strategy.

 

Question: Please
describe one successful advocacy project or program you have supported.

 

Answer: A couple of
years ago, we asked
Make the Road New York,
an organization that we’ve been funding for a while, to quantify their advocacy
outcomes.They had already been working
to do that for policy makers to demonstrate savings through policy changes the
group was recommending.

 

Several foundations
supported the organization as it successfully campaigned for five years for new
policies to prevent childhood lead poisoning.As a result, the New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act
2004 was enacted to protect low-income children from brain damage and other
illnesses. The estimated value [estimated increase in money to poor families
and new public investments generated] of the policy changes in the law passed
is $500 million over ten years.That
includes projections of how much money the government will save in children’s
healthcare costs as a result of the legislative changes.We have made similar kinds of cost estimates
related to work done by other grantees.

For me as a funder
looking at results of the
Make the Road New York
campaign, the best part was seeing the average grant size ($20,000), because
sometimes funders are not confident that their $20,000 or $30,000 grants could
possibly make a difference.They can,
though, when you pool them with other foundation money.To see small grants translate into a $500
million cost savings over ten years is extremely powerful.But it’s not just about savings.The campaign also increased residents’
engagement in their communities.They
fought for their communities and they developed community leaders.

 

Question: Some
foundations don’t want grantees to report that the foundation’s grant money was
used for lobbying.Are you concerned
when your grantees clearly lobbied, and reported that back to you?

 

Answer: No, that’s not
a concern for us because we empower ourselves with legal information.I understand from our attorneys that our due
diligence related to lobbying is complete when we make a general operating
support grant and do not earmark that money for lobbying.I want to go above and beyond that due
diligence, however, by making sure that our grantees have the technical
assistance resources they need in order to operate well and operate within the
law.

 

It frustrates me when
other funders say that they can’t support certain types of advocacy because
they don’t know whether they will get in trouble through grantee reporting or
through other ways.There are so many
resources available to us now to find out about the rules and how they
apply.The excuse of not knowing what
you can do and can’t do about funding advocacy doesn’t work anymore.

 

It’s most important
for all of us as funders to understand what advocacy in its entirety
encompasses, so we can incorporate it into our funding strategies.We expect our grantees to find out how to
maximize their grant money, so why don’t we as funders figure out how we can
maximize our investments with advocacy funding?

Finally, I want to
say that foundations have responsibility to move their own mission, as well as
that of their grantees.If our mission
is confronting the causes and consequences of poverty, I can’t expect that to
be accomplished solely through the $750,000 we give out.There are ways, within the law, that we, as
foundations, can get involved. If foundations were to actually harness the
power—our influence and our talents—we could move mountains.