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Public Policy Guidelines

The Denver Foundation believes that social change comes from employing a variety of strategies beyond grantmaking. Listening to and working alongside community, serving as a convener and place for conversation, and using our voice as an influencer are all ways that we participate in systems work.

Unlike private foundations, community foundations are public charities and, as such, are allowed by IRS rules to participate in a broad range of advocacy activities, including lobbying and funding lobbying within certain limitations and reporting requirements. In fact, at a recent convening thirty of the largest community foundations in the country agreed that public policy and advocacy are no longer optional strategies; they are essential to achieving the goals and objectives of the field and an obligation to our communities.

While grantmaking to organizations and residents remains our primary mechanism for supporting policy advocacy, under certain circumstances The Denver Foundation will also engage in other strategies to support policy outcomes.

Criteria we use in vetting opportunities include:

  • Alignment with our core values of leadership, inclusiveness, accountability and equity. We are particularly interested in those areas that support racial equity and community/constituent leadership
  • Direct connection to our objective areas of Basic Human Needs, Economic Opportunity, Education, and Leadership & Equity and current prioritized strategies. Details about these can be found at Grants: What We Fund.
  • Available resources to engage in the selected strategy
  • Potential for The Denver Foundation’s direct involvement to make a substantive and unique difference in the effort

Examples of other ways The Denver Foundation may get involved in policy advocacy beyond grantmaking include:

  • Convening stakeholders
  • Education and awareness
  • Joining coalitions
  • Lobbying
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Contacting elected officials
  • Testifying
  • Signing letters
  • Op-eds

If you are currently considering or working on a policy advocacy campaign that you believe meets the above criteria and would like to discuss that opportunity, please contact our Vice President of Community Impact at 303-865-4609.

Read more about the Foundation's current advocacy and policy activities.