AL Advising

Philanthropic and Political Consulting

Philanthropy is like wine: good grapes plus good terroir makes good wine. Candidates and organizations are the grapes you wish to cultivate; they need care, pruning, monitoring, and yes, sometimes they need to wither on the vine. Terroir includes the resources you start with and what you can add such as mission, staff, and money.

AL Advising is the winemaker: we work with both donors and organizations to maximize impact.

AL Advising works with progressive philanthropists to create a portfolio of civic engagement, policy, and advocacy investments including 501c3, 501c4, candidate, and related political investments. We also work with organizations to help them maximize their effectiveness.

AL Advising offers a variety of consulting services to:

  • Donors and philanthropists looking to streamline their giving and boost their impact
  • Candidates, campaigns, and organizations working with Millennials or those seeking to increase visibility with young Americans
  • Non-profit organizations that need a little extra help with strategic planning, fundraising and development, staff and Board management, and program oversight

Donors and Philanthropists: 360 Giving Strategy

“As Executive Director for two national political organizations, I spent a significant time raising money. Truth be told, I was often the recipient of donations that lacked strategic focus; in fact, many people gave to my organizations simply because they liked me personally.” 

Without an overarching strategy, money is often given inefficiently, leading to frustrated donors who do not obtain social return on their investment. Similarly, many non-profits and advocacy organizations, however well-intentioned, either do not set achievable goals or fail to deliver results.  

Our experiences in philanthropy and fundraising led to a desire to improve giving. Just as donors turn to private wealth managers for their financial portfolios, so should they lean on donor advisors to manage their portfolios of political and non-profit philanthropy. Particularly now, when many in the Silicon Valley area have amassed great wealth and are contemplating long-term giving strategies, the donor market needs focused philanthropic advisors who apply the same exacting standards that have propelled private sector success. 

Yet, as many donors discover, analyzing budgets and strategic plans, evaluating an organization’s or a candidate's chance of success, and meeting with like-minded partners to coordinate donor strategy can be time consuming, particularly for donors who have demanding full-time occupations and families. Valued advisors should offer the expertise needed to decide between a field of solicitations that are all important and deserving, coupled with the political savvy and personal contacts needed to further a donation’s impact. 

We take a holistic view, dubbed a 360 giving strategy. We create a robust giving strategy using personal political donations, traditional philanthropic giving to organizations and foundations, and where appropriate, corporate PAC donations and corporate social responsibility programs to maximize giving. Similarly, many of the metrics used in business are too often not applied or misapplied to campaigns and organizations. Through experiments and testing, real-time reporting, and site visits, we know how to evaluate programs and budgets to measure true impact.

Philanthropy is inherently complex and deeply personal. By assessing a donor’s long-term goals, we seek to develop comprehensive strategies that leverage private sector standards with innovative political and philanthropic giving.  

Complete our complimentary Giving Assessment here.

Millennials: Understanding How to Cut Through the Noise

Let’s face it: kids today have a different way of doing things (said every generation ever). Millennials make up 1/4 of the electorate and are the most sought-after age cohort for corporate America. As the largest, most diverse, most wired, and most marketed-to generation in American history, cutting through the noise and reaching Millennials with your message can be a challenge.

Through roles in campaigns, non-profits, and the donor community, we have developed a unique expertise in organizing and messaging to young people. Whether your goal is to reach young voters, understand Millennials in the work place, or target young people for advocacy and marketing, we know the best online and offline tactics and strategies to break through.

Giving Non-Profits a Helping Hand

Running an organization is hard work. Staff, donors, Board members, the media, and allied organizations are constantly vying for your time and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Sometimes enough is enough – you need another set of hands.

 We provide short-term and long-term help with those tasks that often fall through the cracks:

  • Strategic planning
  • Staff hiring and management
  • Board development
  • Fundraising
  • Program oversight

Our Founder

For nearly 20 years, Alexandra Acker-Lyons has worked for some of the nation’s most prominent donors, campaigns, and progressive organizations.

Alexandra is a recognized political commentator and travels internationally as a trainer for the National Democratic Institute. She is also the author of The Political Ladder: Insider Tips on Getting a Job in Politics, published in 2012.

From 2011-2015, Alexandra served as Director of the Youth Engagement Fund at the Democracy Alliance, working with individual and institutional donors to fund youth-focused voter engagement. She also led the Young Democrats of America as Executive Director during the historic 2008 election cycle. Alexandra served as the Executive Director of democratic GAIN, the professional organization for political operatives, for the 2010 election cycle having previously worked for GAIN as Training Director. She has also worked in various capacities for the John Kerry for President Campaign and the Democratic National Committee, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY).

Alexandra currently serves on the Boards of the Alliance for Youth Action and Women Get It Done. She graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2000 with a B.A. in political science.  She is a native of Nyack, NY, has lived in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA, and currently lives in Palo Alto, CA with her husband, Jonathan, one-year-old son Abe, and two cats.