AL Advising

Philanthropic and Political Consulting

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

The Left Can Win by Emulating Conservative Philanthropy

This is a hot take from Deborah Barron, Founder of New Left Accelerator, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She endorses the idea of portfolio giving and getting creative in funding entities.

“Conservatives have long grasped this, making long-term investments in whatever legal vehicles are necessary — including advocacy groups and corporate entities — to effect change.

Now bold progressive grant makers are exploring how charities can engage in the full range of sanctioned activities, including lobbying. And innovative leaders are thinking beyond 501(c)(3)s and establishing a variety of organizations — including advocacy groups, political-action committees, and other entities — to accomplish their mission and win key battles.”

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Where to Give Now: Sept 2019

Let’s get out the crystal ball. One year from now, the Democratic and Republican conventions will be over. We will have a Democratic nominee and a Vice-Presidential candidate. Strategies will crystalize as we narrow down the states in play. Turnout operations kick into high gear (although — fingers crossed! — voter contact programs have been funded and running in key states for the better part of a year, if not longer).  We are looking forward to the first general election debate (assuming our authoritarian President actually deigns to debate, and more than once). 

How do we ensure we are in the best possible position to take advantage of the upcoming year, not only for the presidential election but critical Senate, House, and state and local races? 

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Giving by Women’s Funds Has Soared. And They’re Getting More Savvy and Strategic

A new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, “Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study,” reveals the grantmaking practices and range of giving philosophies and principles among 209 American women’s foundations and funds that focus on giving to nonprofits that benefit women and girls.  It is the first study of its kind since 2009, when the Women’s Funding Network and Foundation Center issued the report “Accelerating Change for Women: The Role of Women’s Funds,” which studied 145 women’s funds in the Women’s Funding Network

Read more in Inside Philanthropy.

Philanthropy and Politics Round-Up

Several scholarly reports and other research at the intersection of philanthropy and politics have been published recently.

Here’s a round-up:

Where to Give Now: March 2019

With the first fundraising deadline of the 2020 cycle rapidly approaching (midnight on Sunday, March 31st, for those who have not been bombarded with calls and emails yet), I wanted to take a moment to stress why giving now is smart money.

First, there’s a reason why EMILY’s List has the best acronym in politics — early money IS like yeast (it makes the dough rise). In our current, terrible campaign finance system, fundraising is one of the only ways to show viability and money begets money.

Second, early communications and organizing set the tone and lay the groundwork for the race. Every candidate wants to be out there communicating with voters early on, defining their own message and setting the policy agenda. Early communications can be more positive in tone, focused on issues, and — bonus points! — are much more cost-effective than during a crowded fall campaign season.

Finally, money helps scare off challengers. This has been shown time and time again but we have great examples to point to in 2018: Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, and Debbie Stabenow all raised significant war chests and did not face top tier challengers. This cycle, we need to shore up House and Senate incumbents (see more below) early on to take those races off the map and focus on offense.

So while things at the presidential level are very much in flux, concentrate on the incumbents who need those early dollars. It’s not as sexy as flipping a seat in the final weeks but it’s easier and cheaper in the long run.

Is It 2020 yet?

With multiple candidates having declared already, the 2020 presidential election is well underway. While we will be providing more information about grassroots organzations, down-ballot races, and other investments, we know all eyes are on the race for the White House.

Here are a few resources: