Advocacy Controversy

The presence of controversy and the possibility of confronting opposition are not reasons to avoid advocacy. In fact, they may be the most important reason to engage in advocacy — given adequate precautions. Grantmakers emphasize that confronting opposition and negotiating an effective compromise are not necessarily opposite alternatives. They are often two aspects of a single process. “A steady line of confrontation, with back-channels of negotiation, makes the negotiation more effective,” said one advocacy veteran. When a policy issue may involve confrontation or controversy, several grantmakers advise being candid about that possibility with colleagues, executives and trustees, and planning carefully in advance for how such controversy can be managed. It’s essential to know how much attention and controversy each grantmaker — and each organization — can accept, and plan grants and activities accordingly. Often, said one grantmaker, “your willingness to take some heat goes up dramatically when the issue is one that your foundation really considers important. Know what you believe in, and you’ll pretty much know what you can advocate for.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Advocacy Funding.