We’re reminded every day of the power of our network. Last week, we heard a great example from Anna Beth Gorman, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, that I wanted to share.
This month, a state senator introduced a bill, SB71, attempting to end affirmative action in Arkansas, which made national headlines. “It would have a profound effect on our actual work, our ability to work with state and local governments, and impact the economic mobility of women and people of color,” said Anna Beth. Unfortunately, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas has never engaged in formal lobbying and weren’t sure what steps they could take to fight this problematic bill. She reached out to the WFN Executive Leaders Listserv asking for help in understanding how the organization could navigate lobbying without jeopardizing their nonprofit status. “Our experience is one that I imagine many smaller funds could find themselves in,” she said.
Jo Giles, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, stepped up to help. Over the phone, she walked Anna Beth through some immediate steps. A few days later, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas had formally retained a lobbyist who informed legislators about the bill’s impact. The bill is still in committee, hopefully to soon be defeated. “We’re happy to share the valuable lessons learned over the years of our advocacy journey. We’ve gained knowledge from other members, such as The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. Our WFN is powerful,” Jo said.
If your organization could use more guidance in legislative advocacy, I recommend taking these steps:
- Join the WFN Advocacy and Public Policy peer community and Executive Leaders peer community and take advantage of the related monthly calls, listservs, and resources
- Explore Bolder Advocacy’s Resource Library, Trainings and Events, and their free technical assistance phone and email hotlines
- Plan on attending WFN’s Feminist Funded ’23: Legislative Conference and Feminist Foreign Policy Convening in Washington, DC. It will be an opportunity to learn from policy experts and each other, with U.S. women’s funds being able to meet directly with their Congressional representatives and global guests to connect with government officials about the impact of policies across the globe.
We love hearing stories of the myriad ways our network can share knowledge and support one another. After all, we’re stronger together.
Director of Policy and Programs at the Women’s Funding Network