What Happens After the “Win”? – Lessons Learned from State and Local Money in Politics Campaigns

Monday, February 26 at 3-4 ET | 2-3 CT | 1-2 MT | 12-1 PT

Funders and stakeholders alike can be so focused on the policy or advocacy campaign “win” that planning for steps after the campaign can take a backseat. And yet, we know that getting a ballot measure or piece of legislation passed is just one step of many towards creating meaningful and lasting change.

Funders will learn about:

  • The challenges and successes of implementing a policy from the field, including work to defend gains we make
  • What aspects of implementation funders have been able to support with 501(c)(3) investments
  • A discussion of what more could happen if there was increased philanthropic support.

Although the case studies of this briefing will focus on money in politics reforms, we know that these lessons are not unique to this space. We welcome all funders interested in a robust discussion about what comes after “winning” a policy reform to join us!

Cosponsors: Environmental Grantmakers Association, Funders Concerned About AIDS, Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Philanthropy New York, Piper Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, United Philanthropy Forum, Voqal

Moderated by Estevan Muñoz-Howard, Program Officer, Piper Fund

Speakers:

  • Mary Le Nguyen, Director, Washington CAN   
  • Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director, Common Cause Connecticut

Access the recording here (FCCP Members Only)

Key Takeaways:

  • We must reframe how a “win” is defined. Let’s shift it from a policy victory to a long term and sustainable campaign. This has to include support for coalition work, identifying and funding central staff to coordinate the work, organizing with a diverse group of people, and communication agreement between organizations that what’s said in the field must be reflected in the strategy.  
  • Implementation and defense are key aspect of creating change and should be considered in the long-term planning around a policy. These elements really need to be included in planning processes from the start. Doing so ensures that coalitions are able to commit to implementation/defense early on, and are more likely to stick around after the campaign wraps up. Lastly, the majority of implementation are 501(c)(3) activities, so can be supported by private and public foundations.

Implementation in Seattle

  • In Seattle, the voucher program was not just about winning; it was about shifting power. It is crucial that policy campaigns include the voices of historically marginalized communities. The Seattle voucher campaign and implementation focuses on people of color and low-income communities because they do not feel as though their voices are heard and are not encouraged to vote. In preparation for opposition, Washington CAN was able to get a diverse set of leaders to support the plan, making it difficult to oppose the policy when it passed. After the first cycle, they received many stories of people donating to a candidate for the first time, and these stories also strengthen their defense.
  • One key element in implementing this program was connecting money in politics issues to issues most important to the local community, for example, housing security to gain widespread support of the initiative.
  • Lessons learned –  it takes a lot of education for communities to feel secure with the program, particularly for legal permanent residents and the formerly incarcerated and would have been helpful to think through defense strategy before they actually had to defend the policy.  

Defense in Connecticut

  • In Connecticut, their win was more than just about policy – it was about making sure the win became part of the culture of their state. This helped them introduce more people to the idea of small donations from individual donors to inside and outside of their district.
  • In their defense work, Common Cause Connecticut has found that some of their biggest champions are the young, newer legislators who have participated in the program. Education is key, emphasizing the importance of this investment to their democracy.