Confessions of a Self-Proclaimed Policy Wonk

Guest post by Jordan Marshall, Initiatives and Special Projects Manager at Rasmuson Foundation. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

I admit it. I’m a policy wonk who happens to serve a foundation that understands the importance of public policy and advocacy work. We consider weighing in where our participation may be a catalyst for positive change in our state, our region, and our nation. That’s why the annual trek to Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is a highlight of the year. In addition to being a welcome opportunity for face-to-face meetings with our state’s congressional delegation and staff, it’s also a prime opportunity to visit with peers, team up with regional associates, and exchange stories and ideas about how philanthropy can make our communities stronger.

Rasmuson Foundation is located in Anchorage, Alaska, which is just about as far away from the nation’s capital as you can get and still be a member of the Council. And while there are many wonderful things that make Alaska unique, our quality of life is in many ways shaped by federal legislation, the tax code, and their intersection with the nonprofit sector—things we share with our peers across the United States.

FOTH is a chance for us to speak up for the causes that matter to us. It’s an opportunity to tell the stories of how our grants, convenings, and research make an impact back home. It’s a time to advocate on behalf of nonprofits, charities, and philanthropic organizations, as well as to share examples of innovative ways we and our grantees are tackling some of society’s toughest challenges. Part of the magic of FOTH is we receive direct feedback from policymakers, which helps in framing conversations and asking the right questions down the road.

Our commitment to participate in FOTH is grounded in a desire to strengthen the sector, speak up about our role as a funder, learn from other practitioners, and explain how we are making a positive difference in the lives of real people across our great nation, in our state, and in the very neighborhoods in which we live.


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