The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have jointly launched a free, first-of-its kind online training for program staff at private foundations to help them navigate the rules of advocacy and lobbying.

The interactive resource provides program staff with a legal overview about how to remain within the law when the grants they fund, or activities they do involve advocacy and lobbying. The course takes less than an hour to complete and features “Maya”, a new program officer that leads participants through the training.

“While there are many rules and regulations applicable to our grantmaking, we find the IRS lobbying laws are some of the more important ones for our staff to clearly understand,” said Mary Anne Rodgers, General Counsel for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “Since these rules apply to all private foundations, we wanted to share this important resource with the field and make it accessible to program staff across the country.”

The training includes three easy-to-follow modules that cover issues such as:

  • An overview of how lobbying laws apply to private foundations and whom and what they can legally fund.
  • The types of grants private foundations are allowed to provide and how to fund when advocacy and lobbying are involved.
  • Guidelines and tools to help foundation staff engage with grantees and legislators.

Participants can also return to the training at any time for a refresher and click on the individual modules to refer back to specific topics.

The goal of the course is to supplement existing in-person workshops or trainings that legal counsel at foundations already provide to staff and it is intended to be the first in a suite of free training resources for private foundation staff.

“This online training sets a new standard for grantmaker education on lobbying issues. It understands where grantmaking staff are coming from and allows them to customize their experience,” said Lawrence Mendenhall, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Humanity United. “The training’s flexible functionality and use of hard-hitting examples is a potential game-changer for grantmakers and grantees working to change policy while remaining compliant with the IRS rules.”

For more information and to view the training, visit

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 Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The foundation’s science program aims to make a significant impact on the development of provocative, transformative scientific research and increase knowledge in emerging fields.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912–1996), cofounder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914–1987). The Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in the following program areas: Conservation and Science; Population and Reproductive Health; and Children, Families, and Communities. Foundation grantmaking includes support for a wide variety of activities including direct services, research and policy development, and public information and education.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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