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Four Foundations Launch New Course for Grantees on Understanding Advocacy and Lobbying Laws

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Free, online course available on Learn Foundation Law’s redesigned website

PALO ALTO, Calif., May 21, 2018—Today, four leading foundations announced the launch of a new online course to help grantees understand the laws governing their lobbying activity. The free course is designed for U.S. public charities and their equivalents who are seeking funding from a private foundation to support advocacy work. “Advocacy & Lobbying: Rules for Public Charity Grantees of Private Foundations” is available on the redesigned Learn Foundation Law website at

This course is the latest in the Learn Foundation Law suite of trainings, developed by legal staff at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. It is also the first geared toward organizations seeking or receiving funding from private foundations.

“We saw the need for an advocacy course for grantees—to help organizations navigate the rules around advocacy and lobbying, and to explain how private foundations can fund public policy work,” said Elizabeth Peters, the general counsel and corporate secretary at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a founding member of Learn Foundation Law. “We are also excited that these organizations can access this course on a variety of devices from our revamped website.”

Key features of the redesigned site include greater usability on mobile devices, increased functionality and the central placement of the animated character Maya—a program officer who leads all of Learn Foundation Law’s courses. Other features of the site include a “Using the Courses” section, which offers tips on how to use and promote the courses within an organization, a subscription option for updates on new courses and the ability to offer feedback.

“Advocacy & Lobbying: Rules for Public Charity Grantees of Private Foundations” features Maya and a new animated character, Alex, an executive director of an U.S. public charity. Topics include:

  • What is Advocacy?
  • Lobbying under IRS Rules
  • Funding Options
  • Maximizing Limits

In addition to learning what constitutes lobbying under IRS rules, completion of the 20-minute course will help grantees write proposals and grant reports that comply with these rules.

Learn Foundation Law offers other legal training courses that can supplement existing in-person workshops and training that legal counsel at private foundations provide to staff. Training topics for private foundation staff include:

  • Working with Government Officials
  • Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations
  • Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations
  • Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations
  • Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities

“Learn Foundation Law started when legal staff from the four foundations got together and realized that we had the opportunity to leverage all of our experience and offer it up to others,” said Edna Garrett, assistant general counsel at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “With the new website and course for grantees, we look forward to introducing our work to a wider audience.”

About Learn Foundation Law

In 2010, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation collaborated to develop a comprehensive training program on legal issues in grantmaking. Out of the collaboration came Learn Foundation Law, a series of free, online trainings on legal issues that private foundation staff and their grantees must understand. The series is designed to speak to a variety of learning styles and organizational training needs.


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For 50 years, it has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective.

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 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.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.