Across the U.S., communities directly impacted by injustice are strengthening their impact on policy discussions and holding elected officials accountable through transformative strategies, spanning from prosecutor accountability around criminal justice reform to ballot initiative efforts to expand voting rights. Social movements and grassroots-led efforts are increasingly testing new organizational models to build power among people of color, finding 501(c)(4) structures as flexible, strategic resources to develop a strong base of support, deliver on progressive policy agendas, and build long-term community influence. Complementing 501(c)(3) efforts, C4s can help activists advance their goals by integrating issue advocacy, legislative reform efforts, ballot initiative work, electoral engagement, and organizing. When combined, these tools can help build the long-term influence of historically marginalized communities in politics, while creating an environment where policies reflect their demands.
However, funders face key barriers to engagement, including complex legal compliance requirements, risk-aversion connected to the current political context, and limited exposure to effective models to collaborate with C4 organizations. This session will focus on the experience of movements that have expanded their work into the C4 space to strengthen community voice over decision-making; models for supporting C4 organizations with C3 dollars; and opportunities to promote reflection with grantees on the potential of C4 organizing.
Ultimately, this session will demystify C4 grantmaking by exploring the role of C4 infrastructure in building lasting, transformative community power and identifying concrete opportunities for 501(c)(3) funders to engage.