Across the spectrum of nonprofit organizations, a broad brush of advocacy concerns and efforts are underway - each as varied as the organization they represent.

Women’s Way is one of the youngest groups supporting legislative efforts that will positively impact the respect of, for and by women through public awareness for women’s equality, safety, self-sufficiency and reproductive freedom.

By no means a newcomer to the public education forum, they have elevated that status be becoming more proactive in terms of specific legislative efforts.

Just before the 2008 Change of Pace report ( was released, a new staff person, dedicated to advocacy efforts, was added to support their work.

Through direct conversations with their funded agencies and through community assessments, surprisingly there has been no headway made in terms of increased healthcare access, reduced violence or a shrinking in the wage gap for women.

Using this full-bodied report, Women’s Way representatives arm themselves when as they present poignant, relevant statistics to their legislators. By joining and forming coalitions, their representation becomes even stronger bringing a mightier impact.

“The legislators are shocked by these statistics,” stated Rebecca Foley. “They cannot believe the incidences are so high or the gender differences so discerning. With today’s economy, we expect these figures to get worse.”

Finally, proposed legislation being backed through these coalition efforts are threefold. In the City of Philadelphia, a bill would require all employers to provide paid sick days for their employees. Statewide, a Violence Prevention Bill would increase revenue for domestic violence services by adding a fee to wedding license and divorce fees.

The PA College and University Rape Education Act would provide college students with an understanding of sexual violence; that there is a direct link between sex, drugs, alcohol. A service directory guide would be made available for what is the most unreported crime in the country - date rape on campus.

The United Way of Southeastern PA has determined that there are more than 22,000 nonprofits in the greater Philadelphia region. Who stands up for all of them, regardless of sector? (i.e. health and human service; arts; education; civic; community or otherwise)

The PA Association of Nonprofit Organizations ( has been leading the charge for legislative issues affecting all nonprofits, regardless of their mission and service area or gender. PANO has a full-time Public Policy Officer (PPO) on staff.

The PPO monitors Federal and State legislation and regulations, coordinates with the Public Policy Committee to develop positions and strategies, and works with PANO members to mobilize grassroots engagement. The PPO also directly lobbies legislators, regulators and staff.

PANO lobbies directly by contacting legislators, regulators and their staff. “We typically contact legislators/regulators/staff before moving forward” emphasized David S. Ross, Esq., PPO. “In this way, we are better able to make informed decisions. Once we determine our position, we engage we re-engage the legislator/regulator. We also testify on issues, legislation, regulations, and proposals.”

PANO also holds events and forums with legislators, and works with media to advance issues. In 2008, PANO and the United Way of PA launched the PA Charitable Nonprofit Caucus (the first in the nation) to establish a forum by which legislators, charities and foundations connect on issues of importance to the nonprofit sector.

Helping women to find their voices has been the focus of the Public Policy Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Women Owned Businesses (NAWBO) ( for three years. During that time, issues of relevance to their membership have been studied and women became better educated on the importance of connecting with their legislators and their voting records.

Most recently, close to 60 women were trained to visit their local elected officials and begin friendly conversations so that the legislators would become more familiar with the presence of women in meaningful industries and reinforcing that with statistics.

“We are not stay-at-home Moms subsidizing ourselves by selling cosmetics or kitchen products at home parties, for example,” said Jane McLaughlin, principal at Lifecycle Software and Public Policy Chairman. “Some of our officials were astounded when we presented them with these statistics which we found at the PA State Data Center.”

Their most recent data reported that between 1997 & 2002:

Women owned businesses grew double the growth rate for all firms in the state (11.9% vs. 4.4%);

WOB made up 26% of total businesses in the state, employed nearly 280,654 individuals, and supported a payroll of nearly $6.3 billion.

Each of these groups depend on their partnerships or alliances with similarly affiliated organizations to strengthen their voice with legislators. “It is impossible to go it alone,” said Rebecca Foley.

Regardless of your affiliation in your community, everyone has the power to speak about how your money is being spent. Do what you can to find your voice. Collect amazing statistics and tell your stories about your impact.

Attend school board meetings and municipal meetings frequently - not just when you are upset about something. If you become familiar with the location of your legislative offices, when you need help, you can find it easier.

Author's Bio: 

Kayte Connelly, CCA is a leadership coach and an Organizational Development Consultant.She is a certified ChangeWorks Analyst and Standards for Excellence Approved Consultant.Connelly supports individuals and organizations by processing solutions for personal, professional and organizational goals by restoring control to the areas in which they are experiencing extreme tension. Ultimately productivity is improved.

In addition to leadership coaching, she offers a variety of services including strategic planning, governance, association management and fundraising. She resides in West Chester, PA with her husband Marc Riddell CPA, CVA.

Contact her at or 484.769.2327.Additional information can be found at and