Impact Advocacy


The Sheridan Group has created an Impact Advocacy service to help corporate clients apply proven advocacy strategies to develop meaningful solutions to social problems through public policy. 

In recent years political engagement and activism have grown across the nation with the public urging corporations take a stance on a wider array of issues than ever before. Consumers and employees are engaging brands based on their ideology and observations of corporations impacting social change for the good. Impact Advocacy methods bring together the nonprofit and corporate sectors to tackle issues important to both customers and employees through authentic, policy oriented-solutions that create a lasting impact such as new legislation and increased funding levels for existing programs.

Impact Advocacy moves beyond traditional philanthropy and volunteerism by leveraging advocacy and policy change to build brand recognition, customer loyalty and visibility with the public, while also establishing meaningful, long term relationships with lawmakers and presidential administrations. The Sheridan Group team is working with the private and nonprofit sectors on this next generation of corporate social responsibility. 


The America Forward Coalition

The America Forward Coalition is a network of more than 70 innovative, impact-oriented organizations that foster innovation, identify more efficient and effective solutions, reward results, and catalyze cross-sector partnerships in education, early childhood, workforce development, youth development, and poverty alleviation. Together, the America Forward Coalition members have leveraged $1.5 billion for social innovation and have driven millions of federal resources toward programs that are achieving measurable results for those who need them most. Our Coalition members are achieving measurable outcomes in more than 14,500 communities across the country every day, touching the lives of nearly 8 million Americans each year. We believe that innovative policy approaches can transform these local results into national change and propel all of America forward.


The Background

Approaching the 2008 Presidential Election, it was clear that Americans had lost faith in the government’s ability to solve problems. As a result, nearly two years in advance of the 2008 presidential election, a group of social entrepreneurs gathered with their partners across sectors for New Profit Inc.’s annual Gathering of Leaders. 

Together, they considered a bold presidential campaign advocacy effort that would: make the case for nonpartisan presidential campaign engagement at a unique moment in time; articulate the theme of “change” as the driving message in the 2008 presidential race and how to echo it using social innovation and entrepreneurship; inspire voter confidence through examples of social innovation and the results that have been achieved in communities across America and create a platform for social entrepreneurs to rally around and to pursue themselves with the 44th President and his/her team of top policy advisors.

This campaign and the coalition of leaders and organizations who embraced it became known as “America Forward.”   

The Process

TSG developed a compelling case for social entrepreneurs to form a coalition and enter the competitive policy field of the 2008 Presidential Campaign; developed and managed a bipartisan political and communications campaign to promote a platform of policies; secured policy endorsements from both Republican and Democratic candidates during the primaries and general election. The coalition also secured President Obama’s endorsement of and call for a $50 million Social Innovation Fund, a mechanism that required a 3:1 private to public funding match and incentivized greater innovation and performance-based investment. TSG then developed and executed a bipartisan congressional strategy to secure authorization of this Social Innovation Fund through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and secured full appropriations of this fund at the President’s requested $50 million level; developing and executing a congressional and administration strategy to institutionalize this innovation agenda across government.

The Result

President Obama created a White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to provide leadership for this innovation agenda. The $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund at the Department of Education and the $50 million Social Innovation Fund at the Corporation for National and Community Service are examples of the impact of America Forward’s campaign. To date, the Social Innovation Fund has distributed $137.7 million in grants to 197 high impact nonprofits across the country, yielding $350 million in private commitments, and serving more than 174,000 people. There is now movement across agencies to re-direct funds to high impact solutions, using these resources to catalyze competition in the nonprofit sector and better leverage private sector investment.