New Training Course: How to Work with Government Officials

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 11:54 am EST
Kristy Tsadick

As part of the Learn Foundation Law team, I am excited to announce the launch of our new training course, Working with Government Officials: Rules for Private Foundations. This course is designed to help private foundation staff navigate the rules and regulations surrounding interactions with government officials.

Foundation staff have many important reasons for working with government officials on a nonpartisan basis—to provide information, share ideas and draw on diverse viewpoints to ensure their own grantmaking serves the public good. But the rules governing those interactions can be complicated to apply. This new course provides an excellent overview of both the tax and ethics rules involved to help foundation staff stay in compliance with the law.

The course contains valuable resources, including a checklist of questions to consider before working with government officials and summaries of the IRS tax rules and federal ethics rules. One of the best features of the course is that it offers real-life scenarios when a foundation staff member might interact with a government employee, including conferences, meetings and project site visits. Employment issues are also addressed, including guidelines for when a foundation considers hiring a former government official.

This training is part of the Learn Foundation Law series, created through a collaboration by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in order to help foundations and their staff better understand the legal rules in grantmaking. These animated trainings take users between 30 and 90 minutes to complete and feature “Maya,” a foundation program officer who guides participants. The trainings supplement existing in-person workshops and training that legal counsel at private foundations provide to staff.

I encourage you to explore other topics in the series including Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations, Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities, Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations and Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations. The electioneering training is especially relevant during this presidential election year. All of these trainings, and a supplemental toolkit to promote them within private foundations, are available at

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Professional Development