Foundation for Public Affairs
KeywordsPublic affairs Foundations Research Trends Issues Washington, DC
The Foundation for Public Affairs is a not-for-profit, charitable association (i.e., a 501c3) in the United States that serves as the research arm of the Washington, DC-based Public Affairs Council. Among the research it produces include annual and specialized efforts examining issues and topics of special interest to public affairs officers (aka PAO). Though governed by executives drawn from the Public Affairs Council’s executive committee, the Foundation has its own (research) advisory board. It is supported financially mainly by donations drawn from Public Affairs Council leadership and their organizations. The Foundation also occasionally sponsors/co-sponsors events or meetings to share its research findings with interested PAO and relevant stakeholders.
The Foundation for Public Affairs (aka FPA) is a research organization that was founded and remains located in Washington, DC. It became a not-for-profit, charitable organization dedicated to supporting knowledge development and dissemination about public affairs issues and trends in December 1964. Through the years, the FPA has produced numerous, substantive, and significant outputs that have been helpful to public affairs officers (PAO) and their stakeholders in better understanding how the function works and assessing its effectiveness. FPA activities serve both domestic U.S.-based as well as PAO in other countries, having taken a more international focus on PA subjects in the last few decades.
Managing stakeholder engagement: The FPA shares strategies in both book- and event-based formats (i.e., in-person meetings and webinars) from organizations around the globe aimed at describing the fostering of meaningful engagement between businesses and its stakeholders. FPA publications, especially its long-running series Public Interest Group Profiles (Foundation for Public Affairs: Washington, DC, annual) or its newer version of Managing Stakeholder Engagement on a Global Scale (Foundation for Public Affairs, 2016), have shared various approaches to stakeholder engagement on issues ranging from manufacturing advancement to health care and sustainability. Their research commonly focuses on the corporate need to develop meaningful advocacy and productive, local relationships.
Measuring and communicating the value of public affairs: Since the early 1990s, the FPA has been involved in numerous collaborations to produce better insights into the assessment, management, and measurement of public affairs activities and performance. Among its most notable efforts in this realm included three books (Fleisher, 1995, 1997; Shafer, 1994) which sold out their print runs that were developed and published in association with the former Center for Public Affairs Management (aka CPAM), a subsidiary of the Public Affairs Council during the 1990s and Y2k period. The FPA also produces webcasts in this subject matter area.
Building domestic and/or global public affairs functions: The FPA has long focused on developing targeted case studies, best or demonstrated practices, models of organization, and departmental structures, as well as the kinds of organizational culture that differentiate effective from less effective PA functions. Key FPA publications in this category include its annual The State of Corporate Public Affairs report and a number of publications labeled under the umbrella of Public Affairs Management Report series. These latter publications include its Opening Doors in Brussels: Managing Government Affairs in the EU (Foundation for Public Affairs, 2019) and other reports that contain case studies, interviews, and research results about what works or not for public affairs functions.
Engaging corporate leaders in public policy: The executive or C-suite (aka Chief’s suite) can be big major difference-makers in public affairs, both for their involvement in it as well as knowing how not to take inappropriate actions or inactions, and/or ill-advisedly stirring issues-based “hornet’s nests” at the wrong times among the stakeholders. The C-suite and boards of directors need to have a firm grasp of their PA environment in order to be effective in executing their governance and oversight duties and roles. The FPA has been developing several reports and webinars in this area designed to get effective executive engagement with public policy.
Last but not least, the FPA has been emphasizing its efforts in launching its PA Trend Lab since 2016. This project seeks to generate insight on how PAO can utilize visual story telling within their PA and advocacy efforts. It is supported by research and the development of case studies and examples gathered from a number of leading associations and companies.
The Foundation for Public Affairs (FPA) has been and remains one of the most valuable and relevant research organizations in the PA field. The FPA’s efforts over six decades have produced both a regular stream of reports and specialized insights that have helped PAO and their non-PA executives to better engage in public policy and with issues and stakeholders. It is also a model of how not-for-profit charities can work together with related professional associations to support the underlying development of a field of practice.
- Fleisher, C. S. (1995). Public affairs benchmarking. Washington, DC: Foundation for Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Fleisher, C. S. (1997). Assessing, managing and maximizing public affairs performance. Washington, DC: Foundation for Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Foundation for Public Affairs. (2016). Measuring and communicating the value of public affairs. Washington, DC: Foundation for Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Foundation for Public Affairs. (2019). Opening doors in brussels: Managaing government affairs in the EU. Washington, DC: Foundation for Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Shafer, P. (1994). Adding value to the public affairs function: Using quality to improve performance. Washington, DC: Foundation for Public Affairs.Google Scholar