State Policy Network’s mission is to catalyze thriving, durable freedom movements in every state, anchored with high-performing independent think tanks. We believe nonprofit think tanks play a vital role in society by providing reliable research and education to help government officials develop compassionate policies that help rather than hinder people, and by engaging citizens to give them a voice in that policy-making process. Through our membership program, SPN connects and empowers a 50-state Network of leaders and organizations working to develop state and local policy solutions that serve the needs of everyday Americans, not the interests of DC politicians.
SPN’s Network is comprised of 63 affiliated state think tanks and over 100 partner organizations. While each individual member organization operates independently and varies in composition, all are dedicated to advancing market-oriented public policy solutions and pushing important policy decisions down to the states—where leaders understand the challenges their communities face and can advance innovative solutions that meet their unique needs.
SPN membership is voluntary and by invitation only, and SPN neither directs nor manages its members’ programs or activities. Our members pride themselves on their independence and relevancy to their respective states and their chosen areas of public policy research and education.
What is the Network?
State Policy Network is the compilation of 63 state think tanks plus over 66 state allied organizations in key capacities (like litigation, journalism, and advocacy) that work in all 50 states, and more than 90 national partners all dedicated to the principles of liberty, free markets, and federalism. Together we form a powerful coalition with the ability to scale critical state and local solutions so they spread from state to state, leading to national impact.
We now offer two levels of organizational engagement with SPN, Affiliates and Partners.
What is an Affiliate?
We believe nonprofit think tanks, acting as solution centers, play a vital role in society by providing reliable research, analysis, and education to help government officials develop compassionate policies that help rather than hinder people, and by engaging citizens to give them a voice in that policy-making process. To fill this role successfully, we are committed to modeling and fostering excellence in nonprofit best practices.
Affiliates in State Policy Network are state-based and locally focused 501(c)3 organizations. Affiliates meet the criteria outlined by and the approval of an internal SPN Membership Committee, subject to review by the SPN Board of Directors. Affiliate status is voluntary and by invitation-only.
SPN Affiliates pride themselves on their independence and relevancy to their respective states and areas of public policy research. SPN neither directs nor manages its Affiliates’ programs or activities.
SPN’s Network welcomes leaders with diverse viewpoints who are committed to truth and the ethical advancement of our shared values. We expect Affiliates to vigorously debate ideas in a manner that acknowledges the equal worth of every human being. We tear down bad logic and erroneous facts, not people.
The terms “member” and “affiliate,” do not denote any financial or legal interests or rights within SPN as a corporation. Affiliate status does not guarantee access to any programs, grants, or activities provided by State Policy Network.
Criteria for Affiliates
Organizations can become Affiliates by invitation only. If invited, prospective Affiliates complete an application and vetting process.
Affiliates have a shared vision of an America where all people can flourish because collaborative, entrepreneurial leaders have secured lasting social change, personal freedom, and economic opportunity at the state and local level.
Our Affiliate organizations include:
- Full-service state think tanks committed to state-based, market-oriented public policy ideas and solutions.
- A local or state focused non-profit organization that has a mission that supports our shared vision.
Organizations must meet these minimum requirements for SPN Affiliates:
- Current 501(c)3 status and in good standing in terms of IRS, federal, and state compliance.
- An institutional commitment to full-time or near full-time operation.
- Most work relates to state-focused, free-market policy, or solving problems at the local and state level.
- Pass the IRS public support test with demonstrated funding stability and diversity which includes funding within the primary state of operation. SPN is likely to turn down applications for organizations receiving more than 10% of their budget from government sources or that work to expand the scope and size of government.
- Independent operations with an engaged board of directors.
At the discretion of SPN, Affiliate renewal invitations are extended in January of each year to organizations that continue to meet the criteria of Affiliate.
Please contact SPN’s Network Stewardship Manager, Sharon Milhollin, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about becoming an Affiliate.
SPN Partner Definition
State Policy Network is a Network of Networks in the states. Our partners include national non-profit and other more issue-focused non-profit organizations that share our commitment to restoring the necessary balance of power between Washington, DC and the states, so that communities can advance and innovate policy solutions that better meet their unique local needs.
Partners demonstrate support for our mission to catalyze thriving, durable freedom movements in every state, anchored with high-performing independent think tanks.
The term “partner” does not denote any financial or legal interests or rights within SPN as a corporation. Partner status does not guarantee access to any programs, grants, or activities provided by State Policy Network. While Partners are not eligible for the same full set of benefits as Affiliates, they may be invited to participate in select programs and services offered by State Policy Network. At the discretion of SPN, Partners can be invited to participate in peer networks, working groups, grant programs, and Annual Meeting.
Partner organizations include:
- Start-up state-based think tanks that do not yet meet the criteria as Affiliates
- U.S. territory think tanks
- National, state, or local non-profit organizations and think tanks that are meaningfully engaged in state and local issues and working in partnership with SPN and SPN Affiliates. These organizations can be engaged in single or multiple states.
Criteria for Partners
- Current 501(c)3, (c)4, and (c)6 status in good standing in terms of IRS, federal, and state compliance.
- Continuous operation for at least the past 18 months.
Please contact SPN’s Network Stewardship Manager, Sharon Milhollin, at email@example.com, if you have any questions about becoming a Partner.
Why do organizations join the Network?
Organizations that join SPN have a shared vision of an America where all people can flourish because collaborative, entrepreneurial leaders have secured lasting social change, personal freedom, and economic opportunity at the state and local level.
We are committed to restoring the necessary balance of power between Washington, DC and the states, so that communities can advance and innovate policy solutions that better meet their unique needs. Our mission is to catalyze thriving, durable freedom movements in every state—what has become a Network of Networks—anchored with high-performing independent think tanks.
Here the top ten of the many reasons Affiliates join State Policy Network:
- Connections. Network with peers from around the country and create the strategic partnerships that will help you build influence and winning initiatives.
- Solutions. Help identify the solutions to your state’s most pressing problems and share your successes and lessons learned with other leaders.
- Impact. Collaborate with leaders from around the country to increase your effectiveness and see your solutions grow beyond your community and state to have national impact.
- Acceleration. Leverage the power of the Network to go further faster so that you can achieve your goals in a shorter time than you would if you worked alone.
- Learn and Grow. Access the wealth of experience, best practices, training resources, coaching, peer networks, and programs that the Network has to offer so that you and your team can strengthen the skills necessary to build effective nonprofit organizations.
- Intelligence. Forecast trends, find your audience, build your influence, assess threats, and optimize your strategies with national and state intelligence and analysis.
- Capacity. Build your organization’s strategies and capacity to achieve its mission by learning best practices to build leadership skills, communications, public affairs, strategic positioning, and fundraising.
- Funding. Access to targeted grants and RFP programs that help build your organization and strategies.
- Tools. Avoid reinventing the wheel through access to a variety of highly customized toolkits, research, case studies, templates, and other products developed by and for leaders like you.
- Recognition. Each year, SPN recognizes nonprofits and nonprofit leaders who have made significant contributions to their states and the Network. In addition to financial support, these awards enhance your exposure and credibility with funders and influencers.
Why did SPN update the Membership Program?
Our state-based policy network and country look very different than we did 30 years ago when State Policy Network was founded. Today this Network employs a vastly broader array of talented leaders and more diverse organizations than ever before. Leaders around the country are building coalitions or “durable freedom movements” that strengthen their policy muscle with new capabilities in media, litigation, grassroots, and advocacy. Coalitions of new (to the Network) leaders and organizations are rapidly forming around issues, regions, and causes.
SPN’s Membership Model is adapting to embrace both the evolving landscape and the opportunity it creates to accelerate the positive changes happening at the state and local level. We are no longer just building a Network of state-based think tanks focused on their states—that was our first phase. This Network has already begun the next phase—building a Network of Networks—connected organizations and leaders, deriving value from one another, and working together locally to build a stronger nation through stronger states. The obvious multiplying value of powerful in-state coalitions—accelerated by SPN connections —is driving this second phase.
Consequently, we updated SPN’s Membership Model to better connect, incubate, accelerate, and defend the depth and breadth of this new “Network of Networks.”
Who Attends SPN’s Annual Meeting?
State Policy Network’s Annual Meeting is the premier gathering of organizations and leaders dedicated to promoting state policy solutions that strengthen communities and improve the lives of Americans. Through attendance or sponsorship, Annual Meeting Partners can educate and engage a targeted audience of state and national organizations as well as resource partners and network investors.
SPN Annual Meeting is a privately held event. All board members, executives, and staff at current SPN Affiliates and Partner organizations are invited to attend SPN’s Annual Meeting.
We also welcome other non-profit and for-profit leaders. They must provide a Network or SPN staff member reference to register. All SPN Annual Meeting Sponsors are approved by our Sponsorship Team and any sponsored session content is subject to review and approval by the Program Planning Team.
How Much Does It Cost to Register for SPN Annual Meeting?
How Does My Organization Become an Affiliate or Partner of SPN?
- Complete the Affiliate or Partner Inquiry forms.
- SPN will contact you to discuss eligibility and next steps.
- If invited, you will complete an Affiliate or Partner application.
- SPN’s Membership Committee will review the application and make recommendations to SPN’s Leadership Team with Board of Directors input for decision.
- You will be notified of the decision and next steps.
Please contact SPN’s Network Stewardship Manager, Sharon Milhollin, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions about becoming an Affiliate or Partner.