For those of us who are not in the habit of following the daily give and take of Washington policymaking, this year has been a crash course in skinny budgets and the latitude of presidential executive orders.

Contrary to early hopes that a Trump Administration might channel resources to the struggling places that ushered it into office, recent funding proposals and policy actions seem designed to undermine if not reverse the fragile gains those places have made toward sustainably recovering from the great recession, if not from the deeper forces of post-industrial decline. Meanwhile, cities themselves have emerged as the standard-bearers for a national progressive agenda that protects the environment, immigrant rights, and affordable health care, and invests in equitable neighborhood, economic, and workforce development.

Limitations on foundations’ political activities aside, place-based funders can play important roles in supporting policy action amid this turbulent landscape, a point that was underscored by speakers in our Older Industrial Cities working group’s recent Inside Policy conference call series. The series identified ways funders can play a proactive role in policy change as conveners, communicators, and financial supporters.

Here were some common themes:

1. Analyze impact. In order to be effective advocates, local partners need to know how proposed budget cuts and policy changes will affect their community. Larger, well-resourced cities often have staff to conduct such analyses. However, smaller, struggling cities may be hard-pressed to dedicate time to this effort. Funders can assist by convening stakeholders and assembling a community impact statement.

2. Tell stories. A number of speakers emphasized the power of personal stories (contextualized by data) to carry the message about how new policies will adversely affect local residents and communities as a whole. In addition to supporting storytelling by their grant partners, local funders can use their own communications infrastructure to share stories, and develop strategies for using stories to educate, organize, and advocate around key policy issues. (See Working Narratives’ “Storytelling and Social Change” guides for information on storytelling strategies for funders.)

3. Support innovation. While politicians in Washington have battled gridlock, cities are developing local policy solutions to address social and economic equity. Oakland’s marijuana equity permitting program, which fosters economic opportunity among residents of neighborhoods disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests, is a case in point.

4. Think federally. Although state and local policy environments may be easier to navigate, speakers urged funders not to forsake engagement in federal policy, the locus of vital anti-poverty programs. In addition to funding national advocacy organizations, speakers underscored the importance of supporting independent policy research institutes such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (which coordinates with a network of 40 state policy research organizations) and the Center for American Progress, which provide valuable analysis and impact statements across a variety of policy issues.

5. Organize locally. Local action has been a keystone of successful advocacy in recent years, but scant philanthropic support flows to local organizing groups. Speakers suggested supporting the capacity of local groups for rapid resistance and response, ensuring not only that your community has a voice in the policy process, but that it is prepared to connect to common policy strategies and emerging narratives at the state and national levels.