About Sara Matlin

Sara graduated with a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. She’s a licensed attorney in the State of California. Most recently, she served as Senior Bilingual Counsel with Bolder Advocacy at Alliance for Justice. Before that, she was a legal aid attorney for tenants and domestic violence survivors, a Spanish/English interpreter, and a community organizer.

Sara is the leader of the ACLU – North Peninsula Chapter’s Rapid Response Team and a founder of the San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights. The ACLU of Northern California honored Sara with the 2023 Lola Hanzel Courageous Advocacy Award, which recognizes “individuals who have a demonstrated commitment to civil liberties by giving generously of their time, talents, and support to preserve and defend the Bill of Rights.”

Legal and Nonprofit Experience

  • More than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit field
  • Former community organizer and current community activist
  • Nearly a decade helping nonprofit organizations and funders navigate nonprofit advocacy rules about:
  • Lobbying
  • Nonpartisan accountability advocacy
  • Nonpartisan voter and candidate engagement
  • Advocacy funding
  • Affiliated organizations and coalitions
  • California lobbying and ballot measures

Learn more about Matlin Legal’s Focus Areas

Matlin Legal Supports Nonprofits

Sara recognizes that your organization’s staff and volunteers are the experts in your issues and your community. You have the right to tell policymakers what rules, laws and investments are most equitable and effective.

Whether your organization is new to advocacy or experienced in the public policy arena, Sara’s practical approach to nonprofit advocacy rights and compliance honors your experience, as well as your limited time and resources. She supports 501(c)(3)s and (c)(4)s that are ramping up their lobbying and voter engagement, as well as foundations making grants to advance equity.

Types of organizations we assist

  • Nonprofits beginning their public policy advocacy
  • Experienced advocacy organizations and coalitions:
  • Engaging in new advocacy activities
  • Brushing up on their advocacy rights and responsibilities
  • Improving their advocacy compliance systems
  • Optimizing funding for advocacy activities
  • 501(c)(3) organizations navigating advocacy partnerships: coalitions, affiliated organizations, private foundations, etc.
  • Private and public foundations that fund organizations engaged in advocacy
  • Organizaciones con personal y voluntaries que prefieren aprender en español

Who benefits from Matlin Legal’s workshops and guidance? Almost everyone in your organization!

  • Management and senior staff, who often represent your organization in public, set your organization’s policies, explain and enforce these policies, and advocate to advance your organization’s mission;
  • Communications staff, who often make decisions about the public policy messaging your organization creates or shares with the community and need to understand which messages are high-risk (and which messages are lawful but need to be tracked);
  • Development staff, who need to understand your organization’s advocacy rights when seeking and reporting on grants, as well as explaining your needs and accomplishments to donors;
  • Operations and bookkeeping staff, who often handle your advocacy compliance, tracking, and reporting (with timesheets, expense reports, Forms 990, etc.) and manage funding according to grantmakers’ earmarks and restrictions;
  • Program, community outreach, engagement and, frontline staff, as well as canvassers who frequently interact with the public and may need to answer questions like, “Who should I vote for?” and “What does your organization think about this controversial issue?”; and
  • Board members, who, like your organization’s management and senior staff, may represent the organization in public, make crucial decisions about your organization’s community impact, and protect your organization from unnecessary risk.

Sara is particularly passionate about supporting organizations and funders that promote equity. Matlin Legal’s consulting rates and workshop fees are on a sliding scale. Your budget is one factor in determining your workshop cost. We also take into account additional factors, including the following priorities:

Priority Causes

  • Racial Justice
  • Criminal Justice
  • Immigrant Rights
  • Economic Rights (Workers’ Rights, Tenants’ Rights, etc.)
  • Disability Rights
  • Gender and Reproductive Justice

Priority factors for organizations

  • Your organization’s leaders and staff have experienced the impacts of the unjust policies your organization advocates to change (and you often have personal insight into the solutions you propose).
  • Your organization doesn’t have easy access to attorneys who can explain your nonprofit advocacy rights.
  • You compensate your highest-paid employee no more than five times what you compensate your lowest-paid employee.

Priority factors for foundations

  • You fund or hope to fund organizations engaged in the “priority causes” above.
  • You fund or hope to fund organizations engaged in public policy or community organizing.
  • You are using or hope to use the principles of Trust-Based Philanthropy

Get answers to your questions!

Schedule one free consultation with Sara (per organization)