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Nonprofits and Advocacy

Engaging Community and Government in an Era of Retrenchment

When the Susan G. Komen foundation pulled funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast exam program, the public uproar brought new focus to the high political and economic stakes faced by nonprofit organizations. The missions of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations, political action committees, and now Super PACs have become blurred as issues of advocacy and political influence have become increasingly entangled.

Questions abound: Should a nonprofit advocate for its mission and its constituents with a goal of affecting public policy? What are the limits of such advocacy work? Will such efforts fundamentally jeopardize nonprofit work? What can studies of nonprofit advocacy efforts reveal? Editors Robert J. Pekkanen, Steven Rathgeb Smith, and Yutaka Tsujinaka recognize the urgent need for relevant research and insight into these issues as direct and indirect government services are squeezed by federal cutbacks.

Nonprofits and Advocacy defines advocacy and clarifies the differences among advocacy, lobbying, political activity, and education, as well as advocacy measurements. Providing original empirical data and innovative theoretical arguments, this comparative study is organized into two parts. The first part focuses on local and national dimensions of nonprofit advocacy, and the second part looks at organizational politics and strategies. The conclusion considers basic questions about nonprofit advocacy and seeks to draw lessons from research efforts and practice.

Providing a critical look at the multidimensional roles and advocacy efforts of nonprofits, this volume will be valued by scholars, students, leaders, and activists—many of whom advocate for the interests of their organizations while delivering services to their organizations' constituents. The research is also relevant for policymakers involved in cross-sector public policy initiatives as they strive to provide more efficient public-private solutions to challenging governance issues.

About the Authors

Robert J. Pekkanen is an associate professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. Steven Rathgeb Smith is executive director of the American Political Science Association and affiliate professor in the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Yutaka Tsujinaka is the president-elect of the Japanese Political Science Association and a professor of political science in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Tsukuba.

Endorsementss

Seasoned practitioners deep in the trenches of nonprofit advocacy will enjoy pausing to reflect on various insights offered by this collection of scholarly studies. The book can prompt questions about ways to cross-fertilize approaches and spark innovative ideas for advancing nonprofits’ missions for the communities they serve.

- Tim Delaney, President and CEO, National Council of Nonprofits

The subtitle says it all—the policy issue is how the nonprofit community can advocate successfully for adequate social services when government seems determined to withdraw from the social sector. The volume collects analyses from the leading scholars in the field and gives us hope that more focused and intelligent advocacy can restore social welfare to the public agenda.

- Stanley N. Katz, Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University

This edited volume provides a most welcome collection of excellent empirical chapters on key aspects of nonprofit advocacy on national and subnational levels. The variety of methods employed (content analysis of historical documents, case studies, interviews, surveys) and topics examined offer particularly rich portraits of this complex but critical domain.

- Kirsten A. Gronbjerg, Director, Indiana Nonprofit Sector, Indiana University

Nonprofits and Advocacy comes just in time. It is a very important volume for various reasons. Firstly, it goes far beyond the so-called business talk of current nonprofit research. Focusing on advocacy as a genuine and distinctive feature of nonprofit activity, the volume expands our knowledge of the impact of nonprofit activity distinctively. Secondly, advocacy and lobbying, genuine segments of the life of NPOs, that are carrying prime importance for the further advancement of civil society, are finally back on the nonprofit research agenda. Furthermore, the contributions in the volume draw on the results of empirical research in this particular field of study, which – with a few exceptions - has been neglected by the NPO-research community for quite a while. And, the volume, for a very first time, sheds light on the distinctiveness and complexity of the various venues of how nonprofits engage in advocacy on behalf of their clients, their members and first of all on behalf of the wellbeing of the community at large. This, in particular, makes the volume a "must have" for everybody who is either working in the nonprofit field or is an aficionado of nonprofit activity.

- Annette Zimmer, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Reviews

This volume provides important data and expertly identifies gaps in our understanding. It is an important and well-crafted book that deserves a wide readership.

- Susan M. Chambre - Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Johns Hopkins University Press
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320 Pages
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