Nonprofit organizations, policy advocacy, population ecology, specialist, generalist, resource dependence


Previous research finds modest levels of engagement in policy advocacy by charitable nonprofits, despite legal regulations permitting nonprofit advocacy and the significance of public policy to nonprofit constituencies. This paper examines nonprofit involvement in policy advocacy using survey data from Boston, Massachusetts. Nonprofit participation in policy advocacy is associated with professionalization, resource dependence, features of the institutional environment, and organizational characteristics such as size and mission. Drawing from population ecology theory, we examine an additional aspect of organizational mission: whether a nonprofit serves a specialized or general population. We find that nonprofits serving specialized populations are more likely to participate in policy advocacy than nonprofits serving the general population.

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