Leadership

Collaborate to Advocate

By /
Dec 1, 2012

How well do nonprofits stand up for themselves?

Dan Pallotta’s ideas about changing nonprofits may not work for everybody, but data support his concerns about how well the sector looks out for its own interests. Last fall the nonprofit leadership organization Independent Sector released a study titled Beyond the Cause, which looked into the state of nonprofit advocacy. Among its findings: Nonprofits need to better organize collectively to support their industry, but they’re hampered by a lack of resources, intra-organizational conflicts, and reluctant boards.

“This work would require a significant shift in the status quo—a reimagined structure for convening and harnessing the assets of sector organizations with stronger incentives for collaboration,” the report says.

As part of the study, Independent Sector surveyed organizations they called “likely to be engaged in sector-wide issues” on a number of questions. The most popular strategy for increasing policy influence is increasing public awareness: 28 percent of respondents rank it as a top strategy, well ahead of increasing relationships with policymakers, which 13 percent ranked as a top strategy. And when it comes to advocating for improvements to the Form 990, here’s what respondents said were the five most effective strategies:

  • Have relationships with relevant policymakers.
  • Have credible research on this issue.
  • Have strong leadership that helps align goals/actions.
  • Communicate with other organizations.
  • Regularly coordinate actions with other organizations.

The full report is available here.

Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »

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