Findings Friday | Metro Atlanta Nonprofit Performance, Part 2: Public Policy
In a study of nonprofit performance by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits in partnership with The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, nearly 400 organizations described their strategic planning practices and provide perspectives on public policy. This post is the second of a two-part series and will cover the study’s public policy and advocacy findings.
Do our actions align with our values? The study illustrates a significant programmatic disparity, juxtaposing the desire to and the actual implementation of policy and advocacy activities. While more than 90% of respondents agree that public policy work is a positive and necessary activity, more than 65% never or rarely engage in it.
What motivates us to act? When identifying potential motivators for advocacy engagement, two main catalysts arise: (1) negative policy events affecting the organization's funding and (2) receiving a mandate from an executive staff. Despite three-fourths of respondents acknowledging that state and federal policies impact their organization’s work, nonprofits aren’t likely to act—preemptively or reactively—unless prompted by their leadership. Further, a significant proportion of respondents indicate that advocacy is not a component of their strategic plan, setting a precedent of inactivity.
Do we have the capacity? Nonprofits are notoriously understaffed and underfunded, so it’s no surprise that there are barriers policy engagement. Of the 65% of nonprofits who do engage in policy work, less than half have a designated staff person and/or lobbyist dedicated to policy work. Interestingly, in comparing growth—size, scale, revenue and scope—among policy-engaged and disengaged organizations, there is no significant difference. This indicates the potential to onboard policy staff without stymieing the organization in other aspects.
Tommy Pearce is Communications Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.