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Strategies and stories of nonprofit advocacy in the US

A new book by Sydney Policy Lab research lead Amy Conley Wright offers timely insights on the advocacy activities of nonprofit organisations for researchers and practitioners alike.

In Nonprofits in policy advocacy: Their strategies and stories, authors Sheldon Gen & Amy Conley Wright (Palgrave Macmillan, August 2020) draw on surveys and interview with a broad range of U.S. nonprofit organisations across the United States to empirically derive six advocacy strategies used to seek policy change.

These strategies fall along a spectrum from emphasis on influencing formal policy actors to grassroots citizens and are discussed in relation to theories of the policy making process.

Each strategy is illustrated with stories of real policy advocacy campaigns addressing issues including environmental protection, civil rights, and youth.

These include the ‘Summer Slide’ case study, an example of the Institutional Partnerships strategy and sought to provide enriching summer learning opportunities to all children to combat educational inequality.

Additionally, the ‘Power Grab’ case study describes a successful campaign employing the Public Lobbying strategy, to defeat Proposition 16, which appeared on the June 2010 California ballot and would have amended the state’s Constitution to make it more difficult for public electricity providers to start-up or expand into territory currently served by privately owned electricity providers.

The book makes a significant scholarly contribution to policy studies and provides empirical and theoretical grounding for the social change work of nonprofit organizations.

In a virtual book launch event for the book, Professor Marc Stears of the Sydney Policy Lab chaired a discussion with the authors and two advocates whose advocacy campaigns were featured in the book.