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40 J. Soc. & Soc. Welfare 119 (2013)
Specialists, Generalists, and Policy Advocacy by Charitable Nonprofit Organizations

handle is hein.journals/jrlsasw40 and id is 322 raw text is: Specialists, Generalists, and Policy Advocacy by
Charitable Nonprofit Organizations
University of Massachusetts Boston
Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs
Previous research finds modest levels of engagement in policy advo-
cacy by charitable nonprofits, despite legal regulations permitting
nonprofit advocacy and the significance of public policy to non-
profit constituencies. This paper examines nonprofit involvement
in policy advocacy using survey data from Boston, Massachusetts.
Nonprofit participation in policy advocacy is associated with pro-
fessionalization, 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 nonprof-
its serving specialized populations are more likely to participate
in policy advocacy than nonprofits serving the general population.
Key words: nonprofit organizations, policy advocacy, population
ecology, specialist, generalist, resource dependence
Charitable nonprofit organizations provide a diverse
range of services, from homeless shelters and community-
based health clinics to after-school enrichment programs and
environmental conservation. As governments contract out the
provision of important public services to nonprofits, these or-
ganizations play an increasingly important role in public poli-
cies on the ground (Balassiano & Chandler, 2010; Hoefer &
Ferguson, 2007; Salamon, 1995; Smith & Lipskey, 1993; Smith
& Pekkanen, 2012). As providers of public services, charitable
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, June 2013, Volume XL, Number 2

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