Advocacy participation, structure, and strategy among nonprofit social service organizations
Mellinger, Marcela Ivonne
MetadataShow full item record
Championing the cause of the disadvantaged and oppressed has been a core value of the social work profession since its inception. As a practice strategy, advocacy has allowed social workers to raise their voices regarding issues affecting individuals, groups, and entire communities, and has allowed human service nonprofit organizations to respond to environmental factors influencing the services they provide. However, in spite of the seemingly important role of advocacy there is a paucity of research in this area, with the focus of the literature placed on legislative advocacy. In an effort to address this gap in knowledge, the purpose of this study was to explore the influence of institutional factors on the advocacy behavior of human service nonprofit organizations. The central questions that guided this study were: (1) what institutional factors predict overall participation in advocacy? (2) what institutional factors predict the structure of advocacy among human service organizations? And (3) what institutional factors predict organizations’ choice of specific advocacy targets? This quantitative exploratory-descriptive study employed a cross-sectional design. An electronic survey was sent to 345 organizations serving the Northeast Georgia region, which were selected through convenience sampling. Ninety-eight responses were received, of which 72 were included in the study. Logistic and multiple regression analyses were utilized to interpret data. Results suggested that as a group organizations are involved in advocacy; however, the level of participation is low. A majority of organizations reported doing advocacy, but when asked how often they go to their advocacy targets, they reported doing it infrequently. This was the case for all targets, which included legislators, administrators, court officials, and the community. Additionally, organizations reported having an advocacy structure, which was predicted by formalization. The more formalized organizations were, the higher theirs odds of having an advocacy structure. The study also showed that knowing the lobbying law was one significant predictor of advocacy targets, indicating that the more knowledge organizations have, the more likely they are to go to all the targets except the courts. Implications based on these findings were presented and recommendations for future research were made.