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Advocacy, Grantmaking, and Civic Organizations

Industry Overview
Advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations in the United States, at some point, affect everyone's life. In every State, these types of organizations are working to better their communities by directly addressing issues of public concern through service, independent action, or civic engagement. These organizations span the political spectrum of ideas and encompass every aspect of human endeavor, from symphonies to little leagues, and from homeless shelters and day care centers to natural resource conservation advocates. These organizations often are collectively called "nonprofits," a name that is used to describe institutions and organizations that are neither government nor business. Other names often used include the not-for-profit sector, the third sector, the independent sector, the philanthropic sector, the voluntary sector, or the social sector. Outside the United States, these organizations often are called nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society organizations.

These other names emphasize the characteristics that distinguish advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations from businesses and government. Unlike businesses, these organizations do not exist to make money for owners or investors, but that doesn't mean that they cannot charge fees or sell products that generate revenue, or that revenue must not exceed expenses. Instead, these groups are dedicated to a specific mission that enhances the social fabric of society. Unlike government, these organizations are not able to mandate changes through legislation or regulations enforceable by law. Instead, they work toward the mission of their organization by relying on a small group of paid staff and the voluntary service and financial support of large numbers of their members or the public. This industry includes four main segments: business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations, civic and social organizations, social advocacy organizations, and grantmaking and giving services.

Industry Organizaion 
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations comprised about 50 percent of the advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations industry establishments. Business associations are primarily engaged in promoting the business interests of their members. They include organizations such as chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and manufacturers' and trade associations. They may conduct research on new products and services; develop market statistics; sponsor quality and certification standards; lobby public officials; or publish newsletters, books, or periodicals for distribution to their members. Professional organizations seek to advance the interests of their members and their profession as a whole. Examples of professional associations are health professional and bar associations. Labor organizations promote the interests of the labor union members they represent by negotiating improvement in wages, benefits, and working conditions. They persuade workers to become members of a union and then seek the right to represent them in collective bargaining with their employer. Political organizations promote the interests of national, State, or local political parties and their candidates for elected public positions. Included are political groups organized to raise funds for a political party or individual candidates, such as political action committees (PACs). A variety of other similar organizations also are included in this segment of the advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations industry. They include athletic associations that regulate or administer various sports leagues, conferences, or even entire sports at the amateur or professional level. Also included in this segment are condominium and homeowners' associations, property owners' associations, and tenant associations.

About 24 percent of the establishments in the advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations industry are associated with civic and social organizations engaged in promoting the civic and social interests of their members. These organizations include alumni associations, automobile clubs, booster clubs, youth scouting organizations, and parent-teacher associations. This segment also includes social clubs, fraternal lodges, ethnic associations, and veterans' membership organizations, some of which may operate bars and restaurants for their members.

Social advocacy organizations, which comprise 15 percent of advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organization establishments, promote a particular cause or work for the realization of a specific social or political goal to benefit either a broad segment of the population or a specific constituency. They often solicit contributions and offer memberships to support their activities. There are three types of social advocacy organizations: human rights organizations; environment, conservation, and wildlife organizations; and all other social advocacy organizations. Human rights organizations address issues, such as protecting and promoting the broad constitutional rights and civil liberties of individuals and those suffering from neglect, abuse, or exploitation. They also may promote the interests of specific groups, such as children, women, senior citizens, or persons with disabilities; work to improve relations between racial, ethnic, and cultural groups; or promote voter education and registration. Environment, conservation, and wildlife organizations promote the preservation and protection of the environment and wildlife. They address issues such as clean air and water; conserving and developing natural resources, including land, plant, water, and energy resources, and protecting and preserving wildlife and endangered species. Other social advocacy organizations address issues such as peace and international understanding; organize and encourage community action; or advance social causes, such as firearms safety, drunk driving prevention, and drug abuse awareness.

Grantmaking and giving services comprised about 11 percent of advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations establishments and include grantmaking foundations, voluntary health organizations, and establishments primarily engaged in raising funds for a wide range of social welfare activities, such as health, educational, scientific, and cultural activities. Grantmaking foundations, also called charitable trusts, award grants from trust funds based on a competitive selection process or on the preferences of the foundation managers and grantors; some fund a single entity, such as a museum or university. There are two types of grantmaking foundations—private foundations and public foundations. Most of the funds of a private foundation come from one source—an individual, a family, or a corporation. Public foundations, in contrast, normally receive their funds from multiple sources, which may include private foundations, individuals, government agencies, and fees for services. Moreover, public foundations must continue to seek money from diverse sources in order to retain their public status. Voluntary health organizations are primarily engaged in raising funds for health-related research, such as the development of new treatments for diseases like cancer or heart disease, disease awareness and prevention, or health education.

Recent Developments 
Advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations receive the revenue that makes possible their operations from a variety of sources. Some organizations receive most of their funds from private contributions. Many organizations have experienced an increase in donors, stemming partially from more favorable treatment of donations by tax laws. Also, estates of many members of the Depression generation (those born during the 1920s and 1930s) have donated large sums to these organizations. However, many advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations—such as nonprofit hospitals and universities—generate revenue by charging fees for the services they provide, earning interest on investments, or producing and selling goods.

The formation of joint ventures or partnerships between advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations and corporations also has risen. The last few years also have seen a rise in three-sector partnerships formed between an advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organization, a corporation, and a government agency. These partnerships have ensured a steady flow of income to the advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations industry and increased public awareness of these organizations and the importance of their missions. On the corporate side, partnerships help sell corporate products, enhance the civic image of the corporation, and allow corporations to provide additional revenue to advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations, which have traditionally relied on simple donations.

New information technology also is increasing the capacity of advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations to advocate their causes and to raise funds. Interactive Web sites, e-mail and electronic philanthropy, and electronically generated databases have transformed the way these organizations communicate with the public, grantmakers, and donors. These advancements have reduced the costs of gathering constituents and connecting to policymakers and allies. These technological advancements also have changed the way charitable organizations interact with government and its agencies as they continue to use "e-services" in order to remain efficient. For advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations, these advances provide an opportunity to reduce their paperwork, increase their efficiency in responding to regulatory demands, and improve their organizational capabilities. The Internet will continue to change the way these organizations collect and report data, and lead to greater consolidation of Federal and State regulatory demands on the industry.

Working Environment 
Seventy percent of the workers in advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations worked full time; the remainder worked part-time or variable schedules. Most workers spend the majority of their time in offices functioning in a team environment, often working with volunteers. The work environment may differ depending on the size of the organization. For those who work in small organizations, the equipment is sometimes outdated and their workspace cramped. But, in larger, well-funded organizations, conditions are very similar to those in most business offices. The work environment generally is positive—workers know that their work helps people and improves their communities.
Top executives and workers responsible for fundraising may travel frequently to meet with supporters and potential donors, often in evenings and on weekends. Fundraising can be highly stressful because the financial health of the organization depends on being successful. Workers employed in the delivery of social services also work in very stressful environments because many of their clients are struggling with a wide range of problems related to child care, child welfare, juvenile justice, addiction, health, unemployment, and inadequate workforce skills.

Advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations have 1.3 million wage and salary jobs in the United States. About 73 percent of them were in civic, social, professional, or similar organizations. Advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations establishments are found throughout the nation, but the greatest numbers of jobs are found in California and New York, the States with the greatest population. Most establishments in this industry are small; the majority of jobs are in establishments that employ fewer than 50 people.

Many organizations need marketing or technological expertise and often hire someone from the for-profit sector, especially if that person has volunteer experience. Some individuals with degrees in STEM and Healthcare find that their careers lead to working at an advocacy, grantmaking, or civic organization that may represent those who work in a specific field.  For example, many engineers work at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, where they serve to support other engineers and the field of engineering in general.

 Industry Forecast
Wage and salary jobs in advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations are projected to increase 14 percent over the 2008-18 period, compared to 11 percent growth projected for all industries combined.

The continued growth in the economy and the workforce will drive demand for business, professional, and labor organizations. As new and emerging industries arise and as new workers enter the labor force, they will look to these groups to represent their interests. Many individuals and businesses also use these organizations as a resource to help them develop their careers or find new customers, which will continue to be important in a competitive economic environment.

Civic and social organizations will experience increased demand as the population grows and as people continue to value the interests and connections they make as part of these groups. In particular, as the population ages and as more people enter retirement, demand for organizations that cater to these individuals will increase.

Social and demographic shifts will also increase the demand for services offered by advocacy and grantmaking organizations. Increased demand for nonprofit services that these organizations organize, advocate, or solicit for will result from a rapidly growing elderly population. Other demographic shifts that will contribute to an increase in demand for nonprofit services include the growing numbers of immigrants and refugees; a high divorce rate creating more single parent households; more out-of-wedlock births; and greater ethnic and cultural diversity.

Directors and upper-level managers usually receive a salary. Entry-level salaries vary based on education, experience, and the size, budget, and geographic location of the association. The Nonprofit Times Annual Salary Survey reported the following average total compensation:

Executive director $149,427
Chief financial officer $97,248
Chief of direct marketing $89,032
Program director $80,228
Development director $74,355
Planned giving officer & major gifts officer $73,325
Director of human resources $66,755
Webmaster $57,085
Director of volunteers $41,894

Fringe benefits vary by region, sector, organization budget, geographic scope, number of employees, and type of organization. Most organizations appear to provide long-term disability, extended health care, dental, prescription drug, and life insurance coverage to all employees. Vision care has become a common benefit in the industry. Most employers pay all of their employees' insurance benefit premiums, but none of the coverage for their dependents. Only some organizations allow their employees to purchase additional life insurance beyond the basic benefit amount provided, but most hold the line at somewhat less than one year's salary, with one and two years' salary being common as well. Many advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations provide an automobile or car allowance to their senior managers, with most of them paying the entire cost for chief executive officers.

Related Degree Fields

Professional Associations

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.



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