The Advocacy Universe: A Methodology to Identify Politically Active 501(C)(4) Organizations
This article provides a framework that defines politically active 501(c)(4)s organizations and describes a methodology for identifying them among more than 80,000 social welfare organizations. We estimate that approximately 15% of (c)(4)s likely pursue advocacy or political action, while most are engaged in unrelated activities. Understanding the distinctive features of the social welfare sector and the politically engaged organizations within it are essential tasks for nonprofit scholars, yet the methodological and empirical challenges are complex and significant. To date, there has been no systematic study of the nature and efficacy of these organizations. We create a multistage methodology that allows researchers to identify politically active (c)(4)s and to investigate subgroups focused on different policy issues and with different member groups. This article summarizes how we identify organizations and strategies needed to reveal whether an organization is engaged in political activities. We explain the approach we took and the challenges we encountered.
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
501(c)(4) organizations, advocacy, political action, social welfare organizations
Post, Margaret; Boris, Elizabeth; and Stimmel, Carol, "The Advocacy Universe: A Methodology to Identify Politically Active 501(C)(4) Organizations" (2022). International Development, Community, and Environment. 318.