As this is my last issue as editor-in-chief before turning over the editorship to my worthy successors Alan Abramson, Stefan Toepler and Mirae Kim, we begin with a retrospective essay I have written on the first eleven and half years of this journal’s publication. I hope my personal observations on how the field of research on nonprofits and public policy has evolved, and on the challenges of developing and maintaining a scholarly journal in this field, will be helpful to readers, researchers and aspiring editors alike.
My essay is followed by five research articles focused largely on nonprofit-government relations and policy advocacy. The first paper, by Katja Levy and Anja Ketels, is a comparative study of state-nonprofit sector cooperation in Germany and China in the field of migration services. Despite the very different governmental regimes in these countries, the authors find surprisingly similar practices in their top-down and bottom-up approaches, with respect to outsourcing of public services to nonprofit organizations, and network governance among nonprofit providers.
The next paper, by Maria Apolonia Calderon, Daniel Chand and Daniel Hawes, turns our attention to immigrant serving organizations in the United States, through a national survey. The authors find that these organizations differ from most human services delivery nonprofits in their greater levels of engagement in policy advocacy, especially those organizations that have declared their advocacy work through the so-called H election in their tax filings.
Public policy advocacy is also the focus of our third research paper by Elizabeth Bell, Alisa Fryar and Tyler Johnson. These scholars conducted experimental research and found that knowledge of the involvement of nonprofits in policy advocacy on a given issue can favorably influence public opinion, but this depends on whether or not that issue is politically controversial.
The next paper, by Andrew Williams and Dana Doan, offers an analysis of the history of the organization Independent Sector (IS) as a public voice for the nonprofit sector in the United States on policy issues affecting the sector. The authors analyze the tensions IS has faced, between representing the sector in unified fashion, which favored larger national nonprofit institutions and foundations, and attending to the sector’s pluralism and local interests.
Our fifth research paper, by Jennifer Alexander and Kandyce Fernandez, also addresses tensions in the nonprofit sector, those that pit its role in political advocacy and social change against the growing professionalism and economic rationalization that have emerged under the governing philosophy of neoliberalism. The authors employ critical inquiry to parse out the various manifestations of these tensions.
These research articles certainly make clear that policy advocacy remains a critical and imperfectly understood aspect of the role of nonprofits in the public policy process. Our book review by David Campbell only reinforces this point. Campbell reviews the new book Quest for Attention by Chao Guo and Gregory Saxton. This pioneering book analyzes the role and efficacy of social media in nonprofit advocacy work, a new frontier of advocacy going forward in the twenty-first century.
I hope you enjoy this issue and will continue to read and contribute to Nonprofit Policy Forum as the new editorial administration takes over in the next issue.
Dennis R. Young
© 2021 Dennis R. Young, published by De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.