Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Nonprofit organizations are characterized by both their programmatic and advocacy activity. Nonprofits are called on not only to provide essential services for many citizens, but also to advocate on the behalf of the issues impacting the populations they serve. An important advocacy activity engaged in by nonprofits is lobbying which is defined as communication directed at a legislative body with the intent to influence a legislative outcome (Raffa, 2000). Nonprofit lobbying is regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which ensures that lobbying does not constitute a substantial part of a nonprofit’s budget. Statistics show that few nonprofits report lobbying expenditure and that reported amounts account for a very small percentage of an organization’s budget.

Literature suggests that the source of a nonprofit’s revenue may play a significant role in predicting lobbying levels. Of special interest in the literature is the relationship between government funding and lobbying levels. Government funding is perceived to have a negative influence upon lobbying expenditure levels. This study seeks to examine the relationship between government funding and nonprofit lobbying expenditures while taking into consideration the influence of organizational capacity. Using 990 Form data from the IRS website and regression analysis, I examine the relationship between three revenue sources (government grants, program service revenue, and membership dues) and reported expenditures for lobbying.

The study finds the revenue variable of government grants to have a statistically significant impact on both a nonprofit organization’s decision to lobby and the dollar amount of lobbying. Conclusions must be regarded with care as the study faced limitations in data and design, as discussed at the end of this paper. A recommendation to overcome these limitations with future research is also included later in the paper.