Advocacy can take a variety of forms, from passively supporting valued organizations and causes to more forceful forms of activism such as participating in marches, boycotts, and protests. As in most social domains, advocacy in the social economy takes on many different meanings, and therefore involves a variety of objectives and strategies. This page introduces readers to a variety of resources, links and organizations that promote advocacy in and around the social economy. Advocacy and the Social Economy provides an overview of what advocacy is and why it is an integral component of the social economy. General Guides and Resources, offers a variety of links, readings, and videos to check out for a better understanding of how to do advocacy and why it is critical to social transformation. Advocacy vs. Lobbying draws largely on external links to underscore why and how advocacy and lobbying are distinct. Advocacy Networks, provides an overview of local, national and international organizations and websites relevant to advocating for ideas and interests linked to the social economy.
Actively seeking to affect public policy causes in private, governmental and social institutions is the practice of advocacy. Groups and individuals engaged in such activity are driven by ideas or ethical imperatives with the benefit of vulnerable entities or society as a whole in mind. Advocacy can include various methods such as research, networking, and media dissemination to promote awareness and action.
The social economy integrates community development with economic prosperity. Enterprise and fiscal administration are guided by principles of social justice, communal welfare and collaborative creativity. Advocacy is essential in fostering these principles. Through education and interaction individuals are opened to the social economy’s culture of civic engagement and solidarity that strives for positive social change.
For more information about what advocacy means and its use in social initiatives see the following NP Action document:
Other Economies Are Possible is publication written by a collective of economists, journalists, and activists (such as Ethan Miller, Jessica Gordon Nembhard and Betsy Bowman to a name of few of its collaborators), which not only provides a good explanation of how the social economy works, but most also vividly depicts the role and practice of advocacy in local, national and international solidarity networks.
Most importantly the article provides exceptional information and resources on the social economy and its networks: click for pdf
Advocacy in the social economy is best explained in Ethan Millers article Solidarity Economics in which Miller through his pointed definition of solidarity economy exemplifies the shape and function advocacy takes on in the social economy: click for pdf
Best Practices: Combining Social Enterprise with Community Action
“…it is not necessary to convert millions first or to overturn the State in order to get great changes made. Groups of reformers can begin anywhere, gaining experience and practical competence in managing affairs… and this excites enthusiasm whereas the heart grows sad and cynical when it waits for elected majorities of idealists to lay hold of the machinery of government to reconstruct Society” – AE Guilds and Cooperatives in Italy
Mandela Marketplace is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through cooperative food enterprises in low-income communities.
This short clip depicts how organizations such as the Mandela Market Place Cooperative in Oakland, California practice advocacy in social economy sector.
Common Good Finance serves as a resource for communities seeking greater autonomy in their economic development. Neighborhoods can advocate for local non-profits and public projects using the Common Good Bank’s system of democratically decided budgets and investments.
Equal Exchange provides organic produce traded fairly from farmer cooperatives in Asia, Africa and Latin America who practice sustainable farming.
Using social media and diverse fundraising avenues Equal Exchange advocates strengthening workplace democracy and its impact on equitable food distribution and ecologically sensitive agricultural practices.
Although not commonly known in the US, the social economy has been studied by academics and has inspired various model organizations. These inquiries and cases have produced theories and empirical data relating to the role of advocacy. Listed are non-profits, government offices and other institutions with tools and information for those who want to participate in social economy advocacy.
Advocacy Concepts & Practices
Advocacy Strategies and Approaches
Steve Buckley’s article provides an excellent overview on the global history of advocacy, techniques and its implementation. It is located on the Association for Progressive Communications Website toolkit. APC provides logistic support and IT education for people and initiatives working toward social change.
Advocacy by Nonprofits: Roles and Practices of Core Advocacy Organizations and Direct Service Agencies
Sara Kimberlin of UC Berkeley defines nonprofit advocacy as direct and indirect measures. Further is an outline of advocacy’s organizational characteristics and quantified observations on its prevalence.
Make Democracy Work
One of the best all-purpose guides about advocacy. It provides resources for effective advocacy in a democratic society, offering advocacy tools and strategies such as: training and workshops, technical assistance, publications, online resources, (including guidance on state advocacy laws), public education and a voice for the sector to protect and strengthen policies that support nonprofit advocacy.
Published by the Alliance for Justice, an umbrella organization whose mission is to strengthen the capacity of the public interest community to influence public policy.
Advocacy Activities in Nonprofit Human Service Organizations: Implications for Policy
By Hillel Schmid, Michal Bar and Ronit Nirel provides an academic perspective to advocacy. Schmid et al define advocacy as attempts to change policies or influence the decisions of any institutional elite, government, and state institutions through enhancement of civic participation to promote a collective goal or interest.
A good source for information on advocacy because it explains the historical roots of advocacy in the United States and illustrates how advocacy is an important part of social change, delineating the different types of advocacy strategies utilized in the social economy sector.
http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper40.html – explains that advocacy comprises a wide range of expressions, actions and activities that seek to influence outcomes directly affecting the lives of the people served by the organization. It is important to understand that all social enterprises advocate to varying degrees. For some, advocacy is the focus of their work, while other organizations may use advocacy to respond to issues pertaining to their mission.
The Power of Knowledge page on the National Council of Nonprofits website describes the importance of advocacy in the social economy sector, emphasizing that advocacy is legal, needed and easy. Please follow this link to get more information on the importance of advocacy: http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/nonprofit-advocacy/power-knowledge
Additional links providing resources for non-profit advocacy
The Urban Institute: publishes studies, reports and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The Institute is currently involved in a research initiative on nonprofit advocacy. See http://www.urban.org/nonprofits/index.cfm
Council of Non-profits: through public policy, research, weekly publications and special leadership events Council of Non-profits provides advocacy and capacity building resources and information for non-profit organizations in the social economy. See http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/nonprofit-advocacy
NP Action: an online resource that provides tools and information for nonprofit advocacy. It provides a constantly updated mix of information and tools, drawn from the expertise of organizations and seasoned advocates across a wide range of advocacy activities and policy disciplines, in order to encourage greater participation by nonprofits in the policy arena. See http://www.npaction.org/article/archive/226
Alliance of Arizona Non-profits: a unifying association formed in 2004 to advance the common interests of more than 20,000 nonprofits in the Grand Canyon State. It provides quality information, training, and networking opportunities; support the nonprofit sector by offering savings through group-buying discount programs and protect the nonprofit sector by representing the nonprofit sector at the Arizona Legislature, state agencies that regulate nonprofits, and many other local arenas of decision making across the state. See http://www.arizonanonprofits.org/resources/resources.aspx
Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Non-profit Innovation: through research, education, and outreach activities the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation provides knowledge and tools that enhance the effectiveness of those who govern, manage, provide programs and services, volunteer for and support nonprofit organizations. See: http://lodestar.asu.edu/
Additional Links to Relevant Government Sites
White House Office of Social Innovation and Social Innovation: The Office is focused on doing business differently by promoting service as a solution and a way to develop community leadership; increasing investment in innovative community solutions that demonstrate results; and developing new models of partnership.
USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Services: Rural Development, Business and Cooperative Programs (BCP) works in partnership with the private sector and community-based organizations to provide financial assistance and business planning. BCP helps fund projects that create or preserve quality jobs and/or promote a clean rural environment. Recipients of these programs may include individuals, corporations, partnerships, cooperatives, public bodies, nonprofit corporations, Indian tribes, and private companies. See: www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/
Useful Books and Articles
Andrews, K & Edwards B. (2004). Advocacy Organizations in the U.S. Political Process. Annual Review of Sociology. 30:479-506.
Avner, M. (2002). Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations: Shaping Public Policy at the State and Local Level. St. Paul, MN: Wilder Publishing Center.
Boris, E & Krehely J. (2002). ‘Civic Participation and Advocacy. Pp. 299-330 in Lester A. Salamon, ed., State of Nonprofit America. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Jenkins, C. (2006). ‘Nonprofit Organizations and Political Advocacy. In Walter W.Powell and Richard S. Steinberg, eds. The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Larner, W. & Craig D. (2005). ‘After Neoliberalism? Community Activism and Local Partnerships in Aotearoa New Zealand. Antipode 37:402-424.
Sen, R. (2003). Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
In the context of American politics the term lobbying has negative connotations. Lobbying in the United States is associated with “vested” special interest groups and public policy-making. It is important not to confuse advocacy with lobbying and understand that advocacy covers a much broader range of activities that might, or might not, include lobbying. According to the Arizona State University Lodestar Center website, one way of differentiating between the two terms is to understand that lobbying always involves advocacy but advocacy does not necessarily involve lobbying.
The ASU Lodestar Center: The Center of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation defines advocacy as explicit support on behalf of an idea or issue, while lobbying is advocating a point of view in attempting to influence legislation through a member or employee of a legislative body or government official.
NP Action: this online advocacy tool center states that lobbying has strict legal and IRS restrictions and definitions while advocacy is activity that a person or organization undertakes to influence policies.
It is important to understand that lobbying by social economy organizations is legal.
The following link on the National Council of Non-profits website provides detailed information on legality of non-profit lobbying according to IRS and U.S. Statues: http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/nonprofit-advocacy/501h-election
This is a great resource because it even provides instructions on how to file IRS 501(h)g election form which gives non-profits the opportunity to safely engage in lobbying activities.
Why is lobbying important?
It is critical for passing legislation and/or regulations to advance your cause.
A great example of this is the Massachusetts Law for Worker Cooperatives. For an account of the history of the first American statute exclusively for worker cooperatives and used as a model for similar laws enacted in CT, ME, VT, WA, OR, and NY, see Peter Pitegoff’s The Massachusetts Law For Worker Cooperatives: MGL Chapter 157A available for purchase from the International Cooperative Alliance website
For more information on the parameters of Lobbying in Arizona see the following Statues:
Arizona State Legislatures’ Regulation of Lobbyists [[Title 41, Article 8.1] see http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=41
For the Arizona State Legislatures’ Lobbying Code of Conduct: conflict of interest of Officers and Employees [Title 38, Article 8] go to: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=38
Social Economy Networks
U.S. Solidarity Economy Network: The Center for Popular Economics is a non-profit collective of political economists based in Amherst, MA. They provide programs and publications, which simplify the economy and put useful economic tools in the hands of people fighting for social and economic justice.
Grassroots Economic Organizing: a decentralized collective of educators, researchers and grassroots activists working to promote an economy based on democratic participation, worker and community ownership, social and economic justice, and ecological sustainability–a “solidarity economy”–through grassroots journalism, organizing support, cross-sector networking and movement-building and the publication of educational and organizational resources.
Global Economic Alternatives Network: based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the GEAN proposes to analyze and monitor the emergence of ‘best practice’ alternative economic initiatives and principles, with a focus on how these activities conjugate new, egalitarian work organizations with environmental sustainability, healthy/quality production of goods and services and mutual social and economic assistance.
Justice Alternative Sustainable Economics: facilitator of communication amongst activists who are seeking to developing economic alternatives in a variety of arenas, providing resources that encourage networks, institutions, shared resources and training to support the development of grassroots economic projects.
Transformation Central: aims to provide an introduction to the solidarity economy. They include a summary of key aspects of the solidarity economy, written by the Social/Solidarity Economy Coordinating Group for the USSF, and provide some helpful links to assist in further research. They also provide maps of solidarity economy organizations (worker cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, student cooperatives, cohousing, community supported agriculture, and fair trade businesses).
Rocky Mountain Center for Economic Democracy: provides education, advocacy, and technical assistance to support the startup and successful operation of worker-owned cooperative businesses.
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE): SAJE is an economic justice and popular education center that has been building economic power for working class people in Los Angeles since 1996.
ALOE Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and Solidarity Economy: rallies actors from various disciplines for its central task of collectively designing, reflection, exchange, promote and implement a responsible, plural and solidarity economy (RPSE).
Alliance 21 (Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World): an informal network made of people, institutions and movements that are aware of the complexity of contemporary problems and seek to find the necessary mutations, inventing new forms of collective action.
International Co-operative Alliance: is an independent, non-governmental association that unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide. ICA facilitates contacts between co-operatives for trading purposes and intelligence sharing in a wide range of areas. It organizes meetings and workshops to address key issues affecting co-operatives and allows discussion among co-operators from around the world.
De Comunidad a Comunidad (Community to Community Development) is a grassroots organization that promotes the equitable access to the democratic process for all. It facilitates this through programs and projects including creating free public space, immigration justice projects, community dialogues, having a food justice alliance and working on relationships of self-reliance and community building.
Localized in Arizona
Arizona Cooperative Initiative: purpose is to build an interactive system for cooperative business development and develop a comprehensive, integrated system of cooperative businesses and entities for both launch and expanding into an even larger group of cooperatives. In other words: A cooperative built for the purpose of creating, promoting and supporting Arizona cooperatives.
Local First Arizona: is a non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through supporting, maintaining, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state of Arizona.
Social Justice/Community Activist Networks
Alliance for Justice: a national association of more than 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. For 30 years they have been leaders in the fight for a more equitable society on behalf of a broad constituency of environmental, consumer, civil and women’s rights, children’s, senior citizens’ and other groups.
Alternatives International: established a network of websites to provide analysis and information that will service progressive social movements, strengthening networks by bringing together urban social movements and developing new initiatives for young activists through internships and exchange.
Hacktivismo: an international group of hackers, human rights workers, lawyers and artists that conduct and publish scientific research in the areas of information technology, communications and electronic media; and assist (where possible) non-governmental organizations, social justice groups and human rights entities in the use of advanced information technologies for the furtherance of their works.
The Groundswell Collective: dedicated to critical cultural production at the intersection of art and activism.
Center for Community Change seeks to advocate and change the living condition, public policy measures and communities for low-income people. They have a multitude of external partners, job and internship opportunities and shared practices that they offer to other organizations.
Center for Urban Pedagogy strives to educate and promulgate information to individuals and groups dedicated to the advancement of socially just public policy. On their website, individuals can find projects, policy briefs and guidelines for advocates, organizations and researchers.
Take Part is a leading source of socially relevant news, features, opinion, entertainment and information – all focused on the issues that shape our lives. At the heart of everything we do is a belief that a story well told can change the world. That’s why our mission is singular: To inspire and accelerate social change by connecting content to social action.
Localized in Arizona
Arizona Advocacy Network: promotes social, economic, racial and environmental justice by connecting and building power among activists and leaders in those fields, and by leading efforts for electoral justice and increased civic participation.
Arizona Hispanic Community Forum: an advocacy organization that coalesces with other organizations on civil and human rights issues so as to educate and ensure that the public and private sector provide equal access and fair treatment for Hispanics
Arizona Institute for Peace Education and Research (AIPER): tries to empower members-through education, research, and advocacy-to take effective action on behalf of peace, social justice, and a sustainable environment.
Tucson Peace Center: maintains an online calendar of events related to peace, justice, and environmental issues so as to promote the cause of peace, social justice, labor equity and sustainable environment movements in Arizona.
Local to Global Arizona State University (ASU): a group composed of students, faculty members, and community members, who educate ASU students and the greater community about issues of local and global justice, while promoting diversity, freedom of speech, and academic freedom of discussion.
Labor Activist Networks
International Labor Organization (ILO): an international organization responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labor standards. It is the only ‘tripartite’ United Nations agency that brings together representatives of governments, employers and workers to jointly shape policies and programmes promoting Decent Work for all.
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union: UFCW has ongoing community initiatives such as Volunteer in Politics, Feeding the Hungry and Making Change at Wal-Mart.
Laborers’ International Union of North America: involved in community infrastructure reform and fairer immigration policies.
Service Employees International Union: provides public services at the local level by curbing privatization of community centers and developing child care services for vulnerable employees.
The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA): Since its inception in 1972, LCLAA has remained a grassroots organization driven and directed by Latino labor leaders who understand the importance of unionization in helping workers secure rights and protections on the job, empowering them to become voices for justice and change in their communities.
Localized in Arizona
AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations): the voice of Arizona’s labor movement whose priorities are legislative lobbying, creating a positive image of Arizona’s union members and organizing communities to foster labor justice.
Arizona Worker Rights Center: Arizona’s only worker rights center. They provide service to the community including filing worker claims with the courts and government agencies and are working to build community and address the current socio-political climate in Arizona.
Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy: adverse group of community leaders committed to raising living standards for all Arizona families through community education, increasing civic participation, leadership development, coalition building, and strengthening partner organizations.
Salt of the Earth Labor College: a place for working people to come together and learn about the political, economic social and cultural forces shaping our lives.
Innovation and Entrepreneurial Networks
Social Innovation Exchange: a forum which allows people around the world to search for and link to organizations working in social innovation, discover projects, build contacts, and access and share resources about social innovation.
Partners for Democratic Change: over the past two decades, Partners has built a global network of independent, sustainable local Centers led by world-class experts in change and conflict management. Together, Partners and the Partners Centers have provided negotiation, cooperative advocacy, consensus-building and other skills to thousands of business, civil society and government leaders in more than 50 countries.
Innovation Network: provide program planning and evaluation consulting, training, and web-based tools to nonprofits and fundraisers across geographic and programmatic boundaries.
Localized in Arizona
Alliance for Innovation: an international network of progressive governments and partners committed to transforming local government by accelerating the development and dissemination of innovations. The Alliance for Innovation promotes excellence in local governments by seeking out innovative practices, challenging existing business models, exchanging knowledge and providing products and services that help members perform at their best.
Energy Innovation Network: a Kauffman Foundation initiative, this online network connects researchers, entrepreneurs, buyers, investors and decision-makers to support high-growth energy businesses.
Environmental and Ecological Advocacy Networks
Earth Foundation: empowering educators and students to work toward a sustainable economy, a just society and a healthy environment. Focus is on education, fundraising for conservation, and cooperative programs with conservation groups and indigenous organizations working to preserve balanced ecological systems internationally.
Environmental Defense Fund: a leading national nonprofit organization representing more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, EDF has linked science, economics and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems.
Localized in Arizona
Arizona Clean & Beautiful: nonprofit organization that utilizes partnerships, educational efforts, volunteerism and charitable actions to safeguard the environmental quality and beauty of Arizona.
Highland Center for Natural History: natural science education organization promoting ecological stewardship with workshops, field studies and other activities.
The Southwest Conservation Corp: SCC engages and trains a diverse group of young women and men and completes conservation projects for the public benefit.
Rural Development & Fair Trade Networks
Co-op America: provides a plethora of information on how to be an ethical consumer.
The Equal Exchange: The oldest and largest for-profit fair trade company in the United States, run as a cooperative.
Fairtrade USA: is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the US
Localized in Arizona
Black Mesa Water Coalition: dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities. BMWC strives to empower young people while building sustainable communities.
Fair Trade Café: supports sustainable economic independence and fair trade for communities locally and across the globe and is committed to supporting local business and urban renewal in Downtown Phoenix.