Nonprofit Lobby Sagged with Economy

Lobbying by nonprofits has dropped slightly with the economic downturn, according to a First Street study.

We researched more than 300 nonprofit organizations, whittling down the list to 102 reporting lobby activity in Washington this year.

By setting current activity as a requirement, we omitted organizations that have stopped lobbying or even ceased operations altogether.

Our study zeroed in on major charitable organizations providing human services, arts and culture groups, health organizations and environmental groups.

We excluded nonprofits outside this focus, such as political advocates, religious organizations, trade groups, professional associations, colleges and health systems.

We then compared lobby expenditures in 2011 with expenditures in 2007, before the financial crisis. For the purposes of the following percentages, we further reduced our sample so that it included only the 81 organizations lobbying in both 2011 and 2007.

We then made one more adjustment, omitting lobby powerhouse AARP because its spending is so high that its year-to-year shifts can obscure underlying patterns. (See our February post on the organization’s spending.)

Of the remaining nonprofits in our sample:

  • Total spending by the groups dropped by 3.3% from 2007 to 2011.
  • Annual spending during period peaked in 2008. The financial crisis came to a head that fall, after many groups had spent most of their lobbying budget.
  • Thirty-five(45%) increased their lobby spending.
  • Thirty-eight (48%) decreased their lobby spending.

The following table shows nonprofits in our survey that spent more than $100,000 last year, ranked by amount. The table includes AARP, along with organizations that did not report any lobbying in 2007.

Organization Lobby Q1 2012 Lobby 2011 Change, 2007 to 2011
AARP $1,950,000 $15,170,000 -22.4%
American Cancer Society $1,110,000 $5,180,000 -14.0%
Environmental Defense Fund $552,000 $1,819,000 53.5%
Pew Charitable Trusts $640,000 $1,600,000 373.9%
Human Rights Campaign $340,000 $1,560,000 -18.5%
Nature Conservancy $320,000 $1,550,000 27.0%
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights $268,293 $898,483 66.2%
Kidney Care Partners $200,000 $870,000 8.8%
American Diabetes Association $294,000 $804,000 38.6%
Feeding America $132,376 $775,848 -67.0%
U.S. Fund for UNICEF $171,000 $713,000 78.3%
Susan G. Komen for the Cure $140,000 $710,000 31.5%
American Heart Association $175,818 $701,589 -40.6%
Better World Fund $170,000 $660,000 17.9%
Defenders of Wildlife $83,913 $620,555 -28.0%
Local Initiatives Support Corporation $160,000 $610,000 -15.9%
Ounce of Prevention Fund $160,000 $590,000 2850.0%
National Public Radio $135,750 $576,929 621.2%
Ocean Conservancy $57,278 $569,407 255.9%
Arthritis Foundation $133,393 $533,572 -16.6%
Teach for America $110,466 $529,295 130.1%
Natural Resources Defense Council $100,200 $473,011 -21.2%
National Multiple Sclerosis Society $159,069 $459,532 14.9%
National Affordable Housing Management Association $120,300 $444,950 93.5%
Habitat for Humanity $110,000 $430,000 48.3%
Muscular Dystrophy Association $100,000 $420,000 NA
Save the Children $260,000 $417,401 -8.4%
Oxfam International $397,580 $415,735 -38.0%
Goodwill Industries International $122,000 $404,000 78.8%
Youth Villages $66,400 $388,765 NA
National Kidney Foundation $75,000 $360,000 80.0%
United States Olympic Committee $90,000 $360,000 28.6%
Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria $100,000 $350,000 NA
Rotary Foundation of Rotary International $84,206 $325,702 48.0%
Paralyzed Veterans of America $92,927 $322,038 -14.5%
Workers Compensation Fund $80,000 $320,000 NA
World Wildlife Fund $50,000 $320,000 23.1%
Wilderness Society $10,000 $318,000 -1.9%
Canada Council $100,000 $300,000 -60.5%
YMCA $100,000 $300,000 -60.5%
Innocence Project $75,496 $289,921 NA
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation $130,000 $270,586 241.5%
Boys & Girls Clubs of America $70,000 $270,000 -53.4%
National Wildlife Federation $190,000 $260,000 -23.5%
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International $60,000 $250,000 -68.8%
Epilepsy Foundation of America $60,000 $240,000 0.0%
New Profit Inc. $37,500 $240,000 NA
Newman’s Own Foundation $64,258 $226,378 NA
Ducks Unlimited $65,000 $225,000 60.7%
March of Dimes Foundation $60,000 $225,000 -51.1%
Catholic Charities $53,700 $214,900 NA
Trust for Public Land $41,188 $214,108 7.1%
American Museum of Natural History $40,000 $200,000 -16.7%
Conservation Fund $62,900 $195,135 50.1%
United Way of America $63,000 $191,000 -70.2%
Boy Scouts of America $45,000 $190,000 5.6%
Common Cause $50,000 $190,000 -33.3%
AIDS Healthcare Foundation $50,000 $180,000 -18.2%
Humane Society of the United States $40,000 $180,000 0.0%
National Hemophilia Foundation $50,000 $180,000 12.5%
International Myeloma Foundation $49,000 $179,200 NA
Special Olympics $84,380 $177,966 1.0%
Boys Town $40,000 $175,000 337.5%
Children’s Aid Society $52,500 $175,000 NA
American National Red Cross $28,247 $173,049 -51.3%
United Negro College Fund $39,802 $162,021 -16.4%
Children’s Tumor Foundation $50,000 $160,000 14.3%
Immunodeficiency Foundation $40,000 $160,000 -20.0%
National Community Action Foundation $40,000 $160,000 -5.9%
Pride Industries $40,000 $160,000 NA
American Forest Foundation $42,717 $140,388 NA
National Trust for Historic Preservation $50,000 $140,000 -30.0%
National Urban League $20,000 $140,000 600.0%
Phoenix House $21,000 $124,992 25.0%
American Kidney Fund $30,000 $120,000 100.0%
Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society $40,000 $120,000 NA
Foundation for Environmental & Economic Progress $30,000 $120,000 -50.0%
National Geographic Society $30,000 $120,000 0.0%
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society $34,000 $114,000 -45.7%

Sources: First Street, Center for Responsive Politics, Guidestar, Muckety.

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  1. […] our recent survey of Washington lobbying by major nonprofits, Pew ranked third, behind AARP and the American Cancer […]

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