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Advocacy is hailed as a fundamental right of every individual and organization to exercise the freedom of speech and is protected by the U.S Constitution. Lobbying, conversely, is the step taken to support or oppose a specific legislation at the national, state or local level. In recent years, various minorities have faced prejudice of different quality because of their race, ethnicity, social class, and sexual orientation among others. Non-profit organizations are some of the advocates that aim to steer these concerns to higher prominence, where the courses of proper action are identified and implemented.
The exertions of the government, a very powerful advocate, struggle to help in determining the progress of the solutions provided, or declare a problem as obstinate. On the other hand, non-profit organizations have appeared to be the prime advocate for disadvantaged people and the causes that affect the minority groups. Most of those offering or involved in the assistance are unbiased and reveal all angles of social problems, allowing the practice of sound public policy. This lobbying and advocacy is, thereby, a fundamental pillar of a democratic society.
Despite the charitable causes of these advocacy groups, many non-profits have stopped engaging in their field of expertise for a variety of reasons. The lack of staff and resources in the face of demand has contributed significantly to small non-profits completely abandoning the practice of advocacy and lobbying. In addition, many of the directors apparently do not know the laws governing lobbying properly.
Charitable nonprofits face the restrictions on lobbying due to the tax deductibility of the gifts that are viewed as a type of public subsidy given to the organization. This perception has led to the provision of alternative options by the Lobby Law and IRS, including the Substantial Part Test and the 501 (h) Expenditure Test. The lobbying expenditure of different organizations is required to be reported, and the requirements must specifically meet those of the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The other laws that must be adhered to in the lobbying practice are the restriction of the elected officials to participate in charity events and the system on the interaction between a legislator and staff. Tailoring towards the development of a working advocacy and lobbying model, non-profits have to determine the reason for which their activity is practiced as well as consider its effect on the organization's mission. Moreover, these groups ought to clearly understand the legislative process, identify the source of the capital for lobbying, conduct research to help them understand the public policy issues, and develop an appropriate infrastructure to support the lobbying program.
Organizations that fall under the description of non-profit sectors in the U.S, as well as in other parts of the world, are termed as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). International non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have broken borders, and are currently focusing on numerous worldly problems. For example, CIVICUS, an INGO, created for the service to the civil society worldwide, has purposes and governance that are global as well. An international organization is governed by and also maintains focus on its countries of origin but offers programs to other countries of the world too. Conversely, a world organization has activities throughout the world and supposedly the governance structure that incorporates the decisions from individuals from multiple countries.
Advocacy INGOs promote the solutions to the issues on an international platform while operational organizations design and implement economic development projects. Such institutions have made significant steps towards addressing global problems over the years. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave an estimated $20 billion to support families and domestic projects. Despite the existence of such donors, many NGOs often pursue new sources of revenue. As the chances of international funding for small organizations are rather slim, different sources are, therefore, explored and attracted. Fund-raising, originally emerging from the United States, has markedly gained root in global communities.
Having such an organization within a country is regarded beneficial as NGO managers are required to incorporate national and regional differences in legal systems, political environments and culture. Management will entail the attention on interpersonal relationships with staff, volunteers, and donors among others. Cultural differences are also experienced even despite their frequent invisibility. For a manager who anticipates working in an international environment, the understanding of culture and its implications is a significant aspect in developing a comfortable working environment and promoting essential pro-social skills.
In addition, governing an NGO is referred to as a resourceful process as it is important to train and orient the members of international organizations for the achievement of the goals set. This form of training will help the individual members in understanding the core of the fiduciary responsibilities of governing boards under different country laws. The governance structure often affects the evolving nature of the organization partially limiting its flexibility and the strive for the positive development dynamics. Worth (2012) suggests that one of the ways to achieve international representation is to adopt a set of relevant by-laws that provide seats on the leading board representing each person's respective region. As inferred from the stated above, this provision regulates the number of members on the board, providing an international standpoint on the way.
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In another approach to governance, board members are elected according to the demand for various skills, advanced viewpoints, and useful experiences. However, this approach does not ensure that the views from all religions of participation will be reflected on the board. Another substitute approach involves sustaining national organizations affiliated with the headquarters but not receiving any support from them. The centralization and decentralization of operations enable managers to decide which problems are to be handled by the headquarters and which will be solved at the local level. To govern and manage an NGO in the international sphere effectively, the skills in the areas of flexibility, communication and tolerance for ambiguity are required.
A social entrepreneur is a person using business concepts and methods in pursuit of a social purpose. The social enterprise school consists of those who view social entrepreneurship as similar to the making of earned income ventures by non-profits. Those in the social innovation school perceive social entrepreneurs as playing a significant role in the society, similar to that of the business entrepreneur in the economy. The demographic characteristics of entrepreneurs have been identified to be found mostly among immigrants, first-born children, and childless individuals. Such people have suffered significant trauma earlier in their lives and undertake entrepreneurial endeavors easier during milestone ages, like turning 30 or 50. They are believed to exhibit innovativeness, low-risk aversion, and tolerance for ambiguity not inherent to other societal groups. In addition, they “adopt a mission to create and sustain social value, recognize and relentlessly pursue new opportunities, engage in continuous innovation, adaptation and learning”, act boldly without being limited to the resources at hand and always exhibit a heightened sense of accountability (Worth, 2012).
The stability of goods and services in the market over time may develop inefficiencies that are subsequently explored by creative innovators. External conditions and the internal characteristics of individuals play a fundamental role in the commencement of entrepreneurship. Free markets and democratic governments have initiated the emergence with the consecutive promotion of the growth of a favorable free enterprise. Concisely, the best model for a successful entrepreneurship involves four basic components: people, context, deal, and opportunity.
According to the research overviewed by the Worth (2012), high-impact non-profits such as the Environmental Defense Fund were identified. The standard practices discovered in the course of the investigation were to advocate and serve, encourage markets’ work, inspire evangelists, nurture non-profit networks, and master the art of adaptation and sharing leadership. Bill Drayton was a social entrepreneur who founded Ashoka: Innovators for the Public an organization providing social entrepreneurs with funding, professional assistance, contacts and engagement. He describes the cycle of the formation of an entrepreneur as a three-phase process: apprenticeship, launching and take-off, and then finally maturity, a phase of substantial impact.
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Worth (2012) further observes that the persistence of extreme poverty cannot be addressed by the prevalence of free markets alone, questioning the ability of NGOs in solving the problem. There are two types of social businesses with one group being focused on creating social benefit and another on profit maximization. Despite the emergence of critics who believe collective efforts to be more effective than those of a solo entrepreneur, social entrepreneurship is already set in motion, and will nonetheless continue developing.