Non-profit organizations have a major impact on government and society, both domestically and internationally. From think tanks to advocacy groups, non-profits are actively involved in informing and influencing social and economic policies. They conduct research, evaluations, and demonstration projects to provide policy makers with the data they need to make informed decisions. Non-profits also urge people to contact their representatives directly or sign petitions for or against certain positions.
In addition, they use demonstrations, sit-ins, parades, and boycotts to influence public policies. Non-profits collaborate closely with the government at all levels in the United States, as well as with international agencies such as the United Nations or the International Monetary Fund. However, they can also be in conflict with governments through their advocacy efforts. The fiscal capacity of states and cities varies greatly, making it difficult to predict how future changes in government decision-making and spending will affect charitable organizations.
The wide variety of non-profit organizations reflected in the NTEE (National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities) highlights their diversity and suggests a variety of activities they carry out. Some academics have recently started to encourage leaders of non-profit organizations to think more critically about the problems of “missionary drift” in their organizations. Scholars also rely on the history and religious roots of charity, altruism and social justice to explain the donations and volunteerism that characterize participation in non-profit organizations and rights-oriented social movements. Non-profits can take part in processes and policy changes at all different levels of government.
The interaction between government and non-profit civil society organizations is complex, but also dynamic, as it comes and goes with changes in policies, political administrations and social norms. Wealthy communities can use nonprofit organizations to meet their needs without providing tax revenues for public education and other human services for low-income residents. Mutual membership organizations such as unions, recreational clubs, credit unions, and political parties are also tax-exempt non-profit organizations that perform important functions. The increasing number of non-profits contribute significantly to national income through employment in hospitals, private universities, multipurpose organizations such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, and others. In conclusion, non-profit organizations play a crucial role in providing human services and have a long history of close relationships with government agencies. As welfare reform, refoulement, and other changes unfold, hopefully the already important role of non-profits will be further recognized.