Between 2004 and 2008, Los Angeles County nonprofits engaged in advocacy and organizing generated nearly $7 billion in benefits for local residents, a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds.
Based on a study of fifteen nonprofits in the county, the report, Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles County (76 pages, PDF), found that every dollar foundations and other donors provided to community organizations engaged in advocacy and organizing generated $91 in benefits for the communities they serve. Over the five-year study period, those benefits included $2.6 billion in higher wages, $2.2 billion in healthcare savings, and more than $2 billion from the increased use of public transit, construction of new schools, and expanded affordable housing. The report also looked at non-monetized benefits provided by the groups, including the protection of voting rights, improved working conditions, and expanded service delivery to marginalized populations.
Based on the findings, the report recommends that foundations increase their support for advocacy and organizing, help educate donors about the benefits of advocacy funding, support effective collaboration among community organizations, collaborate with other grantmakers to leverage resources, and invest in the infrastructure and organizational capacity of grassroots organizations over sustained periods of time.
"While high-profile commentators decry 'community organizing,' this report clearly demonstrates that such activity delivers enormous benefits to communities," said NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman. "On every issue of concern to residents of Los Angeles County, from clean air to immigration, from equality to education, foundation support for community-based activist organizations yields positive results. Foundation support turns indifference into democracy, and the benefits of a thriving democracy are indeed substantial."