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Dark Money, Nonprofits and American Democracy|Part 1

Nonprofits and Democracy

In what ways might nonprofits diminish democracy?

Dark Money, Nonprofits and American Democracy

Nonprofits and American Democracy

A crucial element in a democratic society is the notion that every citizen has the right to take part in the political process. That is, a system of governance in which the ideals and preferences of all people are considered in the actions taken by government.

What is Nonprofit Advocacy?

Nonprofit advocacy describes the efforts of the sector to educate government officials, solicit broad support, and advance policy goals. Individuals cannot influence policy alone. Therefore, amassing support and resources increases the likelihood an issue makes the agenda for consideration by legislators.

How Might Nonprofit Advocacy Strengthen Democracy?

People cannot influence public policy alone. Historically, nonprofits have strengthened democracy by generating the networks, public support, financial capacity, and government commitment required to influence public policy and keep our democracy in tact. For example:

Both examples provide valuable insights about how nonprofits strengthen democracy. By generating the networks, public support, financial capacity, and government commitment required to influence public policy, citizens took part in political processes. Finally, in both cases, the ideals and preferences of many people were ultimately considered in the actions taken by government.

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How Might Nonprofit Advocacy Diminish Democracy?

There are some ways nonprofits and nonprofit advocacy diminish — or undermine — democracy.

Dark Money

Dark money and dark money groups are examples of how nonprofit advocacy might diminish democracy.  Provided by PBS, a recently released documentary titled Dark Money, “Examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.” The video trailer is a good primer on dark money and its impact on democracy.

This article is part one of a three-part series.  Part two explores more ways nonprofits might strengthen and diminish democracy. While this article provides an introductory overview, part two offers a deep-dive into the topic.

[WellCare Health Plans Paid For My Silence]

Nonprofit Advocacy Resources 

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About the Author| Olivia P. Walker is a public affairs and administration professional.  Olivia’s contract as governance consultant for the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering  expired September 30, 2018. Prior to this role, Olivia served as government affairs and public policy Analyst for WellCare Health Plans, a Fortune 500 health insurer. Olivia is a graduate of the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs. She graduated from the Master of public administration program in 2015 with a 3.92 GPA. Olivia was duly initiated into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration by the USF Chapter in November 2016. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Globalization Studies. The certificate is a specialized graduate-level credential reflecting knowledge of the most up-to-date research on globalization. Olivia is a member of the American Society for Public Administration.  
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Olivia taught nonprofits and public policy at the University of South Florida both as an adjunct faculty member and as a graduate teaching assistant.


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