Social Advocacy Organizations

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 16,800 social advocacy organizations in the US promote social, environmental, and political causes, such as human rights, the environment and wildlife, and community issues. Organizations charge fees for services, solicit contributions, and sell memberships. Sources of revenue include programming services; government and private contributions, gifts, and grants; and investments. Social advocacy organizations work to create social change that will accomplish a specific goal that benefits a constituency.

Dependence on Government Funding

Some social advocacy organizations, especially groups with revenue of less than $1 million, depend on government grants and contracts to fund programming.

Competition for Funding

Social advocacy groups compete for attention and funding with other nonprofits and charitable causes, including religious organizations; civic, social, and professional organizations; business associations; and political groups.

Industry size & Structure

The average social advocacy organization operates out of a single location, employs about 15 workers, and generates between $2 million and $3 million annually.

    • The social advocacy industry consists of about 16,800 organizations that employ over 255,000 workers and generate over $48 billion annually.
    • The total industry is concentrated at the top and fragmented at the bottom; the top 50 organizations account for about 40% of industry revenue. Within the human rights segment, the top 50 organizations account for almost 70% of revenue.
    • Environmental, conservation, and wildlife organizations account for over 40% of firms and 37% of industry revenue. Human rights groups account for 18% of firms and almost 30% of industry revenue.
    • Large organizations include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Greenpeace, and Habitat for Humanity.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Social Advocacy Organizations Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                May 6, 2024 - Slow Revenue Growth Expected
                                • Social advocacy industry revenue is forecast to increase at a 2.82% compounded annual rate from 2022 to 2027, slower than the growth of the overall economy, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc. Social advocacy organizations generate revenue through fees and contracts for programming and services and contributions, gifts, and grants from public and private sources. Industry labor costs increased during 2023 as employment increased moderately while average wages for nonsupervisory employees increased slightly, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
                                • Social advocacy organizations are struggling with volunteer recruitment as fewer people are choosing full-time volunteer work after college, according to America Magazine. The Peace Corps, for example, has experienced a significant decrease in the number of volunteers, dropping from 7,240 in 2020 to just 2,530 in 2023. Amate House, a yearlong postgraduate service program in Chicago, is facing similar difficulties. Jeanine Balanda, the director of Amate House said that, previously, there were about 11 volunteer fellows in each Amate cohort. There are six in 2024. “You may get a good amount of applications, but then people that will actually commit to a year of service and leadership development is much lower than your actual applicant pool,” she said. COVID-19 restrictions and caution caused a downturn in volunteer rates, but according to “The Giving Environment: Understanding Pre-Pandemic Trends in Charitable Giving” published by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the decrease cannot be blamed entirely on the pandemic. The number of volunteers, from post-graduates who do a year of service to weekly soup kitchen volunteers, has been decreasing steadily since the early 2010s, according to the report.
                                • The formal US volunteering rate (volunteer activities within an organizational context) dropped seven percentage points — from 30% in 2019 to 23% in 2021, according to AmeriCorps. It was the largest change since AmeriCorps and the US Census began collecting this data in 2002. Utah; Wyoming; Minnesota; Maine; and Washington, DC had the highest formal volunteering rates in 2021. The largest decrease between 2019 and 2021 in any state was Colorado at 16.1%. Hawaii. Wisconsin, and Ohio also saw double-digit decreases.
                                • Eighty-five percent of affluent households gave to charity in 2022 with the value of their average gifts rising 19% above pre-pandemic levels, according to the 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy. The study found that affluent households gave an average of $34,917 to charity in 2022, up from $29,269 in 2017, though less than the $43,195 they gave in 2020 when giving levels peaked in response to needs created by the pandemic and an increased awareness of racial and social justice issues.
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