Exercise 10.1 Nonprofit Lobbying
Section A: Getting Started
Read the following excerpt from an interview transcript. Code the data using
your list of preset codes identified in question one of this exercise. You may
code the data by using the comment feature in Word. If additional codes
emerge, note them on your list of codes and provide a definition for each
INTERVIEWER: I am going to record our conversation so that I can actually pay attention to what you’re saying and then can
actually listen rather than scribble notes. Is that okay with you?
RESPONDENT: Okay. I give my permission to be audio-taped.
INTERVIWER: Thank you. And if you could just state your full name and your title for the recording, and then we can go ahead and get
RESPONDENT: Okay. I‘m Stephanie Martine. I’m executive director of Family Service Nonprofit in South Raleigh, North Carolina.
INTERVIEWER: Okay, thank you. What we’d like to do today is to just have a brief conversation with you about the status of nonprofit
lobbying and advocacy. We wanted to start off the conversation by asking, when I say “nonprofit lobbying and advocacy,” what
comes to mind for you?
RESPONDENT: I guess it’s making sure that the laws are supportive of nonprofit agencies in the United States.
INTERVIEWER: And is there a difference between lobbying and advocacy
as you see it?
RESPONDENT: [Pause] Lobbying deals more with the laws. Advocacy would be more dealing with rights.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. And does your organization, as you think about what you do, do you feel like you engage in lobbying and advocacy?
INTERVIEWER: Okay. And what keeps you from doing that?
RESPONDENT: We’re a very small agency. We have all part-time staff.
INTERVIEWER: Okay, what’s the size of your organization?
RESPONDENT: We have four part-time staff.
INTERVIEWER: And your position is also part-time?
INTERVIEWER: And so it’s really a time issue for you?
RESPONDENT: Yeah, any extra time I have I’m writing grant proposals to keep going. [Laughter]. I feel like I just run to keep my head
above water. And I think our board has a fear of being
misquoted, misrepresented, and so there’s an attitude of “stay under the wire” there. [Laughing].
INTERVIEWER: So fear is a major issue?
RESPONDENT: And then there’s also a fear that if we publicize what we do
too much we don’t want to create waiting lists. We don’t want to be in a position where we have more demand for our services
than we have services available.
INTERVIWER: What would make it easier for you?
RESPONDENT: Hmmm…to make things as quick and easy as possible for people to respond to, adding your name to a petition is easier
than sitting down and writing your own letter and sending it.
Even when somebody sends you a prewritten letter sometimes that’s even hard. Whereas if I can hit “reply” and say “Yes, me,
too.” You know?
INTERVIEWER: Tell me more about that.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know. I mean, sometimes I walk away feeling guilty because I wanted to, and I felt that way, too. But I just didn’t
have one more second to attend to it. I would think it’s time.
INTERVIWER: Any other reasons?
RESPONDENT: Time, and, of course, money. Not having the money to hire a lobbyist or garner all the resources that it would take. But also
fear, just kind of being afraid of the whole idea. I think that that has merit. And I do think there’s some misinformation,
miseducation of what you can or can’t do in regards to lobbying or speaking out for things. People just don’t understand, or
they’ve never been given specifically, “Well, here’s how you can do it.” And so maybe that’s the fear. I mean, I guess I have the
fundamental belief that our politicians want to hear from us. They want to know what’s going on, and they’re relying on the
public to keep them informed.
INTERVIEWER: In a perfect world, beyond time and money, what would help you to lobby?
RESPONDENT: Knowing the rules. I just am not sure what we can do and
what we can’t. It gets so frustrating. You go to workshops and
get conflicting information, so that’s just a waste of time, too.
INTERVIEWER: Anything else?
RESPONDENT: To be honest, sometimes I’m a little intimidated by going to the legislature, especially in Washington, D.C. –all those
people in their high-powered positions. Their slick suits and shiny shoes. I’m just a part-time director. We can’t grease their
palms like those lobbyist do. [Deep sigh] We’re not in the same league.
Exercise adapted from:
O’Sullivan, E., Rassel, G. R., & Taliaferro, J. D. (2011). Practical research
methods for nonprofit and public administrators. New York, NY: