WASHINGTON-The Concord Coalition is one of 12 nonprofit advocacy organizations that rated as "most influential" according to a study released today. Susan Rees, an independent researcher in Washington, wrote the study based on a survey of Congressional and administration officials. The study was funded by The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund.
"We are honored to have been recognized by Congressional and White House officials at a time when budget and entitlement issues are such high priority concerns," said Martha Phillips, executive director of the Concord Coalition. "This study confirms the wisdom of what Paul Tsongas and Warren Rudman had in mind when they began the Concord Coalition in 1992-that the best way to change policy in Washington is to use pressure from well-informed voters back home."
The study says that of the 12 organizations recognized, only the Concord Coalition and the Sierra Club have overall programs that put more weight on public education and grassroots organizing than Washington policy work.
"The Concord Coalition has conducted a traditional public education program aimed at getting voters to demand a balanced federal budget and fiscal discipline," Rees writes. "Through networking in these ways, at both the national and local levels, the Concord Coalition has recruited allies large and small in its second revolutionary war to secure its view of a sound economic future."
"The backbone of Concord's effort is our public education campaign and the talented Concord advocates around the country who implement it," said Harry Zeeve, Concord's national field director. "Our field staff work on a daily basis with the public, the media, and other organizations is changing the political wind direction."
To identify a set of highly effective organizations, Rees first asked majority and minority staff directors of Congressional committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over key issues to name the groups most influential in their issue areas. She used these responses as a basis for a second survey of all members of Congress and officials from the White House and executive branch agencies. Case studies of the groups most often named were used to describe the factors that make nonprofit organizations influential in national policy debates.
"Nonprofit advocacy is an important and understudied topic," said Alan J. Abramson, director of The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund. "Rees' findings indicate that nonprofit organizations can serve as a critical link in our democracy by channeling the interests of their members to leaders at the highest levels of the policy process."
Rees' case studies and analysis reveal that the Concord Coalition has achieved its high effectiveness level despite its youth and small budget compared to other organizations cited.
The Concord Coalition and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities were named the most influential groups on budget issues by those surveyed. Other groups were ranked in the following issues: environment (Sierra Club, National Federation of Independent Business), family policy and welfare (Christian Coalition, Children's Defense Fund), foreign aid funding (American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Center for Strategic and International Studies), health (American Medical Association, American Association of Retired Persons), and housing and community policy (U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities).