Many not-for-profit organisations that engage in advocacy also provide specialised services.
These organisations engage in advocacy in order to lobby for change in policy or legislation to make lives better for the people and communities they serve who are disadvantaged or vulnerable.
At an individual level, such organisations might broker between disadvantaged citizens and government departments or agencies.
This type of not-for-profit delivers help and support for the people it provides services to, while championing the rights of those who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves.
At a broader, societal level, some organisations like The Benevolent Society focus on attempts to influence the decisions and policies of government in order to promote a collective interest and to affect changes in existing or future practices as well as protecting civil rights. The act of advocacy is “promoting or resisting social change”.*
In Australia, most of the not-for-profit organisations that advocate for social change work in the key fields of child and family services, housing and services for older people, community and economic development.
They try to establish “constructive working partnerships with government and facilitate access to policy-making processes”.**
The Benevolent Society is proud to be a not-for-profit organisation that delivers specialised services to specific groups of citizens and engages in advocacy in order to promote social change. We have worked to advocate for better lives for all Australians since our inception in 1813.
Throughout our history, philanthropists and benefactors have provided funding for many of The Benevolent Society programs.
Without that funding we could not have accomplished everything we have done – from the first old age pension to changing legislation regarding child labour.
It is essential that philanthropy and advocacy work together because it is often difficult for organisations to accept government funding, then call on that same government to stop providing certain types of services or to change policy legislation.
If funding comes from philanthropy, it gives not-for-profits the independence and autonomy to lobby government to alter the way they do things.
Some philanthropists have a particular point of view and thus support charities that align only with their perspectives.
But most philanthropists, either individual or through their trusts or foundations, fund not-for-profits to research or act in certain areas – for example, older Australians, young children, literacy, numeracy or other causes.
It is up to the organisation to find funding that helps support their programs.
If you’d like to donate to The Benevolent Society or find out more, please visit the website
* “Advocacy activities of Non-profit Human Service Organisations: A critical review”, Almog-Bar, M & Schmid, H. 2014. Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly Vol 43 (1), pp. 11-35, p. 14
** “Advocacy activities of Non-profit Human Service Organisations: A critical review”, Almog-Bar, M & Schmid, H. 2014. Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly Vol 43 (1), pp. 11-35, p. 21