Does government funding suppress nonprofits' political activity?

Mark Chaves, Laura Stephens, Joseph Galaskiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


Autonomy from the state has been considered a core feature of American civil society, and understanding the consequences of perceived threats to that autonomy has been a central theme in social and political theory. We engage this theme by examining a specific question: What is the effect of government funding on nonprofit organizations' political activity? Extant theory and research identify some mechanisms by which government funding might reduce nonprofit political activity and other mechanisms by which government funding might enhance such activity. We investigate this relationship with two data sets: a national sample of religious congregations and a longitudinal sample of nonprofit organizations in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Results across these data sets are consistent and compelling: The relationship between government funding and nonprofit political activity is either positive or null; government funding does not suppress nonprofit political activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-316
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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