The Significance of 501(c) Status Among Environmental Nonprofits Engaged in Oil and Gas Policy Debates


  • Jennifer A. Kagan University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa



Nonprofit Advocacy, 501(c), Environmental Policy


This paper examines the advocacy activities of 30 environmental nonprofits engaged in oil and gas policy debates. Because 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted or prohibited from engaging in certain types of advocacy, the literature typically considers 501(c)(3) organizations service providers and 501(c)(4)s advocacy organizations. This study looks at whether this dichotomy holds among a group of organizations that actively advocates and examines the implications of 501(c) status. Data come from surveys of organizations active in hydraulic fracturing policy debates, along with organizations’ Form 990s and websites. Results obtained through statistical analyses and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) indicate that the environmental nonprofits actively advocate and report doing so relatively effectively. Furthermore, this research uncovers new patterns in advocacy tactics and the organizations that use them by analyzing advocacy participation and effectiveness separately and through QCA.

Author Biography

Jennifer A. Kagan, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Jennifer A. Kagan is Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research lies at the intersection of nonprofit management and environmental policy. Having practiced law for a number of years, her work incorporates legal issues into questions involving representation, nonprofit advocacy, and environmental policymaking. 






Research Articles