The Right Way: Investigating Conservative Success in America?s Nonprofit Sector


Madeline Wander

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Conservative and progressive organizations throughout America strive to influence public opinion, set the political agenda, and change public policy. Academic studies widely agree on the overwhelming success of conservative organizations in promoting conservative ideas and policy agendas through the media and public officials. Their key vehicles are nonprofit organizations that promote ideas advocating limited government, individual responsibility, and ?traditional? American values, such as an anti-gay or anti-choice policy. This report investigates the ?new conservative labyrinth? of interlocking conservative nonprofit organizations driving the current right-wing political agenda. It analyzes the annual operations budgets of the top 20 policy research and educational organizations, the top 5 media watch groups, and the top 10 legal groups on each end of the political spectrum. From this data we can further explain the conservative success in setting the political agenda and turning right-wing ideology into contemporary America?s conventional wisdom. This report updates prior research, identifies the Left?s top nonprofits, and adds to the growing list of suggestions as to how the Left can increase and sustain influence in America?s political arena. The Left needs to increase its research capacity along with its marketing and communications aptitude in order to produce a message it can sell to the public as well as to its funders. Progressives need to unite during political campaigns and work toward mobilizing a solid, loyal constituency. As the Right has learned, it is the combination of all these efforts that will sway America?s right-of-center political climate.


Peter Dreier




Ford Research Endowment

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