THE LIMITS AND POTENTIAL OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS IN PARTICIPATORY PLANNING: A CASE STUDY OF THE NEW YORK HIV PLANNING COUNCIL
In addition to providing a wide range of essential services in local communities, service-providing nonprofit organizations play an important role in shaping de facto local social policy through their participation in community-based planning processes that guide or determine the distribution of federal funding for health and social services. This social policy role has become increasingly important in the United States as the federal government continues to privatize health and human services through providing grant funds to states and cities that are ultimately used to support local nonprofit health and social service organizations. The important role of service-providing nonprofits in shaping local social policy has been understudied, as most studies on nonprofits and policy-making focus on citizen advocacy organizations and their lobbying and protest activities, primarily at the national level. This study uses the case of the New York HIV Planning Council to address this gap in the literature, highlighting the benefits and pitfalls of an urban community planning process dominated by service providers from local nonprofit social service organizations whose own organizations are affected by the planning group's decisions. Factors that contributed to nonprofit providers' dominance as well as factors that limited their self-interested behavior are reviewed. The relationship between the HIV nonprofit service system and the AIDS social movement is explored in light of theory on new social movements to help explain why nonprofit providers were sometimes able to promote attentiveness to the general public good while also advocating for their more self-interested organizational needs.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Hunter College, City University of New York
Publication date: October 1, 2009