Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can play this role as well, but they can also play roles as service providers, activists and educators.
Taken together, the advice and influence generated by think tanks and NGOs can have a considerable impact on U.S. foreign policy.
The most influential think tanks in foreign policy contain policymakers and scholars who have previously served in government positions including former State Department officials, ambassadors, military officers, and members of Congress. Think tank officials, whether they have served in government previously or not, are often likely candidates for service when new administrations come to power in Washington.
Among the largest and most influential groups are:
- Brookings Institution
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Heritage Foundation
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- RAND Corporation
- American Enterprise Institute
- Center for American Progress
Other NGOs represent significant memberships in the United States with interests in world affairs. These include:
- Amnesty International
- The United Nations Association of the United States
- The World Affairs Councils of America
- Citizens for Global Solutions
- The American Legion, and many more.
These groups keep their members up to date on issues vital to their missions. And they can mobilize those members to call or write government officials when needed.