Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions
Nonprofit Advocacy Tools Assessment
Advocacy vs. Lobbying: What’s the Difference? Understanding Regulations for Researchers & Nonprofits
Researchers are often interested in providing their expertise to assist lawmakers’ creation of evidence-based legislation but may be unfamiliar with the rules and regulations around advocacy and lobbying. This practice brief reviews the key differences between lobbying and advocacy and the rules that nonprofit or federally funded researchers need to consider when engaging in policy-related work.
Advocacy is the act of lending your voice to improve the lives of others.
Anyone can be an advocate, and, in fact, everyone advocates for something at some point in their life—asking for a raise at work or for a new job, seeking an opportunity for your child, sharing your story about prevention or mental health issues, or more. At the same time, advocacy can take many forms. It can involve writing letters and emails, making phone calls, meeting with lawmakers and other community leaders, hosting an event or rally, giving speeches, making donations or hosting fundraisers, and more.
When people like you educate lawmakers about prevention and the importance of supporting public health, you help create a better, safer, healthier world for families and communities throughout Ohio. You don’t have to do this work alone, however. As a statewide prevention agency, Prevention Action Alliance works to empower advocates with resources, information, and opportunities for advocacy.
- The Problem: Nonprofits are not advocating for the issues that concern their mission and are therefore missing out on an opportunity to have a bigger impact.
- The Context: Nonprofits steer clear of lobbying for many reasons having to do with knowledge, experience, and stigma. For example, many nonprofit leaders don’t know that lobbying is 100% legal for nonprofits.
- The Solution: The author presents four steps nonprofits can take now to get smarter about lobbying: accept the importance of lobbying, get the facts, meet with officials, and join a trade association.
CADCA’s Advocacy Toolkit
Advocacy is a key part of the public policy process. Numerous policy issues constantly compete for attention at the local, state and national levels. Legislators are generalists and rely on subject matter experts to guide their decision making. Therefore, it is critical to understand how to be an effective advocate for your cause and get your issue on legislators’ policy radar screens. Advocacy can take many forms, from meeting with a legislator in Washington, DC, to attending a town hall in your local community, to sending an email to a legislative staffer. Everyone who wants to participate in advocacy can do so regardless of experience level or time constraints. Learn to get your issue on the policy radar screen so that you can make a difference in your community.
This guide will teach you how to engage in advocacy for substance use prevention, but the principles covered can be applied to any advocacy effort at any level of government. The guide explains how to be a vocal, visible and valuable advocate and gives an overview of the difference between education and lobbying. It provides guidance for developing an effective advocacy strategy. It explains the federal legislative process and will help you prepare to meet with your legislators. This guide will help you maximize your meetings with legislators to ensure that you make an impact for your policy concerns. Even if you are unable to travel to Washington, DC or to your state capitol, the guide offers information on other types of advocacy activities.
Divining the most effective advocacy strategies for nonprofits seems at first glance to be a rather straightforward empirical question. What, precisely, are the necessary resources that organizations must have at their disposal? In terms of both efficiency and effectiveness, how can an organization best mobilize its members or clients? What kind of research and information is most useful to legisla- tors or administrators as they contemplate action on an issue of importance to the group?
About the Guide
Changing public health policy is one of the most effective ways to improve public health on a population-wide scale. Moving a public health issue onto the policy agenda and through the policy making process requires a well-planned strategic advocacy campaign. The components of an advocacy campaign are the same regardless of the advocacy goals. This guide is designed to help civil society organizations plan and conduct effective advocacy campaigns that will result in the adoption and implementation of strong effective public health policies.