Advocacy versus Lobbying AzTEA Retreat - June 2007 Helen Padgett, Ph.D.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Advocacy defined -- Advocacy. n . Derived from the Middle English word advocacye It now means the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending
Influencing outcomes that directly affect people’s lives
Advocacy and Lobbying Similarities and Differences People sometimes confuse the words “advocacy” and “lobbying.” The legal definition of lobbying involves attempting to influence legislation.
Advocacy covers a much broader range of activities that might or might not include lobbying.
Advocacy and Lobbying Similarities and Differences
One way of differentiating between the two terms is to understand that lobbying always involves advocacy but advocacy does not necessarily involve lobbying.
Lobbying can be an effective means through which a nonprofit can achieve its mission. Lobbying is a form of advocacy that focuses on changing laws that affect individuals’ lives and issues communities care about.
Lobbying is an appropriate way to educate and even influence government and has resulted in many important policies from clean air, civil rights, labor laws, foster care and recognition for arts and culture.
Nonprofit Lobbying Laws: Common Myths Even if lobbying is legal it will make an organization subject to audit by the IRS
There are no clear definitions of what is lobbying and what is not lobbying
Is lobbying legal?
YES! Lobbying by charitable nonprofits -- tax-exempt under section 501(c )(3) of the Internal Revenue Code -- is absolutely legal.
Can AzTEA lobby? Of course it can, it should, and it’s easy.
Anyone who can make a phone call, write a letter or write and send an email can lobby.
Why should AzTEA lobby?
First, because virtually every aspect of our lives, every institution, every activity is affected by government. And in America, government responds to the wishes of the people.
Why should AzTEA lobby? Second, because if we don’t someone else will. Every conceivable cause has its advocates.
Competition for a place in the legislative sun is ceaseless.
Why should AzTEA lobby? Lobbying today is a must.
Any organization that does not lobby, or an organization that does not lobby well, is almost certain to get left out.
What do we mean by lobbying? We mean nothing more than trying to persuade the members of the legislature to enact legislation favorable to our cause of education technology.
The legislation may set up a new program, change an existing one, appropriate funds, etc.
You count You and the rest of the people who go to the polls are really the ones who carry the weight. Your legislator needs you every bit as much as you need him or her.
You count and don’t you forget it.
Two things you can give your legislator AzTEA is an authority in the field of education technology.
Whenever your legislator does something that helps AzTEA, advances our cause, show him or her your appreciation - and let the world know it.
What do I need to know to follow the IRS rules for lobbying by 501(c)(3)s? Organizations have a choice between two sets of rules to follow… The Substantial Part Test and the Expenditure Test, also known as the 501(h) election
One set of rules is generally preferable for most charities – The Expenditure Test enacted in 1976
Advocacy Exercise #1: Turn to the person next to you.
Tell them something about your most important technology issue.
Effective Advocacy Requires building trust over time Involves meeting decision makers on their home turf Requires carefully devised influence activities
Builds in periodic assessment
Stay Informed Keep track of what officials say in the media Attend meetings and hearings Directly request a policymaker’s statement of position Learn the names and numbers of appropriate bills, their sponsors, and the rationale for support or opposition
Share this information with others
General tips Think locally before you act globally Get your issue on the record Contact the whole committee
Don’t forget legislative staff
Communication with the Media Public Information packets
Visits with editorial boards
“ If you want your audiences to listen, match your purpose to their needs.”
Advocacy Exercise #2: Turn to the person seated next to you and pretend that he/she is your legislator. Tell your legislator how your school system used the technology appropriation from the legislature last year. Tell them how you plan to use this year’s appropriation.
Tell them why you need to see this fund grow.
How to Talk to an Elected Official
Establish your agenda and goals Know what subject you are going to address. Decide what you would like to get out of the visit. Allow some time for small talk.
If it is a group visit, decide who will start the discussion and put your agenda on the table.
Listen well Draw out “silent types” with questions
Pull back “long-winded types” by looking for openings to bring her/him back to the point
Be prepared Provide personal experiences. Know when to admit “I don’t know.” Be open to counter-arguments, but don’t get stuck on them.
Don’t be argumentative or confrontational.
Don’t stay too long Include someone from the legislator’s district Discuss in advance how to handle the meeting Be direct but not threatening Leave informational material with the official Try to get closure on your issue.
When faced with an impasse, offer your thanks and leave.
You are there to build a relationship Acknowledge past support.
“ No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.”
Follow-up is important Be sure to send a thank-you note after the visit. If commitments were made in the meeting, repeat your understanding of them.
If staff members were present, write to them too. They can often be important allies.
Establish a relationship with staff Usually more accessible than the elected official
Can usually help to get your message through
Writing Elected Officials
Say what you want up front
Correspondence Don’ts Mass mail ins of the same letter
Jamming the phone and fax lines
“ The right people need the right information at the right time.”
Advocacy Exercise #3: State Representative for your district State Senator for your district Congressional Representative from your district
The Two Senators from Arizona
“ If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.”
Politics is the recurring drama of admiring what some people stand for, and being astonished at what others fall for.
RESOURCES Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest
Alabama Educational Technology Association