Advocacy and Nonprofit (an Excerpt from “Breaking Down the Walls of Advocacy and Nonprofits”)

The following is an excerpt from our white paper “Breaking Down the Walls of Advocacy and Nonprofits.” Download it here to read the full text!

Advocacy encompasses a wide range of activities aimed at influencing public policy, promoting social justice, and addressing societal issues. It involves actions such as lobbying, public education campaigns, grassroots organizing, and litigation. Nonprofit organizations leverage advocacy to amplify their voices, mobilize supporters, and advocate for the communities they serve.

While both direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying are often used in conjunction with one another to maximize results, let’s break down the differences between the two:

Direct Lobbying

Efforts by individuals or groups to directly persuade policymakers, such as legislators or government officials, to support or oppose legislation, policy, or regulations. Methods often include face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, letters or other forms of direct communication with the policymaker(s).

Grassroots Lobbying

Achieved by mobilizing the general public or specific interest groups to take action and advocate around a particular policy or legislative outcome. Most often achieved through letter writing campaigns, petitions, rallies/protests, and social media.

In either case, the communications must refer to and reflect a view on the legislation for it to be considered lobbying.

Important: As a nonprofit, all lobbying activities exercised by your organization must be documented – regardless of whether they are classified as Direct or Grassroots. That includes events/meetings, research, direct mail, email campaigns, expenses, etc.