Advocacy Vs Lobbying Understanding The Legal Perspective

When it comes to advocacy for non-profits, well it’s allowed. The term advocacy is often confused with lobbying. There is a commendable number of ways by which non-profit organizations may try to advocate programs & improving policies and that too without hampering any law or even jeopardizing the tax-exempted status that they hold.

Why Is Advocacy Significant?

Advocacy holds a great potential when it comes to influencing the public policies by means of providing a channel for users & organizations to cast an opinion. This can be the best pick for the purpose of garnering the press coverage, sway the opinion of the public, the same can provide an opportunity to the policymakers for responding to the constituents’ needs in a proficient manner.

Advocacy & Lobbying: The Chief Difference

When stakeholders try to make their voices heard on the issues that hamper their interest & life at local, state or even national level that is called Advocacy. The term can also be regarded as a way of helping policymakers to sort solutions to the problems that are persistent. Most non-profits try to engage as much as possible in Advocacy for the purpose of achieving their goals. On the other hand, lobbying is those activities that fall under supporting or opposing a desired piece of legislation, directly. There can be an array of cases where non-profit organizations have tried to engage in lobbying. What comes as an important fact is that, IRS has framed strict set of rules regarding the expenditure model of these organizations. Using federal funds for lobbying are strictly prohibited. Let’s cite some examples which might help you differentiate amidst Advocacy & Lobbying:

For Advocacy

► It can be informing a member of Congress regarding their constituency’s stand on a policy.
► It can also be asking the members of Congress to come to your organization and see how the funds provided through federal funding are utilized.

For Lobbying

► It can be directly asking the member of Congress to vote in favor or against & even amend the piece of an introduced legislation.
► When material or events are organized in support of politicization activities, this is also lobbying.


It can be said that Advocacy is a blend of identifying the precise spectators, having an influential message & including a local viewpoint to it. One can become an advocate by educating the policymakers with your organization’s needs. You can also inform them about the needs of the people in their constituency as well. One might act as a trusted voice on the policy issues and start developing relationships. Garnering supports on the important issues & then educating masses about the accomplishments can be the best pick to be an advocate.

If any of the activities commenced by you falls under the category of calling for an action, the whole process can be tagged as lobbying. Effective advocacy is what is required, you may go and see the policymakers, set your goal to get a commitment and make a lasting impression.