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A Postdoc's Guide to Advocacy: A Lobbying Primer
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A LOBBYING PRIMER

Created by Jennifer A. Hobin and Jennifer Zeitzer (FASEB)
Edited/adapted by Juliet Moncaster, Jill Slaboda, and Rashada Alexander for the NPA's use


Advocacy Overview | A Lobbying Primer | Understanding the Legislative Process

Making the Case for Science Research | Additional Resources

What is lobbying? | What is a lobbyist?Nonprofits and Lobbying |

Lobbying for the NPA's "Agenda for Change" | Top 10 Reasons to Lobby for Your Cause | Lobbying Resources

 

WHAT IS LOBBYING?

Lobbying is any attempt to influence legislation by:
  • Stating a position on specific legislation to legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation or;
  • Urging your members or the general public to contact their legislators with a position on specific legislation (a “call to action”).

Advocacy activities that are NOT lobbying

  • Providing technical assistance or advice to legislative body or committee in response to a written request;
  • Making available nonpartisan analysis, study or research;
  • Providing examinations and discussions of broad, social, economic and similar problems;
  • Communicating with a legislative body about matters affecting the existence of the organization, its powers and duties, tax-exempt status, or the deduction of contributions to the organization (the "self-defense" exception); and
  • Updating the members of your organization on the status of legislation without a call to action.
 

WHAT IS A LOBBYIST?

  • A person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of an individual special interest or a specific group.
  • A person who (under federal law):
    • spends 20% or more of their time on lobbying activities.
    • spends more than $11,500 on lobbying activities.
    • must register with appropriate federal and state entities.
    • reports on their activities 4x/year and political contributions 2x/year.

 

NONPROFITS AND LOBBYING

The NPA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Nonprofit organizations are allowed to lobby, however, there are rules/laws:
  • 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in a limited amount of lobbying.
  • 501(c)(4) organizations can engage in an unlimited amount of lobbying.
  • Nonprofits must decide if they will follow the “expenditure test” or the “insubstantial part” test.
  • Preparation and research time spend in anticipation of lobbying ALWAYS counts as reportable lobbying.
 

LOBBYING ON BEHALF OF THE NPA’s “Agenda for Change”

NPA Agenda for Change

 

TOP 10 REASONS TO LOBBY FOR YOUR CAUSE

  1. Individuals CAN make a difference.
  2. Groups working together can make a difference as well.
  3. New laws can be enacted, and old laws can be changed.
  4. Lobbying is a democratic tradition.
  5. Lobbying helps identify solutions to problems big and small.
  6. Lobbying is not difficult.
  7. Policymakers need your expertise.
  8. Lobbying helps people in your community.
  9. The views of local organizations are important.
  10. Lobbying advances your cause and builds public trust.

 

LOBBYING RESOURCES

Independent Sector – www.independentsector.org
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest – www.clpi.org
Alliance for Justice – www.afj.org


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