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
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.
- 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.
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.
NPA Agenda for Change
- Individuals CAN make a difference.
- Groups working together can make a difference as well.
- New laws can be enacted, and old laws can be changed.
- Lobbying is a democratic tradition.
- Lobbying helps identify solutions to problems big and small.
- Lobbying is not difficult.
- Policymakers need your expertise.
- Lobbying helps people in your community.
- The views of local organizations are important.
- Lobbying advances your cause and builds public trust.
Independent Sector – www.independentsector.org
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest – www.clpi.org
Alliance for Justice – www.afj.org