What is advocacy?

“Advocacy” encompasses a broad range of activities that can influence public debate and policy decisions. Through advocacy, people and organizations seek to influence the laws, policies, and systems that affect entire communities.

Effective advocacy can include educating the public and policy makers about issues of concern, attempting to influence legislation, working to shape the development of governmental agency rules and regulations, litigating on public policy issues, educating voters and candidates about policy issues, and ensuring that underrepresented communities have a voice in the policy process.

There are many ways that nonprofits and foundations can engage in advocacy. The key is understanding the rules that govern your participation and becoming confident in your ability to advocate effectively.

Why advocate?

Effective advocacy enables nonprofits to shape the public debate on important social issues and ensure that underserved communities have a voice in the policies that impact their lives. Advocacy is the number one way nonprofits can advance the issues they care about and help bring about systemic, lasting change for the people they serve.

We believe every nonprofit can and should use advocacy to amplify their work. Armed with the right tools and information, you will realize how advocacy can advance your cause and communities.

To see examples of nonprofits and foundations using advocacy successfully, go to Advocacy in Action.

Related: For Nonprofits, Advocacy Is a Patriotic Duty