What is Advocacy?

Can Orchestras Advocate? Yes, You Can!

Nonprofit organizations have a responsibility and a right to advocate on behalf of their constituents. Citizen participation and citizen action is essential to democracy.

Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government.

A lobbyist is an “individual who is paid to communicate with federal public office holders in an attempt to influence government decisions.” (Lobbyist Registration Act)

The targets of lobbying are usually your elected officials, but can include the news media, your audience, and the public in general.

As a private citizen, you have the right to freely express yourself on government policy. However, for a non-profit (501 c 3) organization, such as an orchestra, there are some specific rules to follow, but compliance is very easy.

It is lobbying if you try to influence the development of law, to repeal an old law, to modify legislation, or to approve new legislation. It only applies if you communicate directly with an elected official.

It is not lobbying if you discuss the needs or interests of your organization in general ways or sending a season brochure to an elected official.

Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.

An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of a cause or proposal. The advocate may be an individual or an organization.

Advocacy is the broader of the two terms and can refer to general efforts to advance a point of view or make your case.

Advocacy takes place, for example, through traditional and social media, at conferences, and in communications with any individuals or groups. When you’re telling a donor, reporter, or civic leader what your orchestra does and why it matters, you’re engaging in advocacy.

Click here for more information on advocacy versus lobbying. 

Click here for advocacy alerts on current issues.

Questions? Contact us at advocacy@acso.org.