From LWV-US: http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/defining-advocacy-vs-lobbying

Defining “Advocacy” vs. “Lobbying”

It is common for Leagues to support their advocacy activities with only non-charitable contributions.  However, this is unnecessary.  Leagues may, and are encouraged, to use charitable contributions to support their non-lobbying advocacy activities.  Advocacy encompasses pleading for or against causes, as well as supporting or recommending positions.

LWVUS policy recommends against using charitable funds for any lobbying even though it is legal within strictly defined limits.  Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between the broad concept of advocacy and lobbying, which is a specific advocacy technique.  While lobbying can be part of an advocacy strategy, advocacy does not necessarily include lobbying.

Lobbying is defined as an attempt to influence specific legislation, including both legislation that has already been introduced in a legislative body and specific legislative proposals that the League may oppose or support.  There are two types of lobbying: direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying.

To constitute direct lobbying, a communication must either:
1)    be directed to a legislator, their staff or other governmental employee who may participate in the formulation of legislation,
a.    AND refer to
b.    AND express a view on specific legislation;

OR
2)    Be directed to the general public,
a.    AND refer to
b.    AND express a view on a specific referenda or other ballot measure.

To constitute grassroots lobbying a communication must be:
1)    Directed to the general public,
a.    AND refer to
b.    AND express a view on specific legislation,
c.    AND include a statement that directs readers to contact their legislators or include the contact information for a legislator or employee of a legislative body.

Most other activities promoting League positions that do not fall within the strict definitions of lobbying noted above are general advocacy and may be funded by charitable contributions.  One important caveat is Leagues are advised to keep clear lines between voters’ service activities and advocacy activities.  For example, Leagues that have taken a position on a ballot measure should not include that position in their Voters’ Guide.


From Therese Martin, League members comes a slightly different view which uses Action in place of the word Lobbying:

http://lwv-va.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/action-advocacy/members-2012-advocacyfaq.pdf

What is the difference between advocacy and action?

From a FAQ sheet on Advocacy and Lobbying created by member and former League Treasurer Therese Martin is this description: Many LWV members have been confused about advocacy because they can’t identify how it differs from “action” — a term that has been used by Leagues for at least 40 years. To explain the difference depends on how “action” has been defined. One of the easiest ways to explain the difference is to consider LWV activities within the following major categories: VOTER SERVICES or LEAGUE PROGRAM (issues).

Voter Services is anything that informs the voter about candidates (like voters guides), who or what is on the ballot (like referenda, ballot issues and candidates’ names), and voter registration and voting processes on election day. Program is the list of issues on which the League has a position, or is studying in order to arrive at a position, on which to take “action.” Action includes both advocacy and lobbying.

Thinking about it in these terms should eliminate the confusion about whether advocacy or action is the more general term (action is the general term). In other words, advocacy is a part of action, but not all action is advocacy–action can also include lobbying which shows that lobbying is distinct from advocacy. And it shows that Voters Service needs to be kept separate from program study and action.

Does it make a difference whether a LWV is using its operating funds or education funds to pay for an activity?

Actually, the question should be turned on its head. Many LWVs have “tied themselves in knots” over the types of funds that they can use for an activity. First, most local LWVs don’t have a significant amount of education funds (EF), either in their own EF or on deposit in the LWVEF that this should be a major concern. These EF funds have been donated to either the national or local LWV’s 501(c)(3) organization, which makes them tax deductible for the donor. Simply speaking, LWVs can use any type of funds for voters service activities. LWVs can use any type of funds for study or advocacy. LWVs cannot use funds donated to a 501(c)(3) education fund for lobbying. Many LWVs confused things over the years by assuming that all action or advocacy was lobbying and went to great lengths to keep their activities separated needlessly or did nothing.

So, What Is Lobbying?

Lobbying is defined as an attempt to influence specific legislation, including both legislation that has already been introduced in a legislative body and specific legislative proposals that the LWV may oppose or support. There are two types of lobbying: direct and grassroots.

To constitute direct lobbying, a communication must either (1) be directed to a legislator, their staff or other governmental employee who may participate in the formulation of legislation and a.) refer to, and b.) express a view on specific legislation;

OR (2) be directed to the general public and a.) and refer to, and b.) express a view on a specific referenda or other ballot measure.

To constitute grassroots lobbying, a communication must be: (1) directed to the general public and a.) refer to, b.) express a view on specific legislation, and c.) include a statement that directs readers to contact their legislators or include the contact information for a legislator or employee of a legislative body (aka “Action Alert”). Readers would make this contact as an individual — not a League member.

Then, What Is Advocacy?

Most other activities promoting LWV positions that do not fall within the strict definitions of lobbying noted above are general advocacy and may be funded by charitable contributions (EF). One caveat is that LWVs are advised to keep clear lines between voters’ service activities and advocacy activities. For example, LWVs that have taken a position on a ballot measure should not include that position in their Voters’ Guide.

Examples of advocacy techniques or activities? Advocacy activities are whatever a LWV does, at every level of government, to implement its positions. They include analyzing issues, providing information, making recommendations for reform, developing educational materials, providing forums for discussion and education, writing letters to the editors, doing public service announcements, providing guest commentary to newspapers, testifying to board, commissions and local governing bodies, joining coalitions, etc. Remember that many local situations are handled through the local budget process. Be informed and testify at budget hearings.

Members can find more information on Action and Advocacy at the LWVUS website in LEAGUE BACICS where you will find a special section League Advocacy.

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