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How to Lobby for a Cause

Lobbying for a cause is an important part of the political process and a key way all citizens can impact government decisions. There are many ways to advocate for a cause. Here are seven important points to consider when regarding how to lobby for a cause important to you.

7 Ways to Lobby for a Cause

  1. Know background information. Having a holistic picture of an issue and understanding all sides will allow you to have more effective and productive conversations.
  2. Have a clear objective. No matter how broad your cause may be, have specific points to address and keep the focus on a clear goal, such as signing a bill. Refer to bills and pieces of legislation by their specific name and number, and remain up to date on events that could affect your objectives.
  3. Be persistent and personal. A crucial part of lobbying for a cause is building a relationship with members of Congress and their staff. Introduce yourself and tell a story that explains your personal connection to a cause. Bring photos or documents relevant to your story if you have them. These personal touches can make an issue significant for a politician. Similarly, persistence reiterates the importance you place on a cause and is vital for building relationships with your representatives.
  4. Listen. Try and have a conversation with others about your cause rather than doing all of the talking yourself. Pay attention to what questions are asked regarding the cause and your objectives as well as common themes in differing viewpoints. Listening will allow you to better formulate your argument in a way that addresses concerns and dispels misconceptions.
  5. Find allies. Being part of a group not only provides a strong support network that will help you learn how to effectively lobby for a cause, but also shows a Congress member the cause is important and personal to many constituents. Spreading awareness and advocating for a cause is more effective in a group. Beyond other supporters of a cause, also remember the important role staffers play in pushing a cause through. Do not underestimate the importance of your relationships with staffers, and know that they can advocate for you and your cause as well.
  6. Remember the power of positive reinforcement. Do not forget to say thank you and acknowledge tiny positive actions. Whether it is for signing a piece of legislation related to your cause or just taking the time to meet with you, using positive reinforcement in your interactions paves the way for building strong relationships. Collect business cards and contact information from staffers and be sure to follow-up interactions with thank you messages.
  7. Don’t get discouraged. Even if your Congressional offices do not support your cause, remain polite and persistent. There are a myriad of factors influencing political decisions, so do not be discouraged if your objective is not supported immediately or even after years of work. There is no recipe for how to lobby for a cause with 100 percent success. It is important to remain focused on the personal connection you have with this cause and continue to build relationships and find allies to support your work.

Learning how to lobby for a cause takes time and often requires one to re-evaluate their strategies in order to convey their message most effectively. Remaining persistent and listening to all sides of an issue are crucial aspects of lobbying for a cause, and over time can lead to successful results.

Nicole Toomey

Photo: Flickr