Advocacy is the active support of an idea or a cause. In order to operate effectively and advance its mission, a nonprofit should advocate on behalf of the people it serves, its organization, and the common interests of the nonprofit sector. A nonprofit’s level of involvement in advocacy, public policy, and civic engagement will vary based on the organization’s mission, capacity, and strategic direction.
When possible, nonprofits should facilitate broad community participation in advocacy, public policy, and civic engagement. Civic engagement means activities by individuals and groups to address issues of public interest. Civic engagement may include volunteering, working with community members to solve a problem, or working with government institutions.
Although definitions of lobbying vary among levels of government, they generally apply to directly advocating for or against the passage of specific legislation before a legislative body or ballot measures before the voters, or encouraging members of the public to engage in such advocacy. These laws and rules also define limits on lobbying expenditures and activities, disclosure and reporting requirements, and exceptions that apply to nonprofits or their staff when they lobby.