What is Lobbying?
Lobbying is a vital part of the move towards social change. Unlike campaigning, which aims to reach large numbers of activists or the general public, lobbying is an activity to reach a small number of key decision makers on a specific issue.
Lobbying can be used to achieve a number of legislative aims, including:
- Introduction of legislation
- Improvement of legislation
- Enforcement of existing legislation
- Any combination of the above
It can also be used to influence consumers and animal use industries.
Influencing decision makers means engaging with your target, e.g. the mayor, a legislator or a company chief - in a way that will bring about policy change. Your lobbying strategy should be backed by thorough research – you can only influence successfully if you understand the people involved, and their motivations. You need to be clear about: what you are asking for; who you are targeting; and how you will reach them.
It weakens your case if you target policymakers with more than one 'ask' at any time.
Effective communication is the essence of successful lobbying. Lobbying needs to be carried out by people who know their subject. To lobby well you need to be an expert in your field, or at least be confident that you know your facts on your issue.
To carry out educational work without lobbying is akin to laying foundations without ever building the house (although others may well do this later). To carry out practical/service provision work without lobbying is akin to continuously patching up the symptoms of a disease without attempting a cure (although one is known/available).
Many animal welfare organizations are apprehensive about lobbying, as it appears to be a very complex and technical activity, and few activists have governmental or political backgrounds. In reality, if you do your research and get to know the people involved, it will no longer be a threat or a mystery.