Ways of Lobbying
Working with Policymakers ("Insider Advocacy")
Face to Face Meetings
Conferences, Seminars, Public Meetings etc.
Demonstrating the Problem or Possible Solutions
Written and Verbal Representations
There are various ways of lobbying: trying to influence policy-makers from the inside (working together with them on your issue), consultations, conferences, public meetings, lobbying in face-to-face meetings, and written or telephone communications. These are explained briefly below.
It is possible to exert considerable policy influence if you are able to work inside the system. You can develop this relationship through service delivery work on the issue, or through involvement in advisory forums (e.g. government committees or working groups). As your organization develops the expertise you will begin to be recognized and accepted as ‘experts’ and as a resource by policy-makers. Working ‘on the inside’ enables you to get to know policy-makers, and thus to influence them more effectively.
Example of Insider Advocacy:
Following advocacy, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments was able to place a representative on the European Union (EU) committee that carried out ethical review of animal experiments funded by the EU. The representative was able to table research and papers favoring alternatives to animal experiments, as well as influencing opinions on individual research projects.
However, such approaches are not without their drawbacks. These include:
- Tokenism: representation is given to provide a veneer of democracy/consultation, but your views and opinions are not taken on board. This often happens, and many advocates decide to withdraw from their insider position, rather than being used as an excuse for inaction and maintenance of the status quo.
- Conflict of interests: fear of losing your insider position could prevent you from being a powerful advocate for your cause.
- Co-option– there is a danger of becoming co-opted (peer pressure brings you to become ‘one of them’).
You need to choose the right representative for any dealings with policy-makers, but this is particularly true of insider lobbying: your representative should be a recognized expert, but also have a strong personality, and commitment to your issue and values.
In many countries there are now many NGOs or interest groups who have an opinion on policy issues. The government may launch a ‘consultation’ to gather opinions and views on a topic. Try to be present at these consultations or feed in your views by sending a short, well written document. An important advocacy skill you should develop is the ability to analyze and comment on strategies, policies and legislation. This is helped by relevant policy knowledge, and knowing your issue thoroughly from a practical perspective (so you understand the impact of the provisions for animals and animal welfare organizations on the ground).
Face-to-face meetings play an important role in lobbying.
These may take a long time to arrange – be persistent. Once you have a meeting with a decision-maker, prepare well. It is usually good to go with one or two colleagues, and each of you should have a role. For example: one may do introductions, another describe the research, another give personal testimony. It will probably be a short meeting. Try to make a timetable and stick to it. Have a small number of points you want to make and make sure you say them. Do not get diverted. And - most importantly – do not forget your ‘ask’!
Working in networks or coalitions you may get the chance to feed the views of a number of agencies to the ‘target’. It is advantageous if your organization is chosen to represent a coalition because you get to meet the decision makers face to face.
Making presentations on your issue can help to influence various policy audiences. This may be with photos, or a poster, but nowadays is more likely with a computer. Therefore in your group you need someone who can speak eloquently, and someone who can make a short presentation on the computer. (‘PowerPoint’ is the best tool.) This will depend on the meeting – be sure to find out beforehand what is expected, how formal it will be, how long, and who will be there.
You can lobby on your issue at any relevant conferences, seminars, public meetings, workshops or other relevant events. This has the big advantage that key policy thinkers on your issue will come and be present in the same place, focused on discussing the issues.
Three ways to go about this are:
- You can organize a conference yourself on your issue. The advantage is that you control the agenda, but this is usually a costly and time-consuming job. It is expensive to hire a venue for a day or two and difficult to ensure that key decision-makers will attend.
- You can attend conferences organized by others on a subject close to your interest. Sometimes you will have to ‘re-frame your issue’ in terms of the broader policy issues under discussion at some of these forums. Re-framing simply means presenting your issue in a way that makes it relevant to the interests of that particular audience.
- You can lobby policy makers to hold a conference on your issue (e.g. using new research and evidence). This can also give you the opportunity to influence the agenda.
If you can arrange it, attend global conferences where key practitioners and policy makers get together. The OIE’s conferences on animal welfare are examples of this. There are other conferences on issues which are relevant to animal welfare as well (such as sustainable development, biodiversity etc.).
- Make a calendar of key events coming up over the year or next two years. Big conferences take a long time to organize and you have to apply well in advance if you want a space.
- Look out for ‘calls for abstracts’. This is where the organizers ask for short written submissions.
They use these abstracts to decide if your work is interesting enough to invite you to attend. If your abstract is accepted then you will be able to present to one of the sessions. Make sure you submit your abstract exactly in the way requested. The length, the font size, the subject matter must be exactly as they request, otherwise your work will not be considered. Of course to be able to write a good abstract you will need to have good program work ‘on the ground’, i.e. - good experience to share, or good research. In your organization or group you will need to develop the habit of assessing your work, and learning from your experiences, so that you can share your new learning.
Apart from conferences there are other ways to share your issues with policy-makers. You can take them – or their advisers – to see the problem at first hand, meeting with and speaking to those personally involved with the animal welfare impact. Alternatively, you can record the evidence (video, photographs, reports, case studies etc.) in order to demonstrate the animal welfare impact of the problem.
You can also carry out or support pilot projects in order to demonstrate that your suggested solutions will work in practice.
Recording and spreading good practice is a positive and practical advocacy tool.
Some animal welfare organizations use the law to further their cause, for example:
- Testing dubious provisions
- Pressing breaches
- Enforcement complaints
This can be done through a variety of means, including: judicial reviews, using the ombudsman, advertising standards, the courts, enforcement authorities etc. To engage in any legal advocacy you need to have staff members (or experts) who definitely know what they are doing!
You can lobby using written representations, but if possible these should lead up to face-to-face meetings. You can present your views to decision makers using mediums such as:
- Reports or position papers
- Telephone calls
One scenario is that you prepare a report which you send the decision-maker to get their attention – then ask for a meeting to discuss the report. Try to get the target to agree to some of the recommendations. After the meeting you will want to put in writing what was agreed. And if necessary, follow up to ensure there is some movement towards implementation.
Module 6 on ‘Media and Communications’ covers the whole range of communications: including written, face-to-face, meetings and negotiations.