What Is League Action and Advocacy ?
Defining Action/Advocacy & Lobbying
We are nonpartisan—the League of Women Voters does not support/oppose candidates or political parties. However, the League takes “action” on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing “League position” that supports the issue or speaks to the cause. In the League, “ACTION” means advocating or lobbying for an issue on which the respective League (local, state, regional or national level) has a position. Action can mean both advocating and lobbying.
Positions result from a process of member agreement about a specific topic which is reached by group discussion after thorough research and study on the topic which is presented to the membership in an unbiased manner. The purpose of having a League position is to use that position to influence public policy. For more information about positions and how they are formed, click here.
Advocacy encompasses pleading for or against causes and issues, as well as supporting or recommending positions. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between the broad concept of advocacy and a specific advocacy technique called “lobbying.” While lobbying can be part of an advocacy strategy, advocacy does not necessarily include lobbying.
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. In the League, 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 AND a.) refer to, AND b.) express a view on specific legislation;
(2) be directed to the general public, AND a.) 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
Examples of advocacy techniques or activities:
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.
Advocacy activities are whatever a League does, at every level of government, to implement its positions. That can 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 governmental budget process. So, be informed and testify at budget hearings.
Advocacy and Action on Fairfax Area and Other League issues
LWVFA follows various issues in Fairfax County and Fairfax City, as well as other levels of government (using state, regional and national League positions). Often we advise government officials (give testimony) on what the League believes are good government practices regarding that issue.
Here are some of the issues we are following and links to more information on the issue. You can also access these topics with the drop-down menu at top:
ISSUES WE ARE FOLLOWING with Links to other League resources:
LINKS to Issues and Resources