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Families of Alzheimer’s disease patients needed more resources for research to find a cure, while food banks needed additional donations to serve their communities. Dedicated volunteers and community organizers could have lost hope in the struggle to change public policy on such issues, but they didn’t. In both these cases, and many others, lobbyists and involved citizens played pivotal roles in turning the tide on Capitol Hill. As a result, increased funding was obtained for more Alzheimer’s disease research, and new laws allowed caterers and restaurants to donate excess food to feed hungry Americans, rather than throw it away. 1 There are many more similar success stories.

If lobbying the grand halls of Congress to improve the laws that govern your life seems an overwhelming challenge, there are three important things you should know:

  • 1 – Change can and does happen, even for “little people.”
  • 2 – Working together with others, you can be the one who makes a difference.
  • 3 – You can enlist the help of professional Washington lobbyists even if you are a small enterprise with a limited budget.

We Are Responsible

“We the people …” It’s a familiar phrase that bumps up against our comfort zone a bit. The ability to influence policymakers is our right as citizens, and our responsibility if we believe in a good cause. Lobbying was built into the framework of our society as the means by which we can affect changes in laws to protect our needs and interests.

Non-Profits Know the Grass Roots Needs

Policymakers don’t have the same expertise and connection to groups affected by their votes as do you and your constituents. Legislators and their staffs rely on sources like community groups to bring them first-hand knowledge. You can tell powerful, personal stories that illuminate the challenges and injustices people face every day.

If not for the intensive efforts of grass-roots lobbyists and others, we would not have seen the end of Jim Crow laws (enforcing racial segregation until 1965),2 or the arrival of women’s suffrage in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.3

American Capital BuildingRealities of Lobbying Today

Washington DC lobbyists conjure up a negative image for many average Americans who assume all lobbying involves Super Pacs4 paying millions in campaign contributions on behalf of mega-corporations. Until recently, non-profits and small businesses had to either go it alone or hope for the best. The need to build relationships and get a place on the schedule of the right influencers has been too great a hurdle for many to overcome.

Fortunately, selected DC lobbying firms, led by the innovative people at Lobbyit, have devised a better option for non-profits and small businesses. Their strategic approach allows small clients to hire professional lobbying services for reasonable monthly rates, with concrete deliverables spelled out in advance, contrary to traditional lobbying practices. They facilitate contacts with lawmakers and their staffs, targeting the key decision-makers for the legislation in question.

As an example, Lobbyit co-founder Paul Kanitra cites the fact that many younger representatives are likely to be turned off by big money lobbying tactics. They know that campaign contributions are important, but the ultimate power is in the voting booth. If they do not serve the interests of their public, they will be voted out of office. When small businesses and non-profits get their stories across, they help legislators keep tabs on the public welfare and better serve their constituents’ needs. Contact Lobbyit for more information on lobbying program options.

Sources:

  1. http://www.nln.org/docs/default-source/advocacy-public-policy/ten-reasons-to-lobby-for-your-cause-pdf.pdf?sfvrsn=0
  2. http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/what.htm
  3. http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/19th-amendment
  4. http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/superpacs.php
  5. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2011/08/30/midmorning2