Posts tagged ‘Interest Groups’

Attracting Allies to your Issue

It’s no secret that the key to gaining support for an issue in Washington is to gather as many allies as possible and then translate those allies to critical votes. Congress responds to pressure, so the more people and groups you have as allies, the greater chance you have to achieve your goals.

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When you begin with a new issue, you want to work with others who share your interest on that particular issue. Determining who is directly affected by the issue will give you an understanding of who your allies might be. Although it might seem obvious who your allies might be, this is not always the case –there can be potential allies that are less obvious.

Persuading Congress, by Joseph GibsonOnce you have identified potential allies, the next step is to get in touch with them and work towards enlisting their assistance in your cause. In many instances these potential allies may not be aware of your existence or of your issue. Lobbyists, whose job is to study every move made by Congress, can not stay on top of everything. Do not make the mistake of assuming that potential allies know about you and your issue–it is up to you to get the word out.

You also want to learn whether your prospective allies are willing to contribute resources to supporting you. It is common for people to say they have an interest in an issue but in the end they do not believe it is important enough for them to spend money or time on it. This can be a problem with organizations and companies when they feel an issue is not especially urgent or if they feel that nothing will be done about it in the near future. You can avoid this type of problem by approaching someone directly affected by the issue in the company or organization your want involved.

After you have compiled a list of people who are willing to work on the issue, get them together and develop a plan. Make sure everyone contributes something by assigning tasks and placing someone in charge of assuring those tasks are carried out.

To learn more about persuading Congress, consider our course Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, and Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Ch. 29 Allies

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For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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Interest Groups, Lobbyists and Congress

Washington, DC is home to thousands of interest groups and lobbyists, all with a single goal: attempting to influence public policy. Although many do not like the idea of interest groups and lobbyists influencing Congress, it is likely that the number of interest groups and lobbyists will continue to grow. Mancur Olson made this point in “The Logic of Collective Action,” first published in 1965.

Delivering the petition to Rep. Biggert
Creative Commons License photo credit: americans4financialreform

The most important aspect of interest groups and lobbyists is that their activity is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There is a wide variety of lobbyists and interest groups that work in Washington on a daily basis to represent the interests of a thousands of organizations and businesses. Most large businesses and labor unions employ lobbyists in-house, and thousands of lobbyists work in and with trade associations. There are hundreds of independent lobbying and law firms that provide advocacy services.

Lobbyists and interest groups can have a definite affect and influence on Congress. Because it is practically impossible for any single member of Congress to understand every aspect of a particular issue, members rely on lobbyists to provide background information and explain the way in organizations and businesses operate before they form an opinion on a particular issue.

In many cases a business or organization may actually be part of a member’s constituency, which means that when the member hears from an interest group or lobbyist they are actually hearing about the interests that affect the people they represent.

If you belong to almost any kind of national organization, you belong to a “special interest group.” And if your interest group is not represented in Washington, other organizations, including allies and Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibsonopponents, will have representatives who are active and busy in Washington trying to ensure the greatest advantage possible. Small groups are often represented through a trade association, while larger groups may employ an independent firm to represent them.

To learn more about lobbying and special interest groups as well as the influence they can have on Congress, consider our 1-day course, Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, or our 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson, Ch. 12, Interest Groups and Lobbyists.

For more information about working with Congress, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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