Lobbying or Advocacy? What’s the difference?

by / Tuesday, 16 December 2014 / Published in Uncategorized

Recently, there have been questions among Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) regarding the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lobbying rules.

There is a distinction between advocacy and lobbying. We are all advocates. When you share stories about entrepreneurs your WBC has counseled, that is advocacy. If you reach out to your elected officials to support the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) or whether you share a one-pager or lend your support to an initiative or proposed legislation that is advocacy.

When you are educating decision-makers about the work your WBC does, the impact you have, and your center’s needs, that is advocacy.

With respect to the SBA’s rules concerning lobbying, all WBC’s must disclose whether or not they are engaged in lobbying activities.  The SBA considers activity lobbying, if your center retains and pays someone who is actively engaging with the Congress or federal agencies.

The SBA does not bar WBC’s from lobbying activities, so long as these are not funded by federal funds.  During the WBC grant application process, all WBCs must complete SBA Form 1711,  “Certification Regarding Lobbying.”

SBA Form 1711 explicitly states that no federal funds may be used for lobbying activities. It further directs any WBC engaged in lobbying to complete OMB’s Standard Form LLL, “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities.”

We hope this clears up any questions you may have.  The bottom line is, we must all be effective advocates for our programs.  Your membership in the AWBC  ensures that when lobbying is necessary for our survival and growth, our government relations team can fulfill that critical role.