Difference Between Lobbying and Advocacy

Lobbying vs Advocacy

Advocacy and lobbying are two very good ways for people, communities, and organizations to make their voices heard by those who matter. These also happen to be ways that are used by nonprofit organizations, to show to the authorities how communities are impacted in a positive or negative manner by their policies. Advocacy and lobbying are very similar in nature, so much so that often people make the mistake of using these words interchangeably. However, despite all the similarities and overlap, the fact remains that there are differences between lobbying and advocacy and it is these differences that will be highlighted in this article.


In a democratic set up, there are always pressure groups that are also known as advocacy groups. These groups continuously work to influence the opinion of public, as well as law makers. These groups come in different shapes and sizes ranging from a single man voice to a large organization. There are also differences in motives with some advocacy groups working to change the socio-political equation while others have small, petty motives to further their own interests.

There are many different ways in which pressure groups act or behave. They may simply question a particular law or policy of the government, take part in discussions to set an agenda rolling, challenge a political system saying it is inadequate, give a clarion call for change, and so on. All advocacy groups try to influence the opinion of the government of the day. Important point to note is that a pressure group is no longer active when its advocates are themselves in power. Some good examples of advocacy groups are associations of professionals, trade unions, caste affiliations, associations of consumers, and so on.


Lobbying is attempting to influence the opinion of the lawmakers. This is a brazen attempt to get changes in legislation made by creating pressure on the officers inside the government. Lobbying is mostly done by organizations and big corporations though lobbying may be done by a pressure group in the constituency of a legislator too.

Lobbying is specifically aimed at changing the opinions of legislators in favor of a particular law. It could be direct lobbying where the legislators are contacted directly, or it could be grassroots lobbying where the public opinions are brought to work upon the minds of legislators.

What is the difference between Lobbying and Advocacy?

• Advocacy is a broader term while lobbying is a type of advocacy.

• Lobbying is, in fact, advocacy that attempts to influence the opinions of the legislators or those who are in the government.

• Demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, rallies etc. are forms of advocacy in support of demands of diverse groups.

• We often hear about strong gun lobby, tobacco lobby, and alcohol lobby working all the time to have laws made in their favor.

• While the goals of advocacy may be similar to those of lobbying, the methods employed by the two groups are different.