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Not For Profit Lobbying Essay

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Silenced for Doing Good
Why the Government should not prohibit Nonprofit Organizations from Lobbying when they have Received Federal Funds


This paper will delve into the topic that nonprofits that receive federal funding should be barred from all lobbying at any level of government. It will demonstrate the important role that advocacy and lobbying play in the nonprofit community, its history, its pitfalls and the role it plays in shaping a balanced and fair playing field for all organizations. The paper will explain through data and research that we are all recipients of federal funds in one way or another and although it is fathomable to limit the use of government funds to lobby it is biased and unconstitutional to disregard the very rights our founding fathers enriched us with. It will detail the role for profit organizations that received billions of dollars in government funds played in continued lobbying effort s to limit the restrictions attached to the funds.

According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary the term Advocate is “one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal.” (Merriam-Webster's, 2013). Advocacy in the non profit community is practically seen daily through the words and actions of those that support, are employed or are beneficiaries of the myriad of services performed. It is at the core of the founding attributes of any non profit organization and is the crux of its ability to generate revenue and carry on its mission and purpose. However, one must be diligent to be able to differentiate advocacy from activities which may expose the organization to unwanted risk. Allowed under certain federal restrictions, lobbying is an activity which must be carried out with the utmost caution and transparency at all levels of government. Additionally non profit organizations which are the recipients of federal grants and/or funds must employ a greater degree of detailed oversight to ensure that no amount of said monies are being used to influence the legislative process. Lobbying at its simplest is the support or opposition to a specific piece of introduced legislation. (Merriam-Webster's, 2013). As such, the art of lobbying has been a central point of criticism and skepticism throughout history as one truly never knows the rhyme or reason legislators vote for a certain bill and who may have been behind the scenes swaying their decision. Although the basis for democratically electing a legislator empowers its citizens, lobbying is the truest form of having your voice heard and ultimately it takes money and influence to scream the loudest which is something most nonprofits rarely possess.

It is noted from historical references that that the first person to actively engage a member of congress to advocate for a group he represented was William Hull in 1792. Mr. Hull, a veteran of our Revolutionary War, was hired by a consortium of veterans from the Commonwealth of Virginia to lobby Congress for additional compensation for their services during the war and as described by Grier, “press a claim for back pay they felt the nation still owed them for winning its liberty.” (Grier) These heroes of our independence were individuals who had received land and monetary gain for the service of our newly formed government and arguably used said governmental monies to secure the services of Mr. Hull to lobby on there behalf. Although not considered illegal at the time, this may have also been the initial occurrence of using federal funds to lobby for a group’s desired legislative outcomes. Although unsuccessful in his bid, Hull’s actions gained awareness and was seen by...

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