Lobbying is about legitimately advocating for a certain change in policies or practices, often in collaboration with those similar or like-minded.1


Lobbying includes all legitimate activities carried out to advocate for a certain change in policies or practices.1 In principle, lobbying conveys information and opinion to political representatives and public officials. It is not, therefore, a morally dubious or illegitimate activity per se but an important element of the democratic discussion and decision-making process. This also pertains to corporate lobbying.2 Lobbying can become distortive if illicit practices like bribing decision-makers are applied or if disproportionate levels of influence exist — by companies, associations, organizations, or individuals.3


It is mostly beyond the direct power of an organization to change or adapt certain policies, laws, or procedures. Through lobbying and advocacy work, the organization (in partnership) may indirectly be able to bring about changes in policies, laws, regulations, and practices, as well as pushing an issue on the political agenda. Lobbyists can help the legislative process work more effectively by providing lawmakers with reliable data and accurate assessments of a law’s effect.4


  • Are there any regulations on lobbying relevant to your organization?
  • Does your organization have clear organizational goals that can be pursued via lobbying?
  • Are there interest groups that can legitimately represent and pursue the goals of your organization?


Planning: Effective lobbying and advocacy work needs good planning. One way to organize your work is by using the advocacy planning cycle, which shows the most important steps in planning and implementing advocacy work:5

  1. Identifying the issues: What do we want to change?
  2. Analysis: What do we already know and what information can we use? Local data will be most persuasive to local media and politicians.
  3. Setting objectives: What are our specific advocacy objectives? Advocacy objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
  4. Identifying the targets: Who do we want to influence? Who are we addressing, local or national politicians?
  5. Identifying allies: With whom can we work?
  6. Selecting the tools and developing the messages: How can we best reach our targets? There are numerous communication tools that can be used for good advocacy work.
  7. Monitoring and evaluation: How can we measure the impact of our activities?

Channels for lobbying:

  • Interpersonal meetings are the most effective and participatory advocacy tools, but with limited human resources the potential number of people reached is limited and further expansion is costly
  • Lobbying (working closely with key individuals in political and governmental structures) to influence the policy process; this can be performed through associations or in partnerships with other organizations
  • Meetings, usually as part of a lobbying strategy
  • Negotiation to reach a common position
  • Communication tools such as press conferences and press releases to support the lobby campaign
  • Raising public awareness via media: reaching the public via newsletters, email and internet, flyers, radio, TV, petitions, or canvassing to influence leaders

Elements of successful lobbying are:6

  • Transparency and integrity: Lobbyists and their clients, as the active party, bear an obligation to ensure that they avoid exercising illicit influence and comply with professional standards in their relations with public officials, with other lobbyists and their clients, and with the public. To maintain trust in public decision-making, in-house and consultant lobbyists should also promote principles of good governance. In particular, they should engage with public officials with integrity and honesty, provide reliable and accurate information, and avoid conflict of interest in relation to either public officials or the clients they represent. For example, they should not represent conflicting or competing interests. Disclosure of lobbying activities should provide sufficient, pertinent information on key aspects of lobbying activities to enable public scrutiny. It should be carefully balanced with considerations of legitimate exemptions, in particular the need to preserve confidential information in the public interest or to protect market-sensitive information when necessary.7
  • Anticipation and early warning: Lobbyists should continuously monitor government and public information (both online and via personal contact with government officials) to stay informed about intended policies, predict their eventual direction, and develop lobby strategies in time.
  • Good position: The company’s position has to reflect organizational interests, and the public interest should be emphasized. Organizations need an edge and point of view to move public debate.
  • Concentrated intelligence: Organizations can offer ‘real world’ evidence and stories to government officials, marshal facts, develop argumentation, define issues, and shape public debate.
  • Problem/Solution: Any problem presented to government must be accompanied by a workable solution. Success depends on government becoming convinced that a solution is less risky than ignoring the problem.
  • Grassroots mobilization: A critical success factor is to have an engaged and active membership that periodically, and at critical times, makes its presence felt directly by decision-makers. The internet is increasingly being used to organize and manage effective grassroots campaigns.
  • Working the process: Government is nothing if not process-ridden. These processes can work both for and against your interests by deflecting, defusing, and delaying decisions. Since you never totally escape these processes, you learn to use them to achieve your objectives.
  • Coalitions: There is strength in numbers, and the more organizations rally behind an issue, the stronger the overall positions with government. Developing commons positions in coalitions is however a protracted process and you may find your issues submerged.
  • Advocacy/Personal contact: You reduce the size and impersonality of government by identifying and targeting a small group of appointed and elected officials whose views are decisive on any given issue.
  • Attention to detail: Tactical adjustments and refinements minimize friction in dealings with government. Opportunities are often buried in the details.
  • Consistent pressure: It is necessary to focus and continuously refocus decision-makers’ attention on a proposal in order to propel it through the government machinery.
  • Judgement: Finally, this is the elusive quality that allows lobbyists to mould most, or all, of these elements into a successful strategy. Good lobbying judgement is a function of aptitude, creative problem-solving, strong communications skills, and concrete experience gained over multiple lobbying campaigns.


WaterAid ,2007, The Advocacy Source Book, WaterAid, London, UK

WIN, 2010, Water Integrity Advocacy Guide : Increasing the capacity to advocate for a change in behaviours in the water sector, Water Integrity Network (WIN), Germany

Proudfoot, S., 2004, Elements of successful lobbying, Hillwatch,, accessed 19.11.2015


Fagan, C.,2009, What is ´Lobbying´ and its link to corruption?, Transparency International,, accessed 19.11.2015

UN-Water, 2009, Advocacy for Sanitation: A Brief Guide, UN-Water,, accessed 19.11.2015

OECD, 2013, Transparency and integrity in lobbying, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Conradin, K., Kropac, M., and Spuhler, D. (Eds.), 2010, The Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management Toolbox,, accessed June 2014

Nordmann, D., 2013, Regulation: Catalyst for Better Governance and Enhanced Integrity in Water Utilities?, Water Integrity Brief, Water Integrity Network (WIN), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Germany,, accessed January 2015

OECD, 2012, Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust. Promoting Integrity through Self-Regulation. Volume 2, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),, accessed 19.11.2015

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Campos, N.; Giovannoni, F., 2008, Lobbying, Corruption and other Banes, Discussion paper series, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA),, accessed 19.11.2015

Chari, R., Hogan, J., and Murphy, G., 2010, Regulating Lobbying: A Global Comparison, Manchester University Press.

Zinnbauer, D., 2009, The role of investors in strengthening corporate integrity and responsibility in Global Corruption Report: Corruption and the Private Sector, Transparency International.

UNIDO, 2001, Development of Clusters and Networks of SMEs, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO),, accessed 19.11.2015

Martini, M., 2012, Influence of interest groups on policy-making, Transparency International, U4 Expert Answer No. 335, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, accessed 19.11.2015

Ratajczak-Mrozek, M., 2013, Business Networks and Cooperation within the Supply Chain as a Determinant of Growth and Competitiveness, The European Financial Review,, accessed 19.11.2015


  1. WaterAid ,2007, The Advocacy Source Book, WaterAid, London, UK
  2. TI, 2009, The Anti-Corruption Plain Language Guide, Transparency International (TI)
  3. Fagan, C.,2009, What is ´Lobbying´ and its link to corruption?, Transparency International,, accessed 19.11.2015
  4. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 2008, Lobbying, West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2, The Gale Group, accessed 20.10.2015
  5. UN-Water, 2009, Advocacy for Sanitation: A Brief Guide, UN-Water,, accessed 19.11.2015
  6. Proudfoot, S., 2004, Elements of successful lobbying, Hillwatch,, accessed 19.11.2015
  7. OECD, 2013, Transparency and integrity in lobbying, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Last updated 12 April 2019

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