Nuts & Bolts

Nuts & Bolts

What is a nonprofit?

CLPI focuses primarily on 501(c)(3) charitable organizations that care for underserved families, communities and our common environment. According to 2008 statistics, there are over 1 million charities in the nation. There are other types of nonprofits such as 501(c)(4) organizations whose primary purpose is lobbying or 527 organizations that are election-oriented. Different rules apply to these and other types of nonprofit organizations.

Founded in 1998 as a project of the Independent Sector, the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) is now a national, nonprofit organization that helps charitable organizations increase their effectiveness and impact through advocacy. Civic participation is the essence of democracy, and nonprofit organizations are one of the most effective vehicles for engaging people in the democratic process. CLPI trains nonprofits and promotes increased advocacy within the nonprofit and philanthropy sector in order to create systemic change on the critical issues of our day.

What is advocacy?
In simplest terms, it is how to create systemic change. It comprises different strategies for addressing the root causes of social problems and improving people’s lives. The continuum of advocacy includes grassroots organizing, public policy, lobbying, and nonpartisan voter participation activities. These tools complement one another as part of an overall mission for service and reform.

How do you get started with advocacy? Are there things we can do to make it easier for us to lobby? How do we create a public policy plan? How do we go about implementing that plan? What do you during a visit to your legislator?

Using the resources on this page, you will discover the answers to your questions. You will learn the nuts & bolts of how to engage in advocacy. For the legal rules of what you can and can not do in terms of lobbying and nonpartisan voter activities, please see The Law section. You can do it!


"Getting the change you want in public policy will occur most readily when you join with other groups in coalition."

Elizabeth M. Heagy

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