Lobbying is the act of trying to manipulate legislative policy. Lobbyists work on behalf of themselves or special interest groups and attempt to persuade legislators to vote for or against certain policies. Although the lobbying profession has a notoriously bad reputation, lobbying offers some benefits to the public and legislative process.
Provide Research and Analysis
One practical benefit of lobbying is the research lobbyists conduct on behalf of legislators. Lobbyists distill the mass of information relating to public policy issues. Although legislators and elected representatives have staff and support, they have limited time and resources to research and analyze information. Lobbyists on both sides of an issue gather information, review and analyze data, and explain the advantages and disadvantages of pieces of legislation.
Not Funded by the Public
Lobbyists are privately financed, and they do not use public funds to gather the information legislators need. Lobbyists organize information and create graphs, charts, polls and reports that represent public opinion. By doing so, they save taxpayer money because legislators and public officials do not have to spend money to collect data and conduct public opinion research.
Represent Small and Big Interests
Lobbyists give constituents a voice. It is a misconception that lobbyists only advocate on behalf of big, powerful corporations. Many lobbyists serve minority interest groups. They act as a mouthpiece for individuals and small interest groups that otherwise might not be heard. Because lobbyists are professional persuaders, they have the knowledge, resources and ability to influence legislators and, therefore, legislation, in ways individuals and small groups may not be able to.
Engage Public Involvement
Lobbyists mobilize local interests. Although many lobbyists work to persuade legislators, some lobbyists also communicate with the public. Grassroots lobbyists travel, speak, blog and write to increase public awareness about certain issues and compel voters to act on those issues. By enlisting the community in the effort to influence public policy, lobbyists involve more people in the civic process.