6 Advocacy Buzzwords

Advocacy vs Activism vs Lobbying

What are the differences between these 3 buzz words?​

Activism: Activist and activism carry some negative connotation due to stereotypes—however, for the most part, the action and intent is the same as that for “advocates” and “advocacy”. ​

The intention in both activism and advocacy is to draw attention to an issue, engage the public and lawmakers, educate, empower, and affect change. ​

Lobbying is a specific form of advocacy that targets elected officials and legislators. The intended goal of lobbying is usually to influence these individuals to use their power to vote in favor/against or allocate money to, a particular cause.

Ally vs Advocate vs Stakeholder

What are the differences between these 3 buzz words?​

An ally is someone who aligns with or supports a cause, community, or individual. It is important to note, that an ally is generally someone who does not identify or derive from the community which they support. ​

For example, a cisgender hetereosexual individual who supports LGBTQ+ rights would be considered an ally​. “Supports” in this example, refers to the simple belief in the civil and human rights of the LGBTQ+ population. ​The ally’s support, in this aforementioned example, does not extend to an action beyond their personal beliefs​

If the ally takes action on their beliefs, they have leveled up-so to speak- to an advocate.For the purposes of this manual, advocate and activist are considered synonyms, words meaning the same thing, and will therefore, be used interchangeable. An advocate/activist is someone who takes action by seeking to engage or educate others about a particular issue. This individual is actively pursuing change. The presumption made of all advocates, therefore, is that they are indeed allies too. ​

For example, former President Barack Obama- a presenting cisgender heterosexual man- was an ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community​

Source: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/09/fact-sheet-obama-administrations-record-and-lgbt-community

A stakeholder is someone who has a vested interest in a cause/policy at hand. A stakeholder may be someone in the target community–or even the adversary. A stakeholder may be an individual, community, or corporation/entity. Whomever they are, they are directly affected by the status quo and any change that may take effect. ​

An ally is usually not a stakeholder, although they care about the issue and community. A stakeholder may include a community member, who also may be an advocate/activist. ​

For example, ​in June 2009, President Obama issued a directive on same-sex domestic partner benefits, opening the door for the State Department to extend the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also expanded federal benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees and allowed same-sex domestic partners to apply for long-term care insurance.

(Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/09/fact-sheet-obama-administrations-record-and-lgbt-community)​

In this example, President Obama again is an ally and advocate in this scenario. However, he is not a stakeholder. (It could be argued that he is a stakeholder if this were legislation that had to be voted upon by Congress—then he would be a stakeholder due to his political interests.) Key stakeholders in this scenario are same-sex couples (domestic partners), the State Department, the Foreign Service and members, and the Office of Personnel Management.

Note: We do not cite general society/public as a stakeholder even though the policy represents a paradigm or cultural shift in society. ​Society at-large is generally not considered a stakeholder since it’s a “given” that society is always impacted by any change–or even just leaving things as they are (status quo).



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