In 2015, I left a very cushy government job at the Department of Agriculture. I had a lot of big ideas on how to fix things in government, but I did not feel like I was being effective and I kept getting held up by red tape.
So I left government employment and found a job with an organization called WASH Advocates, a group focused on getting more people around the world access to clean drinking water.
I knew from my government experience how influential advocates are at shaping policy and getting things done. I was excited to start doing advocacy activities like encouraging people to call Congress, organizing social media campaigns, writing advocacy letters to members of Congress, creating online petitions, and organizing marches or protests.
To my surprise, the group I joined did none of that.
Instead of "grassroots" advocacy, they focused on something called "grasstops" advocacy. This meant that instead of trying to communicating with the general public and asking them to contact their elected officials, we would go to Congress ourselves to make our case! It was a much more effective advocacy strategy.
Our efforts led to 400 million dollars in funding for water projects that provided clean drinking water to over 4 million people around the world.
Most of our success, however, was due to the fact that we hired a lobbying firm to help us with our advocacy efforts.
The lobbyists we hired helped us craft our argument, plan our outreach strategy, advocate for us in one-on-one meetings with Congress, and helped us understand the legislative processes better.
Before then, I never thought there was lobbying being done for causes that helped other people. I just assumed they all were bad actors who were experts at legalized bribery. What I experienced was the opposite. They helped us succeed without making a single political donation and I was never asked to carry a briefcase of cash into a congressional office.
During this time, I got the crazy idea that everyday folks should be able to have the same access to lobbyists as corporations and interest groups.
I believe if we are able to harness the power of crowdfunding, we can hire our own lobbyists to work for us. So we set off to figure out a way to enable people to hire lobbyists.
After much deliberation, we settled on the idea that a crowdfunding platform that lets everyday people hire lobbyists is the best way to ensure everyday people can access influential lobbying.
Thanks for reading my story, I hope you found it interesting and I hope you will support one of the many lobbying campaigns hosted on our platform.
We need your help to make sure that corporations and special interest groups are not the only ones with access to lobbyists.
Billy is the Co-founder and CEO of Lobbyists 4 Good.