Advocacy Groups: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Survey Study: Definition & Design

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What is an Advocacy Group?
  • 1:22 Types of Advocacy Groups
  • 3:37 Examples of Advocacy Groups
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Advocacy groups are important players in local, state, federal, and even international politics. In this lesson you'll learn what an advocacy group is and the role they play in politics. We'll also provide some examples.

What is an Advocacy Group?

Meet Harry. Harry is a US senator, and he's constantly under siege by many different advocacy groups. An advocacy group is an organization whose members share a common political, economic, or social interest and try to advance those interests through the political process. You should note that while advocacy groups can be very influential, their influence is informal because they do not hold government power. Instead, they try to influence people who either hold power (like Harry) or who may hold power (like a candidate for office) to support the policy positions the group wants to be supported.

So why does Harry put up with all these groups pestering him about whether he'll support their positions? Harry needs voters and financial support to obtain the office and keep it. If these groups can win Harry's support, they may contribute financially to Harry's campaign and urge members to vote for Harry on Election Day, and that's very important to a politician like Harry.

On a less cynical note, advocacy groups also provide information and education on complex issues that ideally will help elected officials make informed decisions. This is especially true if the advocacy groups on both sides of a complex or controversial issue are of equal strength or influence.

Now, let's look at some examples by returning to Harry's campaign.

Types of Advocacy Groups

Advocacy groups are as diverse as the people and ideas they represent. Some focus on a broad range of issues based on underlying political, social, or economic beliefs or values. For example, Harry may be contacted by groups that support a conservative political ideology or progressive ideology to determine whether his personal beliefs align with the group's views.

While some advocacy groups are very broad in focus, some are narrower and focus on the interests of a specific group of people. For example, some groups may advocate for a specific industry, such as the aerospace industry, the automobile industry, or the pharmaceutical industry. Some may advocate for a particular minority group, such as African Americans, women, or the LGBT community. Some groups, such as labor unions, advocate on the behalf of workers. Some groups may try to lend support for interests abroad, such as those for the backing of Israel.

Some advocacy groups may be even narrower in focus and concentrate on a few issues or a single issue. For example, Harry may hear from groups that advocate for cancer research or women's health. One advocacy group may support abortion rights and another group may oppose them. Likewise, groups that focus exclusively on gun rights and groups that focus on limiting or eliminating gun rights may approach Harry. Some groups focus on tax policy, and some groups focus on human rights. If you can think of a hot button political issue, there's probably an advocacy group out there that focuses on it.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account