Social Work and Lobbying

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One of the most important issues about which social workers should lobby their government relates to lobbying itself. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, social workers have ‘ethical responsibilities to the broader society’” (Libby, 2011, p. 7). In this light, they must be actively vocal, working as advocates to advance their causes such as assisting the homeless. Currently, there are lobbying regulations in the United States that could hamper social workers’ ability to seek and institute reform through political channels. Thus, in order to address myriad issues, social workers should begin by increasing their ability to lobby their government and seek change, such as in their efforts to reform housing ordinances.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 puts considerable restrictions on lobbying practices. There are tremendous benefits to this, especially as it relates to transparency and mitigating the undue role of private companies to influence government. However, the problem is that non-profit organizations must lobby just as for-profit companies do, and these entities are often treated as one and the same. In order to address this problem, exceptions should be added to The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 that frees non-profit organizations from the same restrictions as for-profit businesses.

Of course, there are problems that could arise if such changes are implemented. Namely, illegitimate non-profit organizations could arise as thinly veined efforts for businesses to skirt regulations. For example, a non-profit political action committee could lobby on behalf of a private company. However, this issue could be avoided if exceptions to The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 were specific to types of non-profit organizations—such as those centered on social work. In the end, social workers must lobby their government, but should be free to do so without the stigma and restrictions that for-profit businesses justifiably face.


Libby, P. (2011). The lobbying strategy handbook: 10 steps to advancing any cause effectively. Sage Publications.