Interest groups engage in a variety of tactics to try to influence public policy. Among the most important of these are:
- Lobbying. Interest groups pay people to interact directly with politicians. These lobbyists try to persuade lawmakers to support policies the interest groups support.
- Campaign contributions. Interest groups give money to politicians to help fund their campaigns. They hope to gain access to political officials and to help sympathetic politicians get elected.
- Mobilizing members’ opinion. Interest groups often try to make their members aware of policy issues that are important to the groups. They encourage members to contact politicians and put pressure on them.
- Litigation. Interest groups sometimes sue the government to try to force it to take actions that the groups approve of.
There are many different strategies interest groups can use to influence public policy. They include:
- Petitions. Many groups create petitions they can deliver to officials to ask for changes in legislation or enforcement. Elected officials, in particular, can be sensitive to this sort of pressure as people who sign petitions and are politically active are more likely to vote.
- Demonstrations, marches, and pickets: All of these can raise awareness of a particular issue.
- Social and New Media: Social media campaigns are a good way to spread awareness of issues and influence legislation, as are websites and blogs.
- Conventional Media Campaigns: Writing opinion pieces and op eds and sending out press releases can influence legislators and public opinion.
- Lobbying: This can directly influence legislators. Most large interest group have active lobbyists.
- Ballot Initiatives: In twenty-six states, citizen groups can sponsor ballot initiatives.
- Lawsuits: Often test cases or class action suits can clarify laws or enhance the level of enforcement.