Museum Advocacy

Every year MassMu reps join forces with peers from across the country for American Alliance of Museums #MuseumsAdvocacy in Washington D.C.! Click here to learn about the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Advocacy Day.

Federal Funding

How the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) impacts Ohio museums and your Massillon Museum:

What is Advocacy?

(Left) Senator Scott Oeslager and MassMu Executive Director Alex Nicholis Coon pose for a photo at the 2016 annual Island Party.
(Right) MassMu staff April Olsen, Scot Phillips, and Mandy Pond attended a Chamber of Commerce lecture by Congressman Bob Gibbs in 2016.

Definitions of the terms grassroots, advocacy and lobbying abound. It can seem overwhelming at first, but rest assured wherever these terms appear they are generally referring to relatively the same concepts and activities.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, lobbying is the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea or policy, with active support.

It is believed that the term lobbying derived from the practice of decision-makers and advocates discussing issues and positions while moving through the halls and lobbies of Congress and other settings. Though the practice of lobbying in politics far pre-dates the American experiment, it is rumored the term was coined during the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant who was often approached by those seeking favors in the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC.

Grassroots: People or society at a local level rather than at the center of major political activity, also the groundwork or source of something.

Outside lobbying or indirect lobbying, also called grassroots lobbying, seeks to affect public policy change and positions by influencing public opinion.

Grassroots lobbying: Mobilizing the public or people in a community to lobby elected officials or other decision makers for a particular position or cause.

Advocacy is the process, through lobbying and grassroots mobilization, of bringing about change in the attitudes of politicians and the resulting public policies and laws.

Effective advocacy is making your case in terms that resonate with your audience.

August 26, 2016
Our staff enjoyed meeting with staff members Rita, Dallas and Ben from @repbobgibbs offices in Ashland and Washington DC yesterday! #invitecongress

Why Lobby?


  • It is your right, and, some would argue, your duty, as an American citizen.
  • It can bring about policy change that can make people’s lives better.
  • It is how you make your voice heard and get your piece of the pie.
  • You can help speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
  • It is evidence of our system at work—it helps fulfill checks and balances.

And Remember…

Politicians and their staffs are just people too. Lobbying is a credible and valuable mechanism for sharing key information with policy makers and getting them intimately involved in supporting the work you do. Your museum is a community center where students come to learn, where families come to share a common educational experience and where citizens and visitors come to better understand their community and the world around them. As a valuable constituent, it is your right to speak up for your museum!


Join in the conversation! Learn more:

MassMu Executive Director Alex Nicholis Coon and Ohio Museums Association Executive Director Johnna McEntee receive their 5-year stars for 5 years of advocating with AAM in 2017.
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