About 200 supports turned out for the Gun Owners Action League rally at the Parkman Bandstand in the BostonCommon in opposition to HD 4420 bill which they say goes too far and violates the Second Amendment. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions.

You advocate for something when you communicate with your family, friends, co-workers, and with your elected and administrative government representatives. This might include your local town manager, mayor, selectmen, school committee, or board of health. It doesn’t always have to be formal or fancy, or in even in writing.

Awareness is often the lead-in to advocacy, and is when you raise awareness about a paticular issue, problem, or cause. Advocates aim to ensure that people understand the importance and implications of the issue.

Education is when an advocate provides information and facts to help people understand the complexities of the issue at hand. This may involve sharing research, data, and expert opinions.