Face to Face Meetings
Legislators want to hear from you. The first time you meet your legislator face to face, you may be nervous. Keep in mind, however, that legislators and their staff people repeatedly say the information that constituents and advocates provide is important to their decisions. Here are some brief bullet points to keep in mind when meeting with your elected officials:
- You are a constituent from their district, who VOTES!
- You have good, reliable information.
- You are a trusted source based on professional background, community status or personal knowledge.
- You are representative of a group they want support from.
- Your comments are representative of a broad based cross-section of politically active people.
- Be organized and be brief.
- Be persistent. Hold your legislator accountable!
- Be clear about what you want. State what you want to occur.
- Tell the story. Give the facts.
- If possible, give concrete examples of how their action will affect constituents.
- Be honest. Don’t exaggerate your case.
Here is a great resource for planning your meeting with your legislator.
Writing a Letter
Non-profit advocacy organizations rely greatly on mail campaigns to persuade legislators to support the organizations' positions. But it is important to keep in mind that the competition is stiff. More than 200,000,000 pieces of mail are sent to Congress each year, and state legislatures are bombarded as well, so give careful thought to your letter.
At the Federal level: When writing, faxing or emailing, the purpose of your letter should be outlined in the opening paragraph. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, be sure to identify it (e.g., House bill ______ or H.R._____ OR Senate bill _____ or S._____). Be clear, concise and to the point. Always be courteous. Use specific examples to support your position. Keep letters to one page and only discuss one issue per letter.
To address correspondence, always use “The Hon. ” and “Dear Senator:” or “Dear Representative:”
Here is a great resource in preparing your correspondence to your elected official.