Tips for Being An Effective Grassroots Advocate
(Note: While this document is written for interaction with federal legislators, the guidance isapplicable
for the most part -- to all elected officials)1.
REACH OUT TO YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL
. Contact him/her and schedule amutually convenient time to stop by the local office when Congress is not in session andhe/she is back at home in the district to introduce yourself. Introductions can also bemade at events to which he/she appears, including Town Hall meetings.2.
. Attend the introductory meeting either by yourself orwith other chapter members. Keep the group SMALL. If you will be attending the
appointment as a group, get together beforehand to “practice.” For exa
mple, one personcould talk a little about the organization, another about a particular issue that you want to
call to the legislator’s attention, and another to “close” the meeting.
Either way, stayorganized and focused, to make the best use of your time. You will, in all likelihood,have between 15 minutes to a half hour
t talk about every issue in the first meeting.Remember, this is an introductory meeting and the goal is that you will have moreconversations in the future!3.
. Keep it light. Dropping off too manymaterials is overwhelming to the Member of Congress and/or staff and the likelihood of all of it ending up in the trash is high. There is only so much written material that acongressional office can hold onto or read each day. Remember, they get informationfrom MANY constituents and organizations, not just ours. For example, bring a onepager on the issue of concern. That
is all that’
s necessary as a good start. You canalways provide them more down the road.4.
Get to know them. Remember, congressional staff are the ones who have beentasked to take in all the information provided and digest it for the Member of Congress.
It’s their job to get the detail for their bosses, who simply don’t have the time to research
every issue about which they must be aware. Therefore, it is critical that you not only getto know the staff of your legislator in the district office, but in the DC office as well!Suggestion: Call the DC office and get the name of the staffer
(“Legislative Assistants”or “LA’s”) who will handle th
e specific issues in which you are interested. For example:National Security; Judiciary; Immigration; Energy; Defense. In all likelihood, more than
one staffer will be involved. Get the correct spelling of the staffer’s name. If he/she is a
House staffer, then the e-mail address will be as follows: [
@mail.house.gov.If he/she is a Senate staffer, the e-mail address (typically) will be asfollows: [
DEVELOPING A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH CONGRESSOINALSTAFF
Either call the staffer (leave a detailed message if you get voice mail, which youfrequently will), or send him/her an e-mail introducing yourself and requesting aconvenient time to speak on the phone. Always note that you are a CONSTITUENT.