Ever wondered how to lobby your elected officials? A video by the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign shows just how easy it is to do. Lobbying is simply communicating to your elected representatives what you’d like to see done, especially in terms of passing or opposing a particular bill.
Here at The Borgen Project, we write, call, and meet with our respective leaders on a regular basis to encourage their support for poverty-focused foreign aid. Here’s how to do it in five easy steps, no matter the cause:
1. Request a meeting.
Call your Congressional leaders office to schedule a meeting with them either in Washington, D.C. or back in your home state. You are represented by three members of Congress – two senators who cover the entire state and one representative who covers just their congressional district. If you don’t already know, find out who your elected officials are here. Be sure to keep their contact information handy.
2. Identify the “ask.”
Be familiar with the subject you’re going to talk about and identify what you’re going to ask your Congressperson to do. It can be general or specific; you could ask that they support increased funding for USAID or that they support or oppose a specific bill being debated.
3. Do your homework.
Be prepared to state a few facts about your issue, such as how significant the problem is and what your leader can do to help alleviate it. Remember, you don’t have a to be an expert. If you have a personal story involving your issue, share it! Put together a small packet of information to leave with them for future reference.
You won’t always be meeting with your actual Congressperson, sometimes it will be members of their staff. This is perfectly fine and all your information is passed on to your representative. State what the problem is, how significant it is, and what your representative can do to help. Share your personal story and show that you are passionate about the issue. Leave your packet of information there and remember to thank them for their time and consideration!
Send your Congress member an email or handwritten note thanking them again for meeting with you. Make sure to say that you will keep them up to speed on any new developments or any events taking place in the district in support of your cause. Finally, be clear that you will be sharing your experience and engaging other constituents in your advocacy.
Finally, remember to keep in regular contact with your elected representatives. Call, email, or write a letter encouraging their continued support of your cause. All calls, emails, and letters are read, tallied, and presented to the Congressperson in weekly reports. In fact, as few as 7-10 calls by constituents can convince elected officials to support or oppose a given issue.
There are a ton of way to get involved in our democracy, find out how you can get your opinion across to your local, state, or federal governments here.
– Jordan N. Hunt
Source: Shot@Life, The Borgen Project
Photo: Eastern Sea Star