When it comes to influencing decisionmakers, all contact is good contact — and it gets easier with practice. The most impactful forms of lobbying, in roughly ascending order, are email, phone call, personalized letter and a face-to-face visit.
No matter which approach you take, it's important to take time to prepare your thoughts, familiarize yourself with key talking points from resources like this website, and follow up as many times as it takes.
Below are some tips to help make your lobbying successful, as well as links to help you find your local, state and federal representatives.
Remember, you are dedicated and well-informed: you're a natural advocate. By building on your on-the-ground experiences and concerns and following a few simple rules, you can achieve great results.
Whether you’re writing, calling or meeting in person, the first step is to identify yourself and your issue. Then state your point of view and explain why it's important to you. Be courteous and get to the point quickly. And follow these simple rules:
- Learn: Do background research on the issues you are tracking, and find out more about the decisionmaker you’re approaching and what motivates them.
- Organize: Work with other individuals and groups to identify shared priorities and press for change together.
- Execute: Present your concerns clearly and make a clear request of the decisionmaker, then follow up persistently. Keep records of all your communications. Focus on the specific outcome you want, and commit yourself to that end.
Make no mistake, influencing policy is hard work. But don't be intimidated or discouraged; the combination of authenticity, focus and persistence can go a very long way.
Reaching your policymakers
Two good one-stop shops for reaching Congress: Congress.org and the Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121 — ask to be transferred to your representative or senators’ offices.
Below are links to look up contact information for elected and agency officials from the local to state to federal level, using your zip code.
And, if you haven't already, do register to vote. Our system is imperfect, but voting is the ultimate way to hold leaders accountable. Then, keep an eye out for voter registration drives — helping to turn out the vote is a very good way to make more democracy happen.