How to be an Advocate
- Believe that YOU can make a difference.
- Register and vote.
- Know about your government: know your own local, state, and national representatives.
- Know your issue(s) well, and relate hat issue by calling, writing letters, and visiting your elected officials.
- Tell your story. Make sure your information is accurate, specific. Give your contact information in case there is a need for follow-up.
- Join organizations that work to support your issue(s) and stay informed about which policies relate to your own issues so that you can multiply your efforts.
- Educate and involve others in your cause by talking to your neighbors and friends or writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Be willing to compromise, but hold elected officials accountable.
- Build relationships. Stay in touch with your representatives all the time – not just during the session.
- Never give up.
Contacting your elected Officials/Legislation:
- League of Women Voters
- Library of Congress
- Call legislators at the U.S. Capitol switchboard; (202) 224-3121
Writing & Emailing your Legislator
Letters/ Emails should be concise and clear. The content should consist of an expression of how you feel about an issue, and a short explanation of why you feel that way. Legislators and their staff do not need a long, detailed explanation of why you should support an issue. Expect follow up from the legislator, via letter, email or phone.
Calling Your Legislator
When you call your legislature, the first person you will speak to will be a receptionist who handles all the incoming calls. This is most likely the person to whom you will be expressing your opinion. Receptionists generally record the views of callers and pass them onto the appropriate staff member who reports the information to the legislator. Most likely the receptionist is the only person to whom you will speak. Simply inform the receptionist that you are a constituent and you would like to convey your feelings on a particular issue. Be prepared to give your contact information and the number of the bill you are discussing.
Visiting Your Legislator
Contact your legislative aide who can be reached by calling the main office number. The aide may set up an appointment over the phone but usually asks you to send the request in writing. Be sure to confirm the date, time, location, the issues you want to discuss, and any other people who will be coming with you.
Although you are not expected to be an expert on the issue, you should be prepared for the visit. Have any materials you will be presenting ready to go. If you visit as a group, it is always a good idea to have one person take the lead.
You may meet with just the legislator’s aide, or both the legislature and staff with whom you meet. Aides are important members of a legislature’s team and are relied on heavily by the legislature.
After your visit, write a thank-you letter and staff with whom you meet. Reiterate your main arguments on the issues, and include any information that might have been requested at the meeting. If the legislator was not present, you should still send him/her a copy of the thank you letter you send to the aide.