Effective Advocacy Checklist

Effective Advocacy Checklist

Uncertain about how to communicate with Congress on the federal level? This checklist will keep you on the right track!

Is My Congressman’s Office the Best Place to Start?
Yes! I want my representative or senator to take a position on a certain federal (not state or local) issue.

Background Research

Think about the following questions:

  • Who are my representative and senators?
  • What is their legislative record and general philosophy?
  • What issues are they passionate about?
  • What committees are my representatives or senators on?
  • What party does my representative or senator belong to?

Message Development

Tell a compelling story — you have something of value to contribute!

  • Know your facts.
  • Make your message your own.
  • Be positive!

General Message Delivery

These tips apply to all communications — letters, phone calls, and meetings:

  • Decide which method of communication suits you and your purpose.
  • Develop a thoughtful, well-argued message.
  • Ask your member to take a specific action.
  • Ask your member to respond to the request.
  • Make it clear what your priorities are.
  • Tell your congressional office how you can be an ongoing resource.
  • Make your message targeted and forceful without being rude or threatening.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Be reasonable about opposing points of view.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about opposing arguments.

Effective Meetings

  • Look at the congressional calendar to determine when the congressperson is in district.
  • Decide who you want to deliver your message (preferably someone from the district).
  • Limit the number of people you bring to the meeting.
  • If you’re in DC for a national meeting, try to coordinate with others from your state.
  • Fax the scheduler a meeting request, including a list of issues and attendees.
  • Follow-up with a phone call to the scheduler after sending a written request.
  • Schedule carefully to assure you will be on time, but not too early, for each meeting.
  • Be prepared to meet anywhere — standing up in the hallway or on the run to a vote.
  • Be prepared to deliver your message in five minutes.
  • Make sure you have short, concise, and consistent information to leave behind.
  • Leave your information in a file folder with your organization’s name on the label.

Effective Written Communications

  • Make your communication stand out by making it personal, thoughtful, and accurate.
  • Ask for a response.
  • Confine each written communication to one topic.
  • Double check office numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses.

Effective Phone Calls

  • Have the basic facts about the issue on hand.
  • If you want someone to think about what you’re saying, ask for a response.

Following Up

  • Send a thank you note to the staff and the member soon after a meeting.
  • Wait at least two weeks for a response before checking back.

Stephanie Vance
Advocacy Associates

Click below to download a printable flyer with the information on this page.

Printable PDF Flyer