Strategy: Writing to Congress

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Writing to your legislator can be an effective way of drawing attention to an urgent issue. E-mail is now the most efficient and inexpensive way to do this, and it eliminates the delays of traditional mail. In some cases, an in-person letter-writing campaign may be preferred as a fun, social way to boost the enthusiasm of a group doing advocacy work.Whether sending letters or e-mail, be sure to include your name and address at the top of your message. This helps staffers identify whether or not you are a constituent. Not sure which congressmen and women represent your area? Websites like the Americans for the Arts Action Fund will let you enter your zip code and connect with your representatives without even leaving the screen.

Key Points for Writing to Congress

  • Know your issue and provide data if you have it available. State how it affects your organization directly.
  • Identify the issue at stake within the heading/ first paragraph of your message.
  • When working from a form letter, add your own “voice” wherever possible, as personalized letters are given higher priority by many congressional offices.
  • If you are writing in support or opposition to specific legislation, name the measure’s House or Senate bill number and/or title.
  • If the legislation addresses your issue, but offers an incomplete solution, feel free to write with constructive alternatives or modifications (but be brief!)
  • Keep your requests concise and reasonable.
  • Cover only one issue per letter.

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