How to be an advocate

IMG_1161Advocacy is a powerful opportunity for us to engage decision makers from a faith-based perspective and to show love for our neighbor in a tangible way. There are many ways to do advocacy work, including writing letters to members of Congress, visiting congressional offices, and using social media as an advocacy tool. Here are some tips:

Meeting with your members of Congress:

Visiting a legislator’s office, either locally or in Washington D.C., is the most effective way for a citizen to do advocacy. Congressional recessess are an excellent time to meet locally with your legislator (see the recess schedule for the House and the Senate).

Schedule ahead, preferably at least two weeks in advance, specifying the issue you wish to discuss. Mention a preferred date and length of meeting as well as the number of people coming.
Choose a specific issue to discuss and assign roles if you are visiting as a group.
Prepare for the visit by researching information on your legislator’s co-sponsorship of bills and previous votes. The Washington Office is happy to help with this.
Leave materials. It is useful to bring supporting materials or position papers to leave with the person you meet.
Write a follow up letter thanking the legislator or staff member for the meeting. Reiterate your position.
Let us know how it went!

Writing letters and emails:

Letters and emails are also excellent means to educate and persuade your member of Congress. Emails are good ways to ensure timely delivery of your views while providing a written record of your communication.

Keep it short and focus on one subject.
State your purpose and be clear what action are asking the congressperson to take.
Identify the bill or issue. It is helpful to summarize and include the bill number or legislation title when referring to a specific piece of legislation.
Personalize your message. We often provide sample letters – use them to guide your own letter instead of copying them word-for-word. Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent and include personal stories and connections to your district.
Say “well done!” Be sure to thank your congressperson when they vote the right way or take a courageous stand.

Using social media for advocacy:

Use your social media accounts to talk to your members of Congress. Let them act as educational and motivational tools to affect the way Congress makes policy in relation to the issues you are concerned about.

Monitor and comment on your congressperson’s official Facebook page.
Share articles and infographics you find meaningful on your Facebook page –and tag your congressperson to your posts.
Use Twitter to share what you are doing with your members of Congress –send them a direct tweet or mention them in your tweet.





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