STEP 1: BEFORE YOU START
Choose your issue. Lobby meetings are often centered around a specific “ask” of the legislator, typically their support on a particular piece of legislation, releasing a statement or signing on to congressional letters, etc. For information about current legislative options, contact [email protected]
Schedule your lobby visit. The first step in planning your lobby visit is scheduling your meeting. Since congress members’ schedules often fill up quickly, it’s best to contact them as far in advance as possible.
- Find Your Representative or Senator: Visit www.congress.org and type in your zip code to find your member of Congress.
- Send a Meeting Request by email or fax to the Scheduler in your senator or representative’s office
- Follow-up with a call to the Scheduler in your senator or representative’s office and be sure to confirm your meeting a few days in advance.
Recruit attendees. Recruit other activists and community leaders to take part in your lobby meeting. Consider asking local members of diaspora or survivor communities, faith leaders or student leaders who are engaged on your issue. Aim for 3-6 participants for your meeting—more than 6 people can lower the effectiveness of your meeting.
STEP 2: PREPARE AND PRACTICE FOR YOUR VISIT
It’s important to be prepared for your meeting. Make sure that you go in to the meeting with specific “asks” that you want your representative or senator to work towards and the background information necessary to explain why the issue should demand their attention.
- Research your elected Officials. Check to see if your member of Congress has taken any other action on. Also, look on your elected official’s website to find out what committees they are on and what they have done in the past.
- Review Recent News. Brush up on the latest developments surrounding your issue. Check out United to End Genocide’s website and blog for latest updates and analysis on the conflicts we are working on.
- Prepare or collect any materials you plan give to the Congressperson or their staff. United to End Genocide often has informational handouts that you print out and bring with you.
- Meet with your lobbying group to plan out your lobby visit. Before your visit meet with the others who will be participating in your meeting. Determine who will be facilitating the meeting and who will say what. Be sure that everyone has a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting and the exact “ask” so that you can stay on topic during the meeting.
STEP 3: VISIT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON’S LOCAL OFFICE
Follow your Agenda. Remember that your time with your representative or senator may be limited, so prioritize in advance.
- Introductions: Everyone in the group should introduce themselves with a brief background on who they represent and, in some cases, a brief background on their connection to the issue.
- Thank you for past support of your issue: If your elected official has a good voting record on the issue you are focusing on, thank them for their past support of a particular piece of legislation, statement they issued or other action they took.
- Overview of local grassroots efforts: Talk about specific local events or actions that you have organized
- Be clear about your asks: If there is legislation pending, ask specifically, “Will you support ____?”
- If they’re unresponsive:
- Pressure them to give specific reasons for their failure to support the specific legislation.
- Communicate your disappointment and urge them to reconsider their position. Be assertive but respectful.
- Looking Forward: What else do they see their self working on in relation to your cause? What are their future plans for action? If you are provided with the opportunity, it can also be useful to find out if they have heard of other efforts that we should be aware of.
STEP 4: FOLLOW UP
Thank the office for their time. Be sure to send a follow up email or call to the office thanking those who participated for their time. Pass along any additional information that the legislator may have asked for during the meeting. Remember that one objective of your contact is to establish an ongoing relationship with your legislator and establish yourself as a reliable source of information.
Let us know how it goes!
Email us at: [email protected] and give us your feedback.