Writing to Policymakers
Letters are an extremely important tool in advocacy. Public
officials expect to receive mail from constituents. They depend
on input from the public to do their jobs. Often legislators
rely on letters and calls to help decide how they will vote.
Letters are one of the best ways to communicate your message -
you have time to be sure you are understood and it is permanent
- they can refer back to it as needed.
On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to
speak one's mind. It becomes a pleasure.
-- Oscar Wilde
- You don't have to be an expert, just explain your point of
- Be brief. You don't get extra points for more words or extra
statistics. Try to keep it to one page.
- Be polite, respectful and reasonable.
- Use your own words - do not pull out a thesaurus.
- Personal stories and observations are the most persuasive
- Be clear - avoid jargon or overly technical language.
- Be specific about your concern and what you want the official to
do about it.
- It is best to address only one issue in a letter.
- If you are a constituent, say so in the first paragraph.
- Call the official's office or visit their website beforehand to
get the correct address, title and spelling. For example -- who
should be addressed "The Honorable" and who
- Be sure your letter is legible. It doesn't have to be typed, but
it should be easy to read.
- Ask for a response.
- Include your name, address, phone number and other contact
information on the letter. Don't rely on your return address --
envelopes often get separated from letters.
- Triple check your work. Have a friendly "editor" look it
over before you send it.
- If you don't hear soon, call to be sure the official got your
letter. Ask again for a response.
- Share the response with any coalitions or partners you are working
- Follow up and find out how the policymaker acted on your issue.
Write to thank them, if appropriate.
- You can "recycle" the language from your letter in
letters to other policymakers, to the same policymaker next year, a
letter to the editor or a fact
Letter Raising a Concern
Letter Opposing a Proposal
Letter Supporting a Proposal
Navigating the Legislative Process
If you only have 5 minutes to
make a difference
How to work with a lobbyist
Collaborations and Coalitions
Research - Finding and Using Data
Legislators - Who are They?
The Importance of Legislative Staff
Visiting with a Policymaker
Calling a Policymaker
Tips No Advocate should forget
How to Create Fact Sheets and
Writing Op-Eds and Letters to
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