Keep at it. Your advocacy is working.
Do you ever wonder if meeting with your member of Congress has an impact?
According to new research out this week, the answer is: absolutely.
Researchers talked with over 1,200 congressional staff about what really influences lawmakers. Here is what they wrote in their report:
- Direct constituent interactions have more influence on lawmakers’ decisions than other advocacy strategies. In three surveys of congressional staff over a 10-year span, 99% (2004), 97% (2010), and 94% (2015) said that “in-person visits from constituents” would have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided lawmaker.
- Congress places a high value on groups and citizens who have built relationships with the legislator and staff. When asked what advocacy groups should do more of to build relationships with the office, 79% of staff surveyed said “meet or get to know the Legislative Assistant with jurisdiction over their issue area” and 62% said “meet or get to know the District/State Director.”
- Citizen advocates are more influential and contribute to better public policy when they provide personalized and local information to Congress. 9 out of 10 (91%) congressional staffers surveyed said it would be helpful to have “information about the impact the bill/issue would have on the district or state.” However, only 9% report they receive that information frequently. Similarly, 79% said a personal story from a constituent related to the bill or issue would be helpful, but only 18% report they receive it frequently.
- Citizens have significant potential to enhance their advocacy skills and influence Congress. After concluding 40 hours of CMF/Feeding America advanced advocacy training conducted over four months, citizen-advocates from local food banks met their Members and congressional staff. Whereas 12% of congressional staff report that the typical constituent they meet with is “very prepared,” 97% of the congressional staff who met advanced advocacy trainees agreed that these citizen-advocates were “very prepared” for their meetings.
Sound familiar? This research confirms what we’ve known for years: what you do as RESULTS volunteers really works, and you are having an enormous impact. These may be challenging political times, but the opportunity to make your voice heard has perhaps never been greater — or more necessary.