What the heck is appropriations, and what’s it got to do with me?

January 5, 2020

How do you want Congress to spend your tax dollars? Now you get to tell them.

Every year, Congress decides how to spend the money in the federal budget. Most of that money is already earmarked for mandatory programs (like Social Security and Medicare), but a smaller portion of the budget is more flexible and can be spent on programs Congress considers a priority.

That’s where you come in.

You, along with your fellow RESULTS advocates, tell Congress what they should prioritize.


By asking your members of Congress to allocate specific amounts of funding for global health and education programs that fight poverty around the world.

This process can take several months, but it makes a massive difference. In recent years, RESULTS advocates have not only convinced Congress to reject massive cuts proposed by the White House, but they’ve secured funding increases for global health, education, and development programs.

These aren’t just numbers on a page – this is funding that helps kids go to school and get life-saving medical treatment. The work you do now has a tangible, real-life impact for millions of people around the world.

So, how does it work?

From January to June, RESULTS volunteers will be working to secure U.S. government funding for global health and education, through what’s called the “appropriations” process. You ask your member of Congress for what’s needed, and they fight to get it done.

When it comes to global health and poverty funding, most members of Congress never hear from their constituents. That means you have an absolutely central role to play.

Together we’ll push to get members of Congress from across the country to sign on to joint letters calling for specific levels of funding. You can also support your member of Congress to make individual requests to their colleagues in key decision-making roles. To keep on the pressure, you’ll follow up with phone calls and letters to your local newspaper. And you’ll keep scheduling in-person meetings when you can.

This can all get a little messy, but if you’re willing to stick with the process, it really works. Advocates like you have been the difference in billions of dollars of additional funding for programs that fight poverty.

The appropriations process is filled with jargon and acronyms that get thrown around on Capitol Hill. Bookmark this cheat-sheet of terms to use throughout the spring!

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