February 2018 U.S. Poverty Action
Kick Off the #LettersGetLOUD Campaign
RESULTS is kicking off the #LettersGetLOUD campaign to grow our movement and make our voices heard in 2018. We will organize our communities to write letters to members of Congress about ending poverty, and then we’ll hand-deliver them to congressional offices.
In the past year, we’ve seen unparalleled attacks on federal anti-poverty programs that help millions of Americans get affordable health care, put food on the table, and make ends meet. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are pushing to cut these programs in 2018. These threats could appear as unhelpful ‘work requirements’ or simple funding cuts to programs like Medicaid and SNAP (formerly “food stamps”), which is our nation’s primary defense against hunger. But taking away food and health care won’t help people find work or make people healthier – especially without resources to help struggling Americans find work. Congress needs to know that constituents oppose these cuts, especially on the heels of massive tax cuts for the rich and big corporations.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure in this political environment, you’re not alone. But these are threats you can help stop. Now is the time for Congress to hear from you about how the decisions being made in Washington, D.C. affect all of us. Now is the time to get LOUD!
Step 1: Make Your Letter to Congress LOUD
Personal letters from constituents are one of the most effective tools we have in our advocacy toolbox. Here are some tips to maximize your letter’s impact and a template letter to get started:
- Make it personal. Start your letter with the template below, but then customize with your own ideas, examples, and passion. Share why you care about this issue. Share personal experiences and/or things that have made an impression on you.
- Make it local. Include local data/facts/figures. Contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for resources.
- Include a strong call to action. State clearly what you expect them to do.
- Read your letter out loud. At your letter-writing meeting, have people read their letters out loud. It makes the experience much more powerful for everyone.
- Inspire others to take action. If you can and want to, record the reading of letters with your smartphone or camera and share on social media. Include the hashtag #LettersGetLOUD and tag your members of Congress!
- Make a plan to hand-deliver your letters. Request a face-to-face meeting with members of Congress and their staff, gather your letters, and deliver them when you have your meeting. Plan to also deliver letters in DC when you attend the RESULTS International Conference.
Dear [YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS],
As a constituent, I oppose taking health and nutrition assistance away from low-income families. I hope you’ll stand up for effective anti-poverty programs like Medicaid and SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), which I know are facing threats.
[Who you are and why you care about these issues.]
I’m especially worried about so-called “work” proposals that don’t actually help people find jobs, but instead just take away food and health care. Rather than undermining effective basic assistance programs, let’s strengthen and expand them.
I’m counting on you to stand up against any measures that put basic assistance programs at risk.
Step 2: The More Letters, the Louder We Are
Utilize the #LettersGetLOUD campaign as an organizing and outreach tool. By sharing your own letters, you can lead by example. Here are a few tips to engage and inspire your community to take action alongside you:
Invite new people to #LettersGetLOUD letter-writing at your next RESULTS meeting
Use #LettersGetLOUD to open your meetings to new people by giving them something tangible and effective to do. People want to learn and contribute. For those who want to make a difference but don’t know how, writing a personal letter to members of Congress (with a little guidance and encouragement) is an easy and exciting first step.
Build Your Group and Local Action Networks
#LetterGetLOUD is not just about writing letters; it’s also about harnessing people’s renewed passion for change to create new advocates. If someone new joins you in letter-writing, invite them back to your next local RESULTS meeting, lobby meeting, or other event. If they are not ready to commit to joining your group, specifically invite them to join local Action Network. Action Networks are people willing to take action on our issues through e-mails, letters, phone calls, etc. throughout the year. They are an integral part of creating the political will to end poverty as they demonstrate community-wide support for our issues. RESULTS will coordinate with your group on when and how to activate your local Action Networks on a regular basis.
Make it fun, make it social, make it meaningful
Ever thought of throwing an impromptu letter writing party? How about printing out some template letters and action sheets to bring to your favorite local happy hour? Have a church group or knitting circle? They all are great opportunities to make your letters get loud. Think of ways people gather in your community and see if there’s an opportunity to invite others to take action in this meaningful and effective way.
Connect with local organizations, events, and learn from others
Share your knowledge and passion with other organizations. Find local events and offer to train or support others in the advocacy skills you’ve been honing, e.g. local conferences, community meetings, and faith community events. Also reach out to new groups to ask to hear about their experiences and their passions. If appropriate, ask them to write letters with you and then read them aloud. What they choose to write about may inform and inspire you in new ways.