Make a phone call to your member of Congress
This article is part of Advocacy Basics: Working with Congress.
This milestone takes things offline and starts making them more personal. Making a phone call to your member of Congress can be an intimidating prospect, but it will be the next step in creating a solid relationship with your legislator and his or her office staff, as well as the next step in building your advocacy muscles.
Tips for a Good First Phone Call
- Determine the reason for your call. It may be best for you to use your first call as a means for getting information or offering a thank you. You can also use this first conversation as a way to get some good preliminary information about your member of Congress. Which aides should you speak with about a particular campaign? When is the next time your legislator will be in town and taking appointments with constituents?
- Do some research and see if you can find a place of connection with your legislator. Use these tools to help:
- Learn how to research your members of Congress with our online training webinar.
- Research your members of Congress from the RESULTS website
- Find websites for your members of Congress: www.house.gov or www.senate.gov, including phone numbers to their Washington offices.
- Find more information at www.congress.org.
- Ask yourself: Where has she taken an action on one of our issues? What are his particular interests and areas of leadership? This could give you an idea of how to form your question or thank you.
- Script out your call. Use the RESULTS EPIC Laser Talk to draft what you will say on the call. Try sure to personalize what you say, if possible; i.e. relate a story about you or someone you know to the issue you are discussing.
- Practice, practice, practice! If you have never made a phone call before, run through the conversation out loud with a partner or by yourself. This will allow you to “hear” things you may not notice from silently reading your script. It will also familiarize yourself with your argument so you feel more comfortable when the real conversation takes place.
- When calling, ask for the aide that works on your issue. If that person is not available, ask if there is someone else you can speak to. Even if it is not the aide you want to speak to, he or she still might be a key person in the office and someone that you may speak to again. You can even ask to directly with the member of Congress, but instances where you speak directly with him/her are rare.
- It’s OK to be nervous. Even the most seasoned advocates still get nervous making calls to Congress. The key is making that first phone call. Even if your first call is to the receptionist for your member of Congress urging a yes or no vote on a particular piece of legislation, that is an important first step. Just like everything in life, the more you do it, the better and more confident you will get.