How to Contact Congress

By Debbie Wuthnow

How to Contact Congress

Our Best Tips for Effective Communication

As the 118th Congress gets into full swing, we want to make sure you’re well equipped to effectively contact your Members of Congress (MOCs) to stand up for the values and principles you hold dear.

FINDING YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Every voter will have three Members to contact. The two U.S. Senators from your state and the Representative from your district can be found by using the following links:

To save time, many people keep a “cheat sheet” -- one document with all of the names and contact information that can be easily accessed multiple times.

CONTACTING YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Tip #1: Call the Direct Number
If possible, you should learn the direct number to your representatives’ offices rather than calling the switchboard. (The “cheat sheet” mentioned above helps greatly!) When you call directly, your number is displayed on caller ID. Simply put, Members care what you think because they need your vote. Staff quickly learn area codes and are more likely to take the call when they see it’s from their district/state.
Tip #2: Identify Yourself as Being From the District
No matter how you're contacting your Member, always start by giving your zip code so the office knows you are in the district. If you do not live in a Member’s district, it’s best to rally your friends who DO live in the district rather than calling them yourself.
If you need to leave a message, don’t hesitate to do so – but don’t forget to leave your zip code. As staffers listen to messages, they will tally the “yeses” and “noes” from people in the district, and the information will be passed on the member.
You can fax! Some offices still have fax machines that are rarely used. Sending a fax can be a great way to reach those offices.
Tip #3: Be Specific
Be as specific as possible about what bill/issue you’re referring to and how you want them to vote. Brief is not bad. “I’m John Smith, a constituent in zip code XXXXX, and I’m calling to ask the Congressman to please vote no on H.R.1” is perfectly fine.
In most cases, the reason you oppose or support a bill is not relevant to your Member. It’s all about the numbers. At their best, Members are trying to represent the voters in their district, but now is not the time, for example, to try to convince your Member why they should be pro-life if they aren’t. The goal is for enough calls to come in regarding specific legislation that your Member believes could affect the outcome of his next election.
Tip #4: Be Timely
Your Member's office is fielding so many calls that they have to find a way to prioritize. Call them when a bill addressing your issue is before the body.
Tip #5: Be Nice!
Remember that you will be speaking with staff or even an unpaid intern who might not even share the views of the Member. They also may be getting hundreds or thousands of calls. Respect, civility, and even kindness go a long way.
People can rise very quickly in congressional offices. The staffer you talk to today might be the Chief of Staff next time you call, and they'll remember who was nice to them when they were first starting out.
Learn names. Take every opportunity to build a relationship.
Being nice is also the best marketing any cause can have! Issues and stances are fairly judged by the people who espouse them. Be a light for your values – and for God.
Tip #6: Say “Thank You”
Don't just call when you’re upset. If a member voted how you wanted them to vote, call back to thank them. We often only use the “stick” to try to motivate our members and forget that the “carrot” goes a long way, too!
Call to say “thank you;” you’ll make someone’s day.
WRAPPING UP
We hope you find this information helpful as we move further into the year. We'd like to take a moment to thank former staff of a U.S. Senator, former staff of the House Committee on Administration, former staff of a Texas State Representation, and a current Fair Oaks Ranch councilwoman for their expertise.


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