ADVOCACY 101: How to Write to Your Legislator
Letters & emails are a useful advocacy tactic.
The amount of mail a legislator gets on a certain issue can help determine its importance for them. For example, if a legislator gets a lot of emails saying “vote NO on this bill,” it will make an impression.
State who you are & what you want up front.
In the first sentence tell your elected official that you are a constituent. Identify your name and address. You should also clearly identify the issue you are writing about. If your letter is about a specific piece of legislation, it helps to identify it by its bill number.
Example: Dear Senator, My name is Jane Smith and I live in your district at 111 Anyplace Lane in RI. I am writing to you about SB 5 to make our employment practices more fair. I urge you to support these values and this important bill.
Hit your 3 most important points.
Choose the three strongest points that will be most effective in persuading policy makers to support your position and flesh them out.
Example: I encourage you to support this bill because it impacts me and my family, it is important to our economy, and fairness is a value we all hold dear.
Personalize your letter.
Tell your elected official why this legislation matters to you, your family and your community. Feel free to briefly share your personal story. Policymakers use these stories in debate and in making up their mind about how to vote. This is about educating your elected officials to see things from your point of view.
Personalize your relationship
Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to his or her campaign? Are you familiar with her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell them. However, you don't have to be a big donor to make a big difference. In fact, sincere personal stories are always the most powerful.
As a constituent, remember - you’re the expert.
Don't be afraid to take a firm position. Remember, policymakers are learning too. As a constituent you have valuable perspective that helps them cast their vote wisely.
Always be courteous and to the point. Don't use all caps and don't use profanity.