Reaching Out to Legislators
Elected officials want to hear your perspective or experience with an issue and concise, persuasive arguments are the best way to get your point across. Letters, e-mails and phone calls are effective ways to communicate. Five or six letters or phone calls on a specific issue will encourage elected officials to pay much closer attention to that issue. Personalized letters are always most effective.
When communicating with legislators through a phone call, letter or e-mail, be sure to:
- Identify yourself as a constituent.
- Keep written correspondence to one page and phone calls to five minutes.
- Refer to the bill number when addressing a specific piece of legislation.
- Include factual and local information and examples that support your viewpoint.
- Stay on topic: Discuss one issue per written communication or conversation.
- Include a call to action by specifying what you want the lawmaker to do.
How to Be an Effective Advocate
To get your point across, a good strategy can make a difference. To make sure your opinion counts, keep in mind these tips for communicating with elected officials and other policy makers.
# 1: Develop relationships
Don’t forget that elected officials serve you. They want to hear from you but are most likely to listen if you are civil and if you take time to develop relationships. Legislators, administrators and staff are all important to know.
#2: Think big
Keep the bigger picture in mind as you present your position. Legislators must balance many interests and appreciate people who understand that.
#3: Keep it simple
You only will get to talk to a legislator for a short time so keep your message simple and direct. Make sure you get the same message out to other members of the delegation.
#4: Follow up
A personal thank you will go a long way. Use that message as another opportunity to reinforce your position.
Find Your Legislators
All you need is your home address to see which elected officials represent you in state government and in the U.S. Congress. The Illinois State Board of Elections website makes it easy to find your legislator.
Advocacy tips provided by United Way of Illinois.