Plan an advocacy visit
An in-person visit to your legislator can influence the policy-making process and reinforce relationships with your legislator and their staff. You can schedule an in-person meeting by sending a request to the district office by phone or email.
Sample Request for Visit (email):
The Honorable XX
Attention: Scheduler/Appropriate Staff Name
Dear Senator/ Representative/etc. XX,
As a constituent and public health professional, I am writing to request an appointment with _______ (Senator/ Representative/etc XX) in _______(name of town where nearest district office is located) on ______ (insert date and times available) to discuss _______ (issue). Please contact me to let me know when the _________ (Senator/Representative/etc.) or the relevant staffer might be available to meet. I will follow up with you in the next week by phone.
Thank you for considering my request.
____________ (Contact information)
U.S. Representatives (Maryland)
Before Your Visit
Your visit with legislators is important to raise awareness and show your support of an issue. Proper preparation will help you clearly communicate your requests and enjoy your visit. In this section, we offer advice to guide your discussion, the roles of participants at the visit (if visiting with a group), and more.
Do your homework
- Research the legislator you are scheduled to meet. Determine their involvement on committees and their past support of policies related to the issue.
- Understand the issue/bill/proposal. Research the components of the bill or proposal you would like to discuss.
- Anticipate questions. Brainstorm questions the legislator or their staff may ask regarding the issue with a colleague.
- Practice delivering your main points and your specific request.
Your team (if visiting with a group)
- Limit your team to 2-4 people.
- Review the order, goals, and expectations of the advocacy visit.
- Determine roles of each team member. Roles to fulfill include:
- Coordinator: confirms meeting logistics, monitors meeting start and end times, facilitates introductions, provides overview, and sends thank you notes.
- Topic presenter (one per person per issue discussed): presents main talking points, shares stories, delivers the ask/request.
- Recorder: takes notes and follows up on requests, completes any feedback forms offered by legislative staff
- Historian: captures photos (if permission granted), shares moments on social media
General preparation tips:
- Present no more than 3 issues per visit.
- Print enough resources or visuals to leave behind at the legislative office.
- Dress business casual.
- Plan to arrive 15 minute early.
- Be polite and respectful.
- Don’t make up responses to answers; be honest. You can always provide further information at later time.
- Enjoy your visit!
During Your Visit
A typical meeting with a legislator or staffer usually follows a similar progression:
- Begin the meeting with introductions. Each individual introduces themselves, their organizations, and if they are constituents of the legislator (if applicable).
- Thank the legislator for their efforts (vote, action in community, etc.) and their time.
Lead with the reason for your visit, i.e. “We are here to ask you to support/oppose…”
- Tell personal stories to highlight the significance and the impact of the issue.
- Ask questions about the issue or bill to gain more insight from a legislator perspective.
- Close the visit.
Review comments and follow-up as requested.
- Offer to be a resource on the issue.
- Thank the legislator and/or staff for their time and the conversation.
- Leave advocacy materials and contact information behind.
- Take photos with legislator and staff (if permission granted).
After Your Visit
Follow-up in a timely matter. Your prompt follow-up builds and strengthens the shared understanding and relationship you developed during your advocacy visit.
- Debrief with your team on the visit (e.g. positives, negatives, and things to improve
- Ensure follow-up requests are completed
- Send a thank-you letter to your legislator or staffer with whom you met (template below)
- Share photos from your visit on social media
- Complete advocacy visit feedback form/report card and submit as instructed (if applicable)
Sample Thank You Email
I/we would like to express my/our appreciation for the opportunity to meet with you on _______ (date) about ______ (e.g.,support, oppose, sponsorship of ______ (bill number and title, if there is one).
You will recall that we touched on ________ (list the key issues that you discussed, e.g. funding for certain programs, long-term services and support, or other issues).
(You may include some talking points, if you wish.)
(If you promised to follow up with any other information, include it here.)
I/we thank you for your time and consideration of (your ask).
(Your contact information)