Send an email to your member of Congress
Sending an email is a great way to get in touch with your member of congress. This is an easy way to express your thoughts and concerns regarding various issues at the state and federal level. This form of advocacy allows you to become more familiar with how to research your member of congress as well as build your courage as an advocate.
Create and send your email. Make sure you engage your audience, state the problem, inform about solutions and give a call to action!
Make a phone call to your member of Congress
Make a phone call to your member of Congress
Making a phone call to your member of Congress will help create a stronger relationship with your legislator and his or her staff. This is a more personal form of advocacy and can be more effective.
Tips for a good phone call:
1. Determine the reason for your call. Use your first call as a way to receive information or offer a thank you.
2. Research and try to find a place of connection with your legislator.
3. Script out your call. Personalize what you say by adding a story about someone you know to the issue you’re discussing.
4. Practice! Run through the conversation out loud.
5. It’s okay to be nervous. The more you do it, the better and more confident you’ll get!
Write a letter to your member of Congress
Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents. They depend on you to educate them about what is happening in their district or state and what legislation is most important to their constituents. Writing a letter ensures that the people who make decisions on your behalf every day know how you want to be represented. Be sure to introduce yourself and share why your care about the issue. Be sure to request a reply and include all of your contact information.
Ask a question at a town hall meetingGoing to an event where a member of Congress or candidate is speaking provides an excellent opportunity to thank him or her in public, make a particular request, or encourage stronger leadership on one of our issues. It is also a way to get the elected official or candidate to take a stand or create a platform on our issues when he or she might not otherwise pay attention to them. By presenting carefully prepared and powerful questions, you have the chance to influence members of Congress as well as educate the community in the room. See a sampling of questions here.
Tips on attending a town hall:
1. Find out where your member of Congress is.
2. Prepare questions ahead of time.
3. Work in teams.
4. Identify yourself, stay polite and remain focused.
5. Follow up.
Arrange a site visit for your member of Congress
Schedule a visit for members of Congress in areas or at programs which serve children and families. These visits show them just how important these programs are to people in their constituency and can make the difference in securing support for campaign priorities.
Tips to be used to set up a site visit with a member of Congress:
1. Choose a site that can illustrate the issue/campaign on which you’re choosing to focus
2. Contact your chosen site, propose a site visit, and negotiate two or three potential visit dates
3. Contact your legislator’s scheduler by letter with the request to accompany you to your site.
4. Offer to provide background information on the target issue, on the site to be visited and the learning goals of the visit.
5. Confirm the visit with both the site and the member’s office a week beforehand and again the day before.
6. Plan to be at the site early and help greet the member of Congress when he/she arrives.
7. Thank the legislator and accompanying staff for their time and offer to schedule a de-brief session.
8. Thank the site for their hospitality.
Write a letter to the editor
Tips on generating a letter to the editor:
1. Be current.
2. Construct your letter.
3. Be clear and concise.
4. Connect the dots between your community and the state or federal issue you’re addressing.
5. Be challenging.
6. Mention members of Congress by name.
7. Call to action.
8. Include your contact information.
9. Coordinate your efforts.
If your letter gets published, send a copy to your Congressional offices and to us!
Sample Letters to the Editor
We owe it to the children to take voting seriously
Christopher Daniels, Reno
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010 | 2:02 a.m.
As the election draws closer, we voters cannot afford to be disheartened by the political process. We need to do our part and become an informed and educated electorate.
We need to show up to the polls in November and vote for representatives strongly committed to causes that matter most to us, and especially to represent those who do not have a voice, Nevada’s children.
The children need our help. Nevada has one of the worst high school graduation rates in the country. If you want to help improve graduation rates, contact the candidates and ask what they plan to do to provide high-quality education to our children, and then hold them accountable for bringing those plans to fruition.
We have the opportunity to elect representatives — regardless of party affiliation — who will fight for children, families and communities of this state, and we have a responsibility to do so.
The writer is assistant coordinator of the Northern Nevada region of Every Child Matters, a national nonpartisan group seeking to make children and families a political priority.
To the editor:
Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Leonard Boswell are exactly right in their assessment that the Ryan budget will hurt seniors and middle class Americans. However, what many critics of the proposed budget have failed to publicly address is how its deep cuts to social programs will harm America's children and ultimately our collective future.
The Ryan budget makes deep cuts, slashing or eliminating services needed by working families, students, the jobless and the uninsured. With millions of families hurt by unemployment and reduced income, the Ryan budget would make things worse by weakening Medicaid and calling for cuts in education and food assistance. At the same time it is cutting programs for lower-income Americans, the Ryan budget is giving tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals.
While lawmakers in Washington are debating how to cut the deficit, they would be wise to not only hold children harmless, but to publicly discuss why children's programs need to be spared -- not only for the sake of children but for our country's future. Children are our future!
(Published in Fosters Democrat)
To the editor:
The organization I work for, Every Child Matters, is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization focusing on children's issues. We believe that every child needs to have positive outcomes in life, and the Federal and State budgets must support programs that will lead to this.
My boss asked me what the New Hampshire budget does that is positive for children. After much consideration, I put together this list:
— Many children will have the opportunity to buy their fast food hamburgers and fries at a discounted price, because that is where they will be working since tuition in any of the University System of NH colleges will be out of their reach.
— Many of New Hampshire's children will make many new friends as they are forced to change schools at least once, if not more often, because their parents can no longer afford rent or mortgage.
— Some New Hampshire kids will get to continuously experience the fun of camping, as tents will replace bedrooms for them.
— A lot of kids won't have to worry about those scary visits to the dentist or getting shots at the doctor's office, as they may no longer be eligible for NH Healthy Kids.
— Those yucky, healthy fresh vegetables like broccoli and spinach will not be on their plates for dinner, as parents have to make their food stamps go further by buying less costly foods.
— Some of New Hampshire's children at risk will end up with 3 square meals a day, a cot to sleep on, and a 30 cent an hour job in the state prison because the CHINS funding was cut.
— Many school-age children will find they now have plenty of time to tend to their crops in Farmville, because their parents can no longer afford their after-school program.
— Lots of preschool kids will know the songs in every Nickelodeon show, because they will be watching TV instead of playing at the child care center with their friends due to the cuts in child care assistance.
This budget will have consequences for every person in the State, from higher health insurance premiums as the hospitals need to replace lost funding streams, to higher property taxes as costs for services that the state once helped to fund downshift to cities and towns.
There are so many cuts in this budget that will adversely affect children and families directly and others that will impact them in less obvious but still harmful ways.
If children are the future, why have our legislators turned their backs on them?
Write or generate an op-ed
Advocates with access to up-to-date, accurate information on our issues are perfect candidates for writing a powerful op-ed or for generating an opinion piece signed by a member of Congress or influential community member.
Tips for generating an op-ed:
1. Check the editorial page or the paper’s website for instructions on submitting an op-ed.
2. Try composing your op-ed using the same format you would use for a letter to the editor.
3. Get in touch with how you personally feel about the issue and feel free to use personal examples, relating your message to your own experiences.
4. It’s often helpful to open with a story or anecdotes and then circle back around to the issue by referencing it at the end.
5. Make sure there is a call to action for your members of Congress and/or your readers. An op-ed is a prominent piece that will be read my many people; use this opportunity to be bold in what you want.
6. Make your piece current and relevant. Have it relate to something that is going on now.
Sample Op Ed
Where the responsibility really lies
Michael R. Petit
Sunday, April 3, 2011
In your March 27 editorial, "It's not the fed's job to bail out New Hampshire," you begin with the question "Who is responsible for the health and well-being of New Hampshire's children?" The editorial then states that our non-partisan organization, Every Child Matters in New Hampshire, believes the answer is the federal government. Actually, we don't believe that nor did we say it.
The primary responsibility for children rests with families, with help from our private and public institutions including local, state, and federal governments. In fact, this partnership has worked quite well in New Hampshire over the years, to the point where New Hampshire children consistently rank near or at the top in measures of child well-being. It's also true that the economic downturn threatens that status — child poverty rates are climbing quickly in New Hampshire, for example. The decline in New Hampshire's child well-being will be made worse than it needs to be, however, if the response by a majority of New Hampshire's state and federal lawmakers is to indiscriminately cut proven children's health, social and anti-poverty programs, many of which — the Earned Income Tax Credit, child protection, and WIC, for example — were supported by earlier GOP Congresses and presidents. These programs annually bring hundreds of millions of dollars in support to New Hampshire's working families.
We believe all children are American children first, not an individual state's children first. And that's because, unlike New Hampshire and most of the other New England states, there are still states with large numbers of impoverished minority children who simply won't make needed investments in kids. In these circumstances, yes, there remains good reason why the federal government has been a force in creating opportunities for all children. And it's reason enough for New Hampshire's congressional delegation to start holding children harmless in tackling the federal deficit. There are plenty of other ways Congress can control costs without harming our children.
If the cuts passed in H.R. 1, the House budget bill, become law, thousands of New Hampshire's already distressed children and families will have even more trouble making ends meet. That in turn means a less competitive, less healthy work force in the future. Kids didn't cause our nation's budget woes. Why make them pay the price?
Host a table in your community
This can be a fun way to educate members of your community and get information out on issues regarding the well being of children and families. Many local events allow groups and vendors to set up tables so attendees can browse for different opportunities in their area. This is a very non-threatening way for organizations and programs to provide people with information on what they do and answer any questions community members may have.
Where to set up a table:
-Conferences related to social justice
Organize a letter writing meeting in your community
Letter-writing meetings are a great way to engage people in your community in advocacy that is quick, easy, and effective. It gives people the opportunity to learn and take action on an issue in a friendly casual setting. Letter writing can happen in a variety of settings.
Even before you choose the setting for your letter-writing, you may want to determine your topic and goal for your work. Do you want to speak to a member of Congress, to the media, or even to the administration?
Organize your meeting by providing plenty of the action sheets you’ll be using, along with paper and pens, envelopes and stamps and the address of the DC office of your chosen legislator.
Speak to a local community group
A great advocacy tool is your own voice. A great way to use it is to make a presentation at a local event in your area about your organization or an issue regarding the well being of children and families.
-Identify an audience that shares an interest in your issues and the work you do
-Pick your topic
-Identify your target and contact
-Draft and practice your presentation
-Deliver your presentation
Host a successful outreach meeting
By providing the opportunity for others to learn about programs and services they benefit from, you not only strengthen your work in advocacy, you provide an effective and successful outlet for those out there wanting to make a difference but are not sure how. Once a guest list is created, here are some tips for maximizing your meeting.
-Make sure there is a point person for the arranging of your logistics (location, locking/unlocking of facility, technology needs, building signage)
-Assign hospitality to someone — food and drink helps make everyone feel welcome!
-Have a sign-in sheet so attendees can list their name and contact information.
-Give yourself enough time to do invitation to participate
-Be clear and enthusiastic
-Be up front at the start of your meeting that the purpose is to get a certain number of new advocates. Be clear that no commitment is being required, but everyone who would like to be an advocate is very welcome.
-Weave a personal story to underscore how powerful your program is and what their participation could mean for children and families.
-Use strong, relevant quotes from people whose name or position is familiar to the audience.
-Make the most of it: Celebrate the new people who sign up or donate and have clear next steps for those who are getting involved. (Have your next meeting scheduled or give enough time to do schedule it before people leave your event.)