How to Reach Out to Elected Officials
IFT can help you contact your policy makers and be successful in your advocacy efforts.
Tips on Telephoning Your Elected Officials
To find the phone number of senators and representatives, you may search free government websites at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, or you can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask the operator for contact information for your elected official.
Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress.
- Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.
- After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.___)."
- Clearly state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Avoid using technical jargon and acronyms, or if they must be used, define them.
- Ask for your senators' or representative's position on the bill.
- Leave your contact information and offer to provide further information if it would be helpful.
NOTE: You may also request a written response to your telephone call.
Tips on E-mailing Congressional Offices
E-mail is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide to write an e-mail, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of your correspondence:
- Your purpose for writing should be stated clearly in the first paragraph of the e-mail. If your e-mail pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.
- Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position. Often the best examples include why this is important to you, your work, your institution, your state.
- Avoid using technical jargon and acronyms, or if they must be used, define them.
- Address only one issue in each e-mail; and, if possible, keep the e-mail to four succinct paragraphs.
- Provide your contact information in the e-mail and offer to provide further information if it would be helpful.
NOTE: You may also request a response to your e-mail.
Tips on Letters to Congressional Offices
Generally, the same guidelines apply as with writing e-mails to Congress. You may find a mailing address for your senators and representative directly at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. However, please note that there is a considerable lag time between when you send the letter and when it is ultimately received in a House or Senate office. Therefore, you may want to opt for phone calls or e-mails.
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Madam Speaker or Mr. Speaker: