Tips for communicating with elected officials

Whether you're making a call, writing a letter or sending an email, here are some tips for communicating with your representatives (adapted from Literacy Action Network's Legislative Toolkit):

  • Be specific. Choose one issue and identify it right away. Make it clear what side of the issue you are on and what action you would like your official to take.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent. Constituents always get priority over others wanting the elected official’s ear.
  • Get personal. Tell your legislator why the issue (the specific bill, a proposed cut, etc.) will help or hurt you, your children, your business or your community. Explain what it means to you
  • Be informative. If you can, include statistics and other facts that lend credibility to your views. Remember, when calling you may talk to a staff person who knows little about your issue. Avoid jargon.
    *If you're looking for data to help you articulate the value of adult basic education and the Corporation for Community and National Service (CNCS), which funds AmeriCorps VISTA, we can help! Find more here.
  • Be polite and reasonable. Lawmakers can't please everyone. They may disagree with you. Try to respect their views. Don't lose your temper, on the phone or in writing. Tell your legislator what you think and why, but be polite.
  • Be courteous. Be sure to say "thank you." Although a legislator may be opposed to the particular bill for which you are advocating, there may be bills in the future that s/he could support. If you are courteous, the legislator or his/her staff will remember and want to work with you again.