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Working with Congress: Activist Milestone #3

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 and making a follow-up phone call only takes a few minutes of your time, but it ensures that the people who make decisions on your behalf every day know how you want to be represented.

RESULTS has long focused on sending handwritten letters to policymakers to show the depth of support for our campaigns - it takes more time to send a personalized letter by hand, and policymakers therefore "weigh" your opinions more seriously than those submitted in form e-mails.

Be sure to introduce yourself and share why you care about the issue. Use the EPIC Laser Talk format to create a concise and powerful letter. See an example of a letter to Congress below.

Also, learn waysLetters to members of Congress how to create a leader in your member of Congress and when appropriate, incorporate those tips into your correspondence with them.

In your letter, be sure to request a reply and include all of your contact information. Once you've sent your letter, wait a few days and then call to make sure the aide that handles these issues received your letter. You can use our Elected Officials page on the RESULTS website to search for the names of key policy aides. After using the above link to find your specific member of Congress, click on the "Staff" tab for a list of aides. If you cannot find or don't know the aide that handles your issue, just call the office and ask.

For additional contact information, go to www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.

Note: All mail sent to congressional offices in Washington is now screened for anthrax, which can take 2 to 6 weeks to process. We suggest you fax a copy of your handwritten letter to Congress, mail or deliver your letter to the local district office, or contact your members of Congress via e-mail (which is less effective than a handwritten letter). You can find all the necessary contact information for your elected officials on the RESULTS website.

Sample Letter to Congress

Dear Senator/Representative____________:

Members of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee are considering spending levels for life-saving global development work for the fiscal year 2010 foreign aid spending bill. I am writing to request that you speak with and write to the leadership of this subcommittee and express support for the following funding levels in their bill. I believe these funding levels represent both compassionate and pragmatic foreign aid requests.

In the area of Global Health, please include $2.7 billion for the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and $650 million for bilateral efforts to control tuberculosis.

In the area of Economic Opportunity, please include $500 million for microfinance and microenterprise programs, with at least 50 percent benefiting the very poor as directed by the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act.

In the area of Education for All, please include $2 billion in basic education assistance and direct at least $1 billion of basic education funding to countries with approved Fast Track Initiative national education plans.

I would appreciate your prompt reply to my requests. Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

John Q. Public, 1234 Citizen Ave, Anytown, USA 98765