Meeting in-person with your members of Congress or their staff is one of the most effective ways to communicate your concerns and lobby for change. District offices are open for in-person meetings and FCNL is excited to support your advocacy through in-district visits.
If you have a new member of Congress, we recommend visiting this resource outlining additional steps you could take in relationship-building.
Make your voice heard by following these simple steps:
1. Call your senator or representative’s district office
To find your nearest district office, visit your representative or senator’s website. The website should indicate where each district office is located, and what number you should call to contact them. Once you have identified an office to visit, give them a call. Here is what you can say:
“Hi, my name is______, and I’m with a group of constituents looking to schedule a meeting with Representative/Senator________ in the coming weeks. Can you tell me what the best way to go about scheduling a meeting is?”
2. Submit your visit request
There are two ways you will be asked to submit a visit request:
- Submitting via an online form: Some offices enforce strict protocol when dealing with online request forms. Be sure to follow all instructions when submitting this form.
- Sending emails: If there is no online form to fill out, you should email the scheduler. You can find who your member’s scheduler is by visiting this tool.
Whether you are submitting a form, or sending an email, there is key information that you must include when contacting your member’s office. You should provide:
- Your full name (and those of others joining you)
- Where you live in the district or state
- A brief description of the issue that you wish to discuss. If there is a specific bill that you would like to address, include the name or number of that piece of legislation.
Make your request stronger by including this information if you are able:
- What roles you and your group play in your community. Are you coming with your faith or civic group? Are you involved in other advocacy efforts at home?
- Briefly say who you are and where you are coming from.
- If you or your group has met with the member or their staff before, reference who you met with and when.
3. Be patient, persistent, and polite
Once you have submitted your request, you will often hear back from your member’s office in one to seven days. If you haven’t heard back after one week, reach out again by phone or email. Keep your follow-up message brief: state that you sent a request and that you look forward to hearing back from them! Your persistence is a key part of this process. It usually takes several email or phone exchangesbefore the meeting is officially confirmed. Sometimes, the office will ask you to wait until a future date to request a visit. Abide by this request. Congressional schedules have many moving pieces, so your patience is incredibly important – and staff will remember that
4. Confirm whether the visit is with the member or their staff.
Once you hear back from the scheduler, they will offer you a meeting with the member of congress or their staff. If they offer you an opportunity to meet with a staffer, take it! In-district staffers are some of the most important people in congressional offices – District Directors, for example, are often the most trusted and serve the legislator the longest. They are responsible for communicating constituent concerns to the member of congress, so it is important that you form a strong relationship with them.
If you will be discussing a complicated issue or have already talked to district staff about this issue, you might consider having a staffer in the DC office join the meeting over the phone or teleconference so that all your questions may be answered.
5. Confirm your meeting
Even after you schedule your meeting, it is important to stay in touch with the office. A few days before your visit, send a confirmation email and include a finalized list of all the people who will be joining the meeting.
Setting up an in-district lobby visit can be quite complicated—your patience and persistence are essential throughout this process. Should you have any questions, please email FCNL’s advocacy staff at Lobby@fcnl.org. We wish you the best of luck as you prepare to meet in person with your member of Congress!