Sometimes when you attempt to meet with a member of Congress or their staff, you may have trouble getting on their schedule. Here are some tips for securing a meeting from our Advocacy Teams staff.
Not on a team yet? Click here to start or join an Advocacy Team.
Reasons Offices May Not Respond to Your Lobby Visit Request
- The congressional office may be going through a very busy time. They might not have the capacity to respond at the moment. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to meet with you.
- The meeting request may be unclear. Use the sample meeting request in the Advocacy Teams Training Workbook as a template.
- It’s possible the issue you’re advocating for is not a top priority for the office now. Finding a way to lobby on a related topic or identifying an intersection to an issue that is a top priority for the office can help you secure a meeting.
Strategies for success
- For new Advocacy Teams:
- First, request a meeting through the member’s website.
- If you haven’t gotten a response in two days, call the office to follow up.
- If you still don’t have a response two days after that, email the office’s scheduler.
- If that doesn’t work, email a specific staff member.
- Note: Wait for several days or a week between each step.
- For existing teams with an established relationship with the office:
- Email the staffer you have a relationship with (either in a district office or Washington, D.C.)
- If you don’t receive a response, call the office.
- If there is still no response, email the scheduler.
- Note: Wait several days or up to a week between each step
- Invite others to join your lobby visits. Think about whom you can invite who will enlarge your coalition. Are there people who represent another constituency who could join?
- Tie the meeting request to something larger. Is there an anniversary or event in the news? This creates more pressure on the office to respond.
- Reach out to other staff members. If you’re on an Advocacy Team, invite your congressional liaison to start by reaching out to the staff they know and then contact other staff. Start with the legislative assistant and work up to the legislative director.
- Attend a town hall to ask a question at a live event. These public forums can be a great place to make your voice heard and meet lawmakers. An Advocacy Team member from Iowa met her congresswoman at a town hall and was able to ask her a question about her position on our issue campaign.
- Stop by the district office. Two Advocacy Team members stopped by the district office of their congressman and ended up with an impromptu lobby visit with the congressman himself!
- Speak with a neighboring Advocacy Team. Ask advocates near you if they have a contact in the office you are trying to reach. Can you connect through them?
- Ask FCNL staff for assistance. After significant effort, you can ask if FCNL staff have relationships that could help your team land a lobby visit.
Things to Remember
Persistence is key. Remain optimistic. Remember that each step is a success, not just getting the lobby visit. Celebrate everything you try!
If you’re just not getting a response, try publishing a positive letter to the editor in your local paper. Name the Member of Congress in your letter. Once your letter is published, reach out to the office, share your letter, and ask for an update on the meeting request.