Writing a Letter to Policy Makers

Highly Personal, Moderate Time Requirement

 

Letters provide much of the fuel that powers the legislative process. A stack of mail relating to a particular issue, especially if the letter is handwritten, is very influential with policy makers, so if possible, send letters regularly and in mass.  Many times, your elected official will write you back.

 

Before you write your letter

  • Think about your message. The more you personalize your letter, the better.
  • If you can use recent and relevant news stories that apply to your local community legislators are more likely to remember your letter.

 

As you write

  • Be clear that you are a constituent by including your return address in your letter. Most policy makers give priority to their constituents.
  • Hand write your letter, if possible. Hand written letters have the most impact with policy makers. If you are basing your message on a form letter, rewrite it or at least retype it.
  • Highlight local issues and personal stories to strengthen your position.  You can include copies of recent news articles or editorials that support your position.
  • If possible, acknowledge and thank the policy maker for supporting the issue in the past. Encourage the policy maker to continue or intensify her or his support.
  • Keep it short, one to one and a half pages at the most. Be sure that any additional information or articles you include are also brief.

 

Follow up

  • Place a phone call or make a visit with the policy maker to get a better understanding of his or her position on the issue.
  • Persuade friends, family members, or coworkers to write letters as well.  The more letters a policy maker reads on an issue, the more likely he or she will be influenced.
  • If you are writing the letter as part of a grassroots advocacy effort, be sure to report your letter to the organizers of the effort.
  • Continue to communicate with your policy maker through more letters, phone calls, and visits. Many times it is the quantity of the advocacy effort that will influence the policy maker.