To positively impact the lives of Pennsylvania's children, citizens must communicate continuously and consistently with their elected officials. Communication can consist of phone calls, letters, e-mails, or personal visits.
Tips for phone calls
- Call state legislators in their Capitol or district offices. When the legislature is in session, state House and Senate members are usually in their Harrisburg offices Mondays through Wednesdays and in their district offices Thursdays and Fridays.
- Identify yourself. Tell the person answering the phone who you are, whom you represent, and your reason for calling.
- Ask to speak with your lawmaker directly. If he or she is not available, ask for a staff person with direct responsibility for your area of interest. A receptionist can share your legislators' schedule and meeting availability.
- Leave a message with the receptionist or aide, voicing your support or opposition to the House or Senate bill or policy issue in question.
- Be concise. State your reason for supporting or opposing the bill. Ask the lawmaker's position.
- Don't burn bridges. Be polite even if the lawmaker does not agree with you. You may need them again in the future.
- Follow up your phone call with a thank you note, briefly restating your conversation.
- Plan your visit carefully. Know what you want to say and how you are going to say it.
- Make an appointment.
- Be on time, but be patient if necessary. Remember, many people are waiting for the same opportunity to discuss their issues with lawmakers.
- Bring a reference sheet with quick bullet points about your issue that you can leave with the lawmaker.
- Find out the lawmaker's position on the issue and the reason for his or her position.
- Always be polite, even if the lawmaker does not share your position on the issue. You may need him again in the future.
- Follow up your meeting with a thank you note.
Writing Letters, Sending E-mails
Of all communications, e-mails, form letters, and petition signing are the least effective. They give an illusion of being disconnected to the issue. However, individually signed personal letters are viewed favorably.
- When writing letters, state your purpose in the first paragraph. If you are writing about a particular bill, identify it in the first paragraph.
- Explain the importance of your position.
- Identify yourself and your organizational affiliation.
- Keep the letter simple and concise. Address only one issue per letter. Keep your letter short, with only a few sentences in each paragraph and appropriate spacing between paragraphs.
- Whenever possible, personalize your story.
Advocacy During the Pandemic
- Your advocacy is needed now more than ever to positively impact children’s lives. Calls and emails are still a useful tool to inform and discuss with legislators.
- Legislative visits are essential to grassroots advocacy. Most legislators are currently only taking virtual meetings, so prepare accordingly.
- Make a virtual meeting appointment with the legislator.
- Test the meeting platform before the time of your legislative meeting.
- Be flexible, polite, and succinct.
- Send a thank you email after your meeting.
Addressing Correspondence and Greetings
- To a State Representative:
The Honorable (Representative's full name)
House P.O. Box (insert P.O. Box number)
Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120Dear Representative,
- To a State Senator:
The Honorable (Senator's full name)
Senate P.O. Box (insert P.O. Box number)
Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120Dear Senator,
- To the Governor:
The Honorable Tom Wolf
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120Dear Governor,
Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515Dear Congressman:
- U.S. Senate:
Honorable (Full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510Dear Senator: