Meet Your Member of Congress Locally During an Upcoming Recess
Special Notes for Organizations
If you’re representing an organization, we wanted to make sure you took note of this additional information:
- The more specific and localized data you can bring to the meeting, the better the meeting will go! If you have handouts about your program or healthy housing issues in your community, be sure to bring them along!
- Some organizations have concerns about their ability to lobby members of Congress. Remember, visiting with your member of Congress and educating them about your program is NOT lobbying if you do not mention specific legislation. Note that 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to lobby as a small portion of their activities. We’re happy to talk with you more about what you can and can’t do around lobbying restrictions if you have further questions.
Step One: Find Your Member of Congress
Step Two: Choose a Date
The best times for an event or meeting with your representative are during their congressional recesses, when the members of Congress return to their respective districts. Flexibility in the date to meet with your congressional office means higher chances of your representative attending the meeting. The upcoming dates for recess are as follows:
- July 29 – September 6, 2019
- September 30 – October 11, 2019
- November 25 – November 29, 2019
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, from October 20-26, 2019, is also a good time to contact your member of Congress, even if they’re in session.
Step Three: Invite Your Member of Congress
Each website should have an option for constituents to contact their representative. Look for pages called:
- Meeting request/schedule a meeting
- Contact me
Submit the request or invitation for the meeting and follow up by phone until the meeting is either explicitly confirmed or denied by the member of Congress or their staff.
- Use our sample letters to write your messages:
Step Four: Prepare
To prepare for your meeting:
- Review some talking points on healthy homes, lead poisoning, and asthma.
- Review our healthy housing agency fact sheets.
- For additional advice and information on meeting your member of Congress, view our past webinars on these subjects:
- Our Hill Day 2019 Training webinar discusses meeting structure, expectations for the meeting, and the ways for you to share why healthy housing matters to you.
- Our Healthy Housing Appropriations webinar covers the basics of appropriations, the justifications for our funding requests for healthy housing programs, and additional information about meeting with your representative
- Check out our sample agenda for your meeting. COMING SOON
Step Five: Attend the Meeting
Items to bring to the meeting:
- State fact sheets on healthy homes
- Charts of appropriations requests, if appropriate
- Personalized handouts about your community, if applicable.
Step Six: Follow Up
Remember to write or call the office and thank them for the meeting.
If you have pictures from an event, share them on social media and tag us or use #FindFixFund!
Frequently Asked Questions
Related to Step One: Find Your Member of Congress
Let us know if you have a question related to identifying your member of Congress that wasn’t already addressed above.
Related to Step Two: Pick a Date
- How much time should I allow for a meeting or event?
Meetings typically run for up to 30 minutes.
- How far should I schedule a meeting or event in advance?
It’s a good idea to reach out to schedule in-district meetings or events at least two weeks in advance.
- If I know I will be in DC during session, should I schedule a meeting there?
Yes, you can arrange meetings in the district as well; however, schedules in DC are more liable to change, especially during session. If you’re in town, feel free to reach out to us to plan a joint meeting.
- Should I invite my senator or representative?
Choose whom to contact based on the following factors: any previous relationship with the member, whether the member has a position on a relevant committee, and whether they have shown personal interest in your issue. Representatives are more likely to be able to attend an event.
Related to Step Three: Invite Your Member of Congress
- To whom should I address my message?
Address event invitations and meeting requests to the member of Congress.
- How should I follow up?
After the initial meeting request/invite, follow up by phone within the next few days to ensure receipt of message.
Related to Step Four: Prepare
- What constitutes lobbying? Who can lobby?
Remember: Visiting with your member of Congress and educating them absixout your program is NOT lobbying if you do not mention specific legislation. You’ll find more details about what does and does not constitute lobbying here. Note that 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to lobby.
- Whom should I bring to the meeting?
It’s best to bring both people who can talk about the technical aspects of your program or issue and people with a personal story to share.
- How do I pick which topics to talk about?
Talk about the issues that are most pressing for you and your district. Keep the focus narrow and to the point: how these programs have tangible consequences for your organization or community.
Related to Step Five: Attend the Meeting
- With whom can I expect to meet?
A meeting will likely be with the member’s staff. Remember, the staff person directly influences the policy position of their member.
- What questions should I ask during the meeting?
Ask about the member’s priorities with respect to healthy housing and your program. Ask what further information you can provide. Feel free to offer to follow-up with the correct information if you don’t know the answer to a question.
- How do I balance discussing facts and sharing my personal story?
Opening with a story or testimony is a great way to begin a meeting before moving into a discussion of the facts.
Related to Step Six: Follow Up
- How soon do I follow up?
Follow up within a day or two.
- What do I say in a follow-up message?
Thank the member or staff for the meeting, provide any further information about your issue, and encourage them to see you as a resource.
For more questions or to discuss your in-district meeting plans, contact Darcy Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.669.7340.
Five Things You Can Do:
- Meet Your Member of Congress Locally [url]
- Join the Find It, Fix It, Fund It Action Drive [url]
- Share Your Story [url]
- Encourage Others to Join the Coalition [url]
- Connect on Social Media [url]
NCHH and Coalition Campaign on Capitol Hill (May 6, 2016) [url] NCHH Takes to the Hill (March 25, 2015) [url]