Writing to Your Member of Congress
If you are not able to meet with your Senators and Representative, nor their staff, nor make a call to their Congressional offices, write them a letter. Legislators rely on letters to find out what constituents and advocacy organizations are thinking. Letters can play an important role in establishing a relationship with a legislator, explaining an organization’s policy position, and eliciting a response from the Member of Congress.
The following are guidelines for effective letter writing, but please feel free to use the letter that the EJC has provided and add your own local or state experiences if you’d like.
- Spell the legislator's name correctly. If you know the legislator at all, use her or his first name; your letter will receive more attention.
- The address for senators and representatives are, respectively:
The Honorable (insert senator's name)
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable (insert representative's name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
- For a salutation, use “Dear Representative (last name)” or “Dear Senator (last name).”
- Use your own words. Personal letters (not postcards) are most effective.
• Use personal experience or a concrete example from the member’s state or district to make your case.
- Clearly state the topic you are writing about, and your position on it, in the opening sentences. “I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor the Elder Justice Act, S. 795 and H.R. 2006.”
- Refer to bills by name and number.
- Limit the number of topics you address in your letter. You can always write another letter to discuss additional issues.
- Raise questions. A well-formulated question can get a personal response.
- Keep it short.
- Be polite, positive, and constructive. Don’t plead, and never threaten.
- Be timely. Now is the time to get more EJA co-sponsorships.
- Write to thank your legislators when they take action you agree with. If a staff member is particularly helpful, thank him or her, too – or mention your gratitude in your letter to your legislator.