Here are some ways to connect with and build your relationship with Members of Congress:
Set up an introductory meeting to educate the Congressional office about your nonprofit, the community you serve, and the resources you have to offer them. End by inviting the Member to learn more by coming to an event or volunteering.
Build a relationship with the staff, both in the district and DC office. Staff often have more in-depth knowledge on the issues and make recommendations to the Member for or against policy.
Start with asking for broad support and build trust before you ask for heavier lifts.
Listen. What resources could you offer? Nonprofits are experts in their area of specialty, connected to potential voters, and are community institutions with credibility, trust, and visibility.
Learn what types of statistics, stories, and information the Congressional office will listen to and start sending this information as a way to check in with the staff or Member of Congress. Bring constituents to share personal stories of how policy will affect their lives.
Ask your policymaker to participate in an event, volunteer with your organization, or observe your programming to learn more about the issue area. While they have very busy schedules, they also appreciate opportunities to learn from the experts (you!), connect with constituents, and show their activities in the district through pictures or video.
Congress usually holds votes, committee meetings, and other business in DC from Tuesday-Thursday. At the beginning and end of the weeks, your Member of Congress meets with constituents, tours local businesses, holds fundraisers, interfaces with the media, and more to connect with the community. Congress also schedules week-long “recess” every few months, and a month-long August recess to conduct business in-district. Take advantage of these times to schedule in-person meetings or events with your Member.
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Maintain relationships even when it might not seem like you need to—try to set up consistency in the relationship and check-in once a month. Be sure to thank and praise them for supportive votes or statements!