How to Host a Legislative Visit
Personal visits are an extremely effective means of engaging your legislator(s) on issues of interest to your organization. Legislators want to meet and hear from their constituents, and learn about organizations that help their constituents. However, they are very busy people, so it is crucial to make the most of the time you have with your representatives and senators. The best time to schedule a legislative visit is during the summer and fall, when the legislature is not in session.
Before Your Visit
- Invite your legislator in advance by phone, and follow up with a letter confirming the date and time of the meeting. Expect no more than one hour for a typical site visit.
- Make it easy for your legislator to meet with you. Offer several possibilities and do your best to accommodate his/her schedule.
- Prepare a good fact sheet about your organization or legislative issue.
- Learn in advance where your legislator stands on your issue or the mission of your organization.
- Be prepared to explain how your organization affects voters in the legislator’s district.
- Dress appropriately for the visit – normal business attire is acceptable.
During Your Visit
- Be on time, prepared, and polite.
- Start by concisely introducing your organization. Include the following information:
- Who you are.
- What your organization does.
- What you need from your legislator.
- A reference to the fact sheet you have prepared.
- Don’t attack the legislator for his/her record on your issue(s), and don’t disparage government or politics.
- Don’t use technical terms or acronyms, unless you are certain that your legislator will understand them.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you’ll find out and get back to him/her – and follow through.
- Before s/he leaves, ask how you can be of help to him/her.
- Thank him/her for his/her time.
After Your Visit
- Follow up with a thank you note along with any information that you promised during the visit.
- Keep in touch during the legislative session. Contact your legislator on issues of interest to your organization, and remind him/her of his/her visit to your facility.
Excerpted from Mary Kay Hogan, Aponté and Hogan (Colorado Nonprofit Association)