Write to Your Representatives
Hand-written letters to your Member of Congress are the single most effective long distance way to advocate for peace. Congress tracks every hand written letter they receive, and these personal letters from constituents not only help educate policy makers about the issue, but they demonstrate that their constituents genuinely care about this issue. Here are tips for writing your letter:
Step 1 - Address the Letter Formally
Always use your Senator/Representative’s title and last name when writing them a letter. To Senators, address the letter “Dear Senator [Last Name]”. To Members of Congress, address the letter “Dear Representative [Last Name]”
Step 2 - Write an Introduction
The most important things your Representative needs to know is that who you are and what you are writing about – and that you are a constituent. When opening the letter, introduce yourself as a constituent, the topic you are writing on (including any specific legislation) and concisely write what specific action you are asking your Representative/Senator to take.
Step 3 - Support Your Position with Facts
Share two or three short facts, in bullet points, which support and explain why you are asking your Representative to take this specific action. Because you want to be as convincing as possible, try to connect their platform or past votes to this issue and your ask.
For example, if you are writing to a Democrat, you could mention the impacts of conflict on the environment or how the Iraq War created the security vacuum that allowed ISIL to flourish. If you are writing to a Republican, you should try other talking points: mention how the Pentagon has never been audited, and how unchecked defense spending is takes 54% of all US tax dollars and contributes significantly to the nation’s deficit. In short, tailor these facts to the Representative you are speaking with.
Step 4 - Make a Personal Connection
Why are you writing about this issue? Your Representative wants to know why you care about this issue, and why it matters not just to you, but to the community you are a part of – and to the community he/she is tasked with representing. This is the perfect opportunity to re-iterate the ask. Here’s an example:
The refugee community in my hometown has benefitted our community in so many ways: increasing cross cultural dialogue, driving the local economy and fostering a more diverse, inclusive atmosphere in our schools. I’m proud to be from a place that celebrates diversity, which is why I am asking you, as my Representative, to support refugee resettlement.
Step 5 - End the Letter Formally and With Thanks
At the end of your letter, you should re-iterate the specific call to action, or “ask”, that you made in the beginning and thank your Representative/Senator for taking the time to read your letter. Sign the letter “Sincerely” and put on separate lines your signed name, printed name and your address. The address is required so the Representative can know that this letter is coming from a constituent. As a constituent, your voice has the most weight – make it count!
If your Representative votes your way, be sure to write them a thank you letter to follow up!
Not sure who your Representatives are?
Click here to find out and to find their contact information.
To download a PDF version of these instructions – which you can print for meetings or events – click here: Download PDF.