An essential part of any movement is the effort to create new legislation. Before most elected officials will introduce animal friendly legislaton, they must be convinced there is sufficient public support. The best way to convince legislators that their constituents are strongly in favor of reform, is to FIRST convince them. Grassroots lobbying is one of the most effective methods for helping animals. Public officials, especially elected officials, do not pay attention to correspondence they receive on issues.
Here are some tips for you to follow when writing your letters, faxes and e-mails:
Know The Issues: Before contacting legislators, make sure you know what your talking about!
Know The Legislative Process: Contact the City Council in the area of your concern for info on enacting legislation.
Decide Specifically What Your Will Campaign For: Set yourself a goal on your campaign of choice e.g. captive animal issues etc.
Tragic Events Can Be A Catalyst For Change: Say for instance a whale or dolphin death at an aquarium - The Makah whalers killing a Gray Whale - that will bring attention to your cause and may help folks to sympathize and understand the problems at hand
Typically, writing is more effective than calling, but you can often cover more ground and collect more information by calling around first.
When you're writing a letter, always give your name and address and ask for a reply.
If you call, consider following up with a letter or fax. (Sometimes sending a fax asking the decision maker for a return call is more effective than leaving a message.)
Be concise, informed, and as polite as you can.
Always relate exactly what you want the decision maker to do.
Talk about what you know -- humanize your message. Let experts cite statistics. You'll make more impact by talking about your concerns and your feelings.
Be generous with praise, as well as criticism. A thank you for a job well done, if possible, may get your letter passed around a bit more.
Be creative. Anything out of the ordinary can draw attention to your message.
Don't expect big results. Usually, the bigger the issue, the longer it takes to make gains.
Share your experiences with friends. Encourage them to write, too. You may encourage someone to get involved for the first time.
- Get Your Point Across! -
Write Your Own Letter: Many organizations and Web sites may provide sample letters on issues. It is always best to write your own letter (you can use the sample letters to guide you), rather than simply signing a pre-written one. But if it makes the difference between a letter getting sent or not, then by all means, send a pre-writen letter!
- Some Helpful Links -
Strive To Be Moderate: If you portray yourself as an "extremist" in your letter, you won't have much credibility.
Keep Your Emotions In Check: Many of the issues you will be writing about will be highly-charged and emotional, but you still have to present a clear, level-headed argument. Drawing on emotions will make your letter less persuasive than one which makes a factual argument.
Mention The Impact On People: Any time you can mention the impact on people, do it. It is unfortunate, but elected officials are often only concerned with people, since they are the ones who vote.
Include Your Identity: Be sure to include your full name and address (and often your phone number). If you fail to include this information, or send your message anonymously, your letter/email WILL be ignored.
Use Your Credentials: If you have any professional, educational or volunteer credentials that make you an expert on the issue, be sure to put it in your letter!
Use Facts And Statistics: Have there been academic studies of the issue? Government statistics? Include them (with citation) to bolster your argument. You can even include the supporting document with your letter.
Use Personal Experience: But make sure that it is relevant.
Keep Your Letter Brief And To The Point: Try to limit it to one typed page if at all possible. Always restrict yourself to one issue or piece of legislation per letter.
State What Actions You Expect To Be Taken: Close your letter by repeating what actions you expect to be taken. Also request that your receive a reply.
The Electronic Activist- An e-mail address directory of Congress people, state government and media.