Advocacy Letters to Legislators

WhyWrite 

  • Legislators care about re-election and about passing bills 
  • Letters provide a written record of constituents’ concerns and positions and communicate a seriousinterest in an issue
  • Remind them that they work for you, and you are paying attention to their actions

Structure of Letter/ Template

  • Begin with a concise and clear subject line; reference the bill number or issues about which you are writing
  • Introduce yourself, identify yourself as a constituent, describe relevant credentials or expertise, and explain your reason for writing.Mention any personal connection with the legislator, if you have supported their campaign, etc.  (2 – 3 sentences)
  • Make your case. Choose two or three of the strongest points to persuade the legislator to support your position. Include specific and concrete facts. Tell a personal story about how this legislation impacts your life or your friends/ family/ community members’ lives.  Connect the issue with the legislator’s experience or interests (1 -2 short paragraphs)
  • State your call to action. Are you asking to support legislation, make a public statement, change aspects of a bill? (1-2 sentences)
  • Thank the legislator for considering your views, restate your keymessage and end with specific questions about what actions they will take, toprompt a reply (1-2 sentences)
  • Include the date, your full name, address (including the zip code) email, telephone number

Best Practices/ Tips

  • Contact your legislators when the issue is in front of them; see sources below to follow legislation 
  • Read your legislator’s website to determine what issues are most important to them and tie your “ask” to their interests 
  • Find the “contact” information on your legislator’s website to determinehow to submit your letter (typically by email or through a web-based form)
  • Write to yourlegislators only when advocating for action on a particular piece of legislation; If you want to influence a legislator who doesn’t represent you could ask your legislator to act on your behalf 
  • There may be occasions when you should write to a committee chair or other politician who has significant power over the outcome of the legislation; be guided by the legislative alerts that you read from various advocacy groups (see below)
  • Spell the legislator’s name correctly, and use the appropriate salutation (Dear Representative, Senator)
  • Cover only one issue per letter, and limit your letterto one page or the equivalent
  • Be polite and respectful, request (not demand) action, avoid threats 
  • Emphasize personal stories to help them understand how the issues you care about connect to real people in their constituency 
  • Write from the heart; use emotionally charged words like disappointed, appalled, infuriated, disheartened, outraged, or delighted, pleased, hopeful, grateful, optimistic
  • Avoid jargon and acronyms in your writing
  • Use a politically neutral tone and don’t disparage opposing views; rather, make a case for your views
  • Run spell/grammar check before sending the letter
  • If you don’t get a response to your initial letterin a timely fashion, write again
  • Send a thank you note when they do something that you like
  • Ask someone else to read your letter; an extra pair of eyes may identify weaknesses or omissions in your letter

Additional Suggestions & Resources

  • Research AZ state bills:
  • Subscribe to AZ Legislative Alerts  https://www.uujaz.organd AZ Legislative Update http://www.cebv.us
  • ·       Sign up on your legislators’ websites and social media platforms to follow their actions and get insight into their positions
  • Set up a Google Alert to receive an email whenever your legislators are in the news
  • Sign up through NOW for the legislative alert that you will receive weekly throughout the session giving specific information and bills to take action on the following week.