Why Calling Works
Calling members of Congress is the most effective way to have your voice heard. As with letters, legislative staff track the number of calls they receive on various topics. Just a couple phone calls over a short period of time can bring an issue to the attention of your legislator and raise his or her awareness of how strongly their constituents feel about a current issue. The sooner your reach out, the more likely it is that your voice will influence their position.
- Choose your words wisely. You’ll be speaking to an aide. In order for them to tally your opinion correctly, you will need to clearly make your point.
- Be respectful. The staffers that answer the phone are not looking to challenge your opinion, and you should treat them with the same respect you expect from them, regardless of which party they work for.
- Add your own words. The provided script is useful, but you should make the phone call as personal as possible. Representatives and staffers want to hear your individual story and how the issue impacts you on a personal level.
- Call congressional offices directly or through the switchboard. If you do not have the direct number, you can reach U.S. representatives by calling 202-225-3121, and U.S. senators by calling 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you to the individual office. If you do not know the names of your members of Congress or want the direct line to their office, you can look up your members here: http://whoismyrepresentative.com/
- Let them know that you are a constituent. Be sure to say the city and state you are from.Elected officials are most interested in your opinions if you are their constituent.
- Know your facts. Have the basic information about your topic in front of you when you call. You should be able to specifically describe the topic you are calling about and what you think your legislator should do.
- Note your expertise. If you have professional experience with the issue you are calling about, be sure to mention it. This will establish your credibility on the issue and may even prompt the aide to ask you for some guidance on the issue.
- Be brief. Aides receive a high volume of phone calls every day, so keep your call short and to the point.
- Be timely. Timeliness is especially important when you are phoning. If the vote on your issue is imminent, the aide is much more likely to pay attention to what you say.
- Consider calling the local office. Calling the office located in your district or state, rather than the Washington, D.C., office, can sometimes be more effective. If you are calling about an imminent vote or other timely issues, always call the Washington office. If you are calling about an issue that generally affects your district or community, calling the local office can be a good way to make them aware of an issue.
- Let us know how it went. Be sure to let us know the results of your call. The more details you can provide us with the better. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telephone sample script:
“Hello, my name is [insert your name] and I am your constituent from [insert city and state].I am calling to ask [senator or representative’s name] to support adult literacy programs nationwide. The Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts and program eliminations for fiscal year 2018 will have a negative impact on many local literacy programs and their students by substantially reducing the resources necessary to provide learning materials and tutoring. Investing in adult education and basic skills programs significantly improves the employability and earnings of American adults, and our country’s economic and social well-being. In order to continue solving socioeconomic problems, like workforce development and poverty relief, we need to build a more literate population.
Please vote ‘No’ on cutting funds for adult education [or insert specific program]. Thank you for your time and for considering my request for your support.”