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How to Lobby

Tips for advocating to legislators and legislative staff.

We are excited to have you involved and appreciate your support in advocating to Congress on our issues! Below, please find some quick and helpful tips to guide you through your visits.

ACCURACY: Before you go to your legislative appointment, take some time to think about why you care about the issues. Speak from your own experience and if you are asked a question answer to the best of your ability—it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but let me find out.” UUSC staff can help you after your visit and work with you to follow up or do so on your behalf.

BREVITY: Appointments typically last 15-30 minutes. Members and legislative staff appreciate it when messages and requests are simple and straightforward. Work with your delegation to prepare your main message and request, and make sure everyone who wants to speak has time to share.

COURTESY: Don’t forget to thank the member and their staff for their time and attention.

DOs & DON’Ts: Here is a handy list of tips and things to keep in mind for when lobbying legislative offices.

DO…

DON’T…

  • Be professional, transparent, and genuine.
  • Remember that the U.S. Congress keeps a conservative dress code, and many staff will be in business or business casual clothing.
  • Try to anticipate if they agree or disagree with your position and plan your response.
  • Silence electronic devices
  • Be a good listener.
  • Relax! Members of Congress and their staff are regular people too.
  • Be patient and flexible. Staff and members may run late or change schedule on short notice.
  • Make the issue relevant and personal to the staffer or legislator by using your own story and passion.
  • Connect the larger issue back to the needs of your state and district.
  • Send a thank you note and work with UUSC staff on any specific follow up promised.
  • Be late
  • Feel like you have to know everything. Saying “I don’t know” is okay!
  • Intentionally mislead. Make sure to speak honestly about what you believe.
  • Forget to do your homework.
  • Be partisan.
  • Shy away from talking about your values as a UU and UUSC supporter.
  • Monopolize the conversation. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak and share information.
  • Forget to explicitly make the “ask.” Use a direct question like, “Can we count on you to support X bill?”
  • Mention their campaign or donations—focus on the issues at hand.
  • Forget to thank them for their time, and when possible, their past support of our issues.
  • Let this be the last time you interact—continue to build on this relationship!

Download a PDF version of “ABCDs of Lobbying: A quick primer on how to lobby Congress in person.