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Postcard Advocacy

A guide to learn about how and why to write to your congresspeople.

Words Have Power

Postcard to Congress Example

 

Writing a letter to Congress is one of the easiest ways to let your voice be heard by your political representatives both in the Senate & The House. 

Being politically involved can sometimes feel overwhelming and time consuming, but writing a letter to congress doesn’t need to take an hour. Find an issue on which you want to have your voice heard, select the representatives you’d like to reach out to, and write your message.

Tips for Writing to Congress

1) Keep it Local

Senators want to hear from the people they serve. They represent the folks who elected them. Whether you voted for your senators or not, you are part of their constituency. Send letters and postcards only to the senators from your state. You can personalize your message to identify yourself as a resident of the state.

2) Look Up Your Senator’s Address

Each state has two senators. You can go to Senate.gov and navigate to the Senator’s tab.

The page lists email, phone number, and links to the website. The mailing address will be for their Washington D.C. office. 

To find your representative, go to House.gov. Find “Find Your Representative” at the top of the page and enter your zip code. Sometimes you will need to enter your full address to determine your Congressional district.

The representative’s official website should have all the contact information you need for writing a letter to a senator

3) Keep It Simple and Clear
Your letter will be most effective if you address a single topic.

Follow this simple, three-part format for best results:

State Your Purpose
State from the beginning who you are and what issue you are writing about. The goal is to identify yourself as a constituent, or resident of their state and district. If you voted or donated to their campaign, indicate that as well. If you would like to receive a response, also include your full name and address.

Provide Adequate Detail
State the issue. If you are writing about one bill in particular, be sure to name the full title and title number. Keep your tone professional and resist the impulse to be emotional. Whenever appropriate, include evidence or other examples to back up your suggestions.

Identifying Pertinent Legislation
Your senators have full plates when it comes to legislation. Be sure you identify which bill or another piece of legislation you are writing about. You should provide the official number, so they know which one you are referencing.

This also establishes a bit of credibility on your part for a) knowing your subject and b) being courteous enough to provide the recipient with the needed information.

When writing a letter to a senator, present your information using these identifiers:

House Bills: “H.R._____”
House Resolutions: “H.RES._____”

House Joint Resolutions: “H.J.RES._____”

Senate Bills: “S._____”

Senate Resolutions: “S.RES._____”

Senate Joint Resolutions: “S.J.RES._____”

Request Action
End your letter by requesting the action you want your senator to take. That may be a vote in favor or against a piece of legislation. Or, it may be a change in policy, as long as you are specific in your request.

4) Addressing Members of Congress
Postcards to your senator should be formal. Below are the proper headers to you use when writing a letter to a senator

For your senators

The Honorable (full name)
(room #) (name) Senate Office Building

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (last name):

For your representatives

The Honorable (full name)
(room #) (name) House Office Building

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name):

5) Sign Your Name and Address

Be sure to sign your full name! Many representatives prioritize comments from their constituents. An unsigned letter does not tally a vote. You should also include your street address, including zip code. Many legislative offices screen for address information identifying the sender as a constituent. Mail that appear to come from outside the district are unlikely to be read.‚Äč

What Happens Next?

Your postcard will be tallied by your congress person's staff. It may not be read by the congress person, but it is counted chalk board showing hash marks for "For" and "Against"and your voice is heard. If you're writing in support or opposition to a specific bill, the number of postcards or calls a senator or representative gets on that topic may influence their vote. 

Senators want to hear from the people they serve. They represent the folks who elected them. Whether you voted for your senators or not, you are part of their constituency. Send letters and postcards only to the senators from your state. You can personalize your message to identify yourself as a resident of the state.