One question that comes up often when it comes to contacting Congress is, can I just write a letter? The simple answer is yes – a handwritten note sent to an office via letter or postcard has the same impact as an email or phone call. Someone in the office looks at every piece of mail, records the message, and shares it with the member of Congress. There are some positives and negatives to sending your message the old-fashioned way:
- Mail can take a long time. In addition to the time for delivery, there is the time for sorting and security. Postcards can help speed up the security process.
- Mail can be misdirected or lost – it may not end up where you intended.
- If your message is urgent or about a time-sensitive matter, such as a bill, the member of Congress may not receive your message in time.
- Letters give you a chance to do something different – things you cannot do over the phone or with an email form. You can include a newspaper or magazine article that made you think. If you have a personal story that inspires your advocacy you can share photos, such as from a trip you took or of a family you know. Maybe your child wants to join you in speaking out or sharing concerns by drawing a picture that you can include. One envelope can pack a lot!
- You can share letters, together. If you are planning to send something to your member of Congress use it as an opportunity to engage your church, your book group, neighbors, all of the people you have conversations with and who say, I wish there was something I could do… Put all of the letters or postcards in an envelope together and send them at once. A stack of messages, no matter how big or small, will have an impact on whoever opens the envelope.
- Letters and postcards don’t have to be mailed – think about doing a hand delivery. Often members of Congress have multiple offices in their state and there is a high likelihood one is near you. During business hours you can stop by and leave them with the staffer at the front desk. You can even take this as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the local staff. Office information can be found under the contact section of the member’s website.
To find out where to send a letter or postcard to in D.C., or to find a local office where you can do a pick-up, start by visiting senate.gov or house.gov. Enter your zip code in the top right corner to find your senators or representative, and then from there it will link to their website. Look under the contact section for the information you need!
This post is a part of our Talking to Congress series where we are sharing how to use emails, phone calls, and more in the most effective ways. If you would like to see a topic covered, or if you have any questions, leave a comment below!
Photo: In Zambia, Miriam writes in her local language. © 2017 World Vision/ photo by Gloria Das