Tips for Organizing a Lobby Visit

In-person meetings with your members of Congress and their staff are one of the most influential forms of advocacy, especially if it is part of a long-term effort to cultivate a relationship with your elected officials. These meeting can take place both in Washington, DC and in your home state or district. Members of Congress spend several weeks a year in their home districts just for the opportunity to meet with people like you, so don’t pass up the opportunity!

Here are some tips on how to make the most of meetings with your members of Congress.

  • Look into when your members of Congress are going to be in Washington or in your state and district. To find out the congressional schedule check the House calendar. Representatives will be working in your district when the calendar denotes a constituent work week. You can find out when your Senators will be in your state by checking the Senate Legislative Schedule and looking for weeks that are state work periods.
  • Assemble your team. A small group of three to five people who represent the diversity of your community is often the most effective means to getting an appointment and having an effective meeting with you legislator. The members of your group should be interested and passionate about working Israeli-Palestinian peace and an end to the conflict in the Holy Land. Also keep in mind that the people in your group can demonstrate that there is broad support for the position that you’re advocating. Look to all the diverse Christian communities that you’re engaged with through CMEP and beyond to recruit participants. If you want to organize a meeting as a CMEP group contact CMEP for help regarding taking points and recruiting diverse people.
  • Preparing for your meeting. It’s important to know your legislator’s voting record, especially on the Israeli-Palestinian issue before going into the meeting so do your research ahead of time. It’s also important to know what committees he or she serves on and if they have any publicly stated positions on issues surrounding the Holy Land. Your legislator’s website is a good place to start looking for this information. There are also lots of independent sources that monitor the way that legislator’s vote. One good resource is Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan project that reports on elected officials at every level including biographical information, voting records and interest group ratings, among other pieces of very useful information. THOMAS, the Library of Congress’s database can also be useful, especially if you are looking for specific bills or floor votes.
  • Establishing a message, goal and plan for your meeting. Make sure that the each member of the group is clear on the message and goal of your meeting with your legislator and knows what the plan is for the meeting. Meetings organized through CMEP will have CMEP talking points that are timely, effective and in concert with CMEP’s positions. Your message should focus on a few key talking points that everyone in the group sticks to.The most effective advocacy meetings call for a specific action, but those actions can range well beyond a vote for or against pending legislation. For example, you can call on your legislator to sponsor or co-sponsor a bill, insert and article into the Congressional Record, or raise a concern that is important to those in your group and your community. While it’s important that everyone in the group stick to the agreed upon talking points, personal anecdotes and stories about how and why peace in the Holy Land is important to you and those in your community can be incredibly powerful. Make sure to discuss ahead of time who will speak to this personal component and the specific messages or asks during the meeting.
  • Following up. After the meeting, the members of your group should take the time to debrief and talk through what you heard from your legislator and how the meeting went. Taking notes in this debriefing can be a useful tool in making sure that everyone is aware of what they need to do in follow up and can be a great resource to refer back to in future meetings with your members of Congress. One person from the group should send a thank you letter to the member and any staff who were also in the meeting. Your thank you note should reiterate the points that you discussed in the meeting, as well as including any additional information that you said that you would send along or that you think would be useful. Another person should let CMEP staff know about the meeting and how it went. There is a form to help you do this which you can either fill out and submit online, or download the paper version below. In addition to helping you get the resources you need to have an effective meeting, we are eager to help emphasize your message through meetings with congressional staff here in Washington.

CMEP staff can assist you in finding any additional information that you might need. 

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