How To Follow Up

with your Member of Congress

Posted by OBS Team on May 3rd, 2014

You have probably noticed at the end of most of our Advocacy Support materials is a reminder to always setup a followup action. Forgetting to followup has been cited as one of the biggest reasons Members of Congress don't follow through with what you asked them to do. Followup sends a clear message that you aren't going away, but more importantly it keeps Sudan on the agenda. Members of Congress are busy people, and following up ensures that Sudan doesn't fall through the cracks. 

Whether you are new to advocacy or a veteran just looking for some extra tips, you have come to the right place to learn more about how to followup!

Following Up Is The Easiest & Best Thing You Can Do

Whether you scheduled a followup action or not, you should pursue it with as much enthusiasm and energy as you did when you wrote your letter, called, or petitioned. With your initial actions complete, now is not the time to slow down. If anything, it's time to kick things into high gear. 

Following up is going to be unique to each situation, so we've gathered some tips from our top grassroots activists on how to best go about it:

1. Thank & Meet The Staffer In The Middle

Odds are you have not actually spoken directly to your Member of Congress, but one of his or her's staff members instead. By asking your member of Congress to take an action on Sudan, you've given the staff member a job to do: take your concerns and requests to their boss. 

Immediately following your first communication with the staffer, send them a followup email or handwritten note thanking them for their time. If you didn't work out a date and time to followup with them about your requests, mention in the note when and how you will be following up. It's usually polite to wait at least a week before reaching back out.

2. Be Consistent

Remember, Congressional offices are busy places and you don't want to be a pest, but you do want to be consistent. If after your initial followup the Member of Congress has taken no action, schedule a time once a week to call or email the staffer for an update. If there is any movement by the Member of Congress, they will most likely let you know. 

One of the best ways to remain consistent is to set a weekly reminder to followup. Add it to your phone calendar with a message alert or write it in your planner.

3. Build A Relationship Through Action

One of the reasons you want to be consistent is to build a relationship for future requests. Having someone on your side in a Congressional office can be a huge benefit to you in the future. This takes time of course, but it is an investment worth making. Several of our top activists continue to be so successful with such little effort because they have a voice in their Member of Congress' office.

This means that you also need to go beyond just requesting things from your Member of Congress. Getting them to take action may include several followups, so this is a perfect opportunity to offer your assistance with sending them information, recent articles on Sudan, and other items that may help them reach a decision more quickly. Try sending information like this once a month.

4. Bring In Backup

If you have followed up a few times and the Member of Congress still has not taken the requested action, it may be time to add more voices. Point your friends and family to the advocacy campaign you are participating in and ask them to write a letter or call. Just be sure that your Member of Congress is also theirs. Followup with these individuals to make sure they take the action and then encourage them to followup with you as well.

5. Never Hesitate To Ask For Help

Occasionally our grassroots activists do everything by the book and the Member of Congress doesn't budge. We know how incredibly frustrating this can be, but that doesn't mean it's time to throw in the towel. If you feel like you're not getting anywhere despite following up several times or have stopped hearing back from your Congressional office, we encourage you to reach out to us. Contact Us »

We're more than happy to help you troubleshoot and come up with next steps!

Tags: advocacy, South Sudan, Sudan

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