How To Write A Personal Letter

to your member of Congress

Posted by OBS Team on February 1st, 2014

After you've reviewed our current advocacy campaign you will be participating in, one of the first things you will want to do is write your member of Congress a letter or email. Whether you are new to advocacy or a veteran just looking for some extra tips, you have come to the right place!

The 4 Components That Should Be In Your Letter

We asked some of our top grassroots activists what made their advocacy efforts easier for them. The common thread in all of their stories was that their personal letters and emails they sent to their member of Congress were carefully written with 4 components in mind. Here they are:

1. Know Who You're Writing To

You don't need to know everything about your member of Congress before reaching out to them, but you do need to know who they are. You can enter your address here to bring up a list of your members of Congress. Once you know who you will be writing to, check out their website to learn a little about them. Do they already have an opinion on Sudan? War? Human rights?

2. Tell A Compelling Story

Storytelling is not only an indispensable part of our work as a nonprofit, it is also how our top activists captivate Congressional offices. Members of Congress and their staff don't just want to hear about what you're advocating for, they also want to know why you care. This means that a moving story makes a meaningful connection. With this in mind, here are some content ideas for your letters and emails:

  • Include your personal story within our movement. Why do you care about Sudan?
  • Write about an individual in one of our films or your personal connection with an individual from Sudan.
  • The best stories are succinct and to the point. Time is money. Tell the story of your choice, but don't drag it out. 

3. Convey A Sense of Urgency

Urgency is a key component of just about everything we do. We work in a warzone and our movement is in a race against time. This is an emergency, so don't be afraid to be clear about that. Here's some great ways to help get that point across without scaring people away:

  • Be positive. Yes, the situation in Sudan is bad. Yes, you are taking action because you have been inspired to help. But the most important thing here is we have a window of opportunity to help. Now is the time to do it. 
  • Know that what you are doing is important. Lives are literally on the line. You (not Operation Broken Silence) need your Member of Congress to take action. They have the opportunity and power to make an impact on Sudan policy.

4. Have A Clear Ask

You're writing for a reason after all. Be clear about what you want your Member of Congress to do, just be sure that you're being respectful. Remember, you are asking for their help and leadership. You are offering them an opportunity to have a big impact on policy decisions. Be clear, concise, and ask them to do the specific action we are currently advocating for. 

Tags: advocacy, Sudan, South Sudan,

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