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How to Lobby 101

Lobbying is easier than you think! At first lobbying can seem intimidating, but remember legislators have their jobs because of their constituents. They answer to YOU.

Lobbying is one of the best ways you can advocate for human rights and social and economic justice at a macro level. You have the power to make a change!

Step 1: The Proposed Legislation

  • Find a piece of legislation that speaks to you. Start by checking NASW‐MA’s legislative priorities on the legislative agenda:
    NASW-MA LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

  • Learn as much as you can about the proposed legislation. For example: the problem(s) it addresses, its impact, its benefits/risks, etc.

  • Make sure you know the basics about the bill when you meet with your legislator.

Step 2: Contact Your Legislator

  • Find out who your legislators are by going to www.wheredoivotema.com.

  • Make an appointment with them. Call their office or email their legislative aide.

  • Meeting face to face is the MOST effective way to lobby.

  • Meeting with their legislative aide can be just as good as meeting with the legislators. Aides are very important to the legislator and can be a great advocate for you.

Step 3: Prepare to Speak with Your Legislator

  • Research your legislator:

    • Know where they stand on the issue or their standings on previous similar issues.

    • Know what committees they are on or positions they hold.

    • Know if they are sponsoring the bill you are lobbying for. You don’t need to “convince” a legislator to support a bill when they are sponsoring it, but you may need to remind them of the details.

  • Many legislators have heard the facts about the issues.

  • Make sure you not only bring the facts, but a personal story to show the real world impact of the proposed legislation.

Step 4: Meet with Your Legislator

  • Be on time!

  • Introduce yourself:

    • Shake their hand.
    • Tell them where you are from.
    • Tell them the organization or association you affiliate most with.
  • Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.

  • Always be polite and honest during your meeting.

Step 5: The Talk

If You Lobby Solo...

  • Be brief and to the point.

  • Have a list of talking points, don’t read directly from it.

  • Use a personal story to make your stance human and to show the real world impact of the legislation.

  • Be prepared to answer questions. If you don’t know the answer don’t worry! They are not expecting you to know everything. If you don’t know, tell them you’ll get back to them and make sure you do.

If You Lobby in a Group...

  • Each person should have a specific role when you meet with your legislator:

    • One person to tell the facts.
    • One to tell the personal story.
    • One to remember key points raised for follow up.
    • One to do the “ask” (see Step 6).
  • People can have multiple roles, but it is important for everyone to know their role before meeting with your legislator.

Step 6: The ASK

  • This could be the MOST important step.

  • ASK your legislator if you have their vote on the legislation you are advocating for.

    • Whether they say yes or no, thank them for their time.

    • If they say THEY ARE UNSURE, ask what other information you can provide for them. Legislators who are unsure can be swayed. You can help do that by providing them with more information.

    • Be prepared that they might say no and don’t take it personally. It is all part of the process and they can’t always say yes. Thank them for being direct and honest with you.

Step 7: Follow up

  • If you told your legislator you would get back to them on something MAKE SURE YOU DO!

  • Send a thank you note within a week. This ensures that:

    • They know you are serious about your issue.

    • They will be more likely to remember you in the future.

Step 8: Do it Again!

  • Now that you have lobbied, you now know how to do it and your legislator now knows who you are... SO DO IT AGAIN!!!

  • Calling and emailing are other ways to lobby. If you don’t make it the State House don’t let that stop you. Pick up the phone and make the call!

  • Lobbying is important to the legislative process and can be very empowering.

  • Legislators need to know what issues are important to their constituents and YOU are the perfect one to let them know!

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2/1/2013

National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter
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