How to have an effective meeting with your legislator(s)
- Have a goal and set an agenda! Meetings are more effective if you have a specific request. Make sure you have someone who's job is to make the "ask" (see ideas here) and get a solid yes or no answer from the legislator or staffer.
- Invite people to attend the meeting from your chapter and from the community. Your visit can be more effective if you include those who have a personal story to share, whether they or their families had to wait in line for treatment, or they traveled to Africa to volunteer with a clinic. If you don’t know someone who can talk about accessing HIV medication in developing countries, reach out to immigrant communities in your area.
- Bring a leave-behind kit with you. Include fact sheets, recent newspaper articles, and anything else you think is useful. It should be 2-4 pages worth of material, plus a page with the contact information for everyone from the group. We have some good stuff on our Resources page for this.
- Take a picture with your group and staffer! It’s nice to have a memory and every time you look at it you’ll remember how to do step 5.
- Follow up with them. Thank them via email the next day. Within a week, write or call to make sure they are on task for doing what they promised. For instance, if you asked them to call the White House or send a letter, ask them if they have done it yet. Ask to see a copy of the letter and say you want to write an article in your school newspaper praising the Legislator. Keep asking until you get a positive answer. This step is supremely important. If you do not follow up with them, they will think they are off the hook.
- Report your visit to Amirah and send the picture, so she can post it on the SGAC website.
Now that you know how to hold an effective legislative visit, click here to see a sample agenda for your visit.
Here are some ideas for your ask:
What you want your legislator to do varies depending on the time of year. Email Amirah if you have questions.
- Dec-Feb - You want them to call the White House or write a letter to the President and ask him to increase funding for global AIDS.
- March - You want them to include increased funding for global AIDS in their "wish list" that they send to the Appropriations Committee.
- April-July - You want them to work with the Appropriations Committee to ensure that global AIDS funding is increased in the next year.
- Aug - Nov - You want them to introduce an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to increase funding for global AIDS.
Some additional asks, if they've done the above, are to:
- write an op-ed in the local paper about funding for global AIDS
- hold a town hall with your chapter on global AIDS
- call another member of the Congressional delegation from your state and ask them to also publicly support increased funding for global AIDS