- Use the correct address and salutation.
For example, address to The Honorable (foll name), with salutation of Dear Mayor/Judge/Commissioner/Governor/Senator (last name). Be sure to include your return address and contact information on the letter, as well as the envelope.
- Use your own words and stationery.
Decision makers feel that personal letters, rather than form letters, show greater personal commitment on the part of the writer, and therefore carry greater weight. Handwritten notes make a big impression and stand out in this era of email and form letters.
- Keep your message focused.
Limit your message to one or two issues. Do not exceed one-page. Choose a few bollet points that support your viewpoint. Clearly state why you are writing and what you want them to do.
- Be specific.
If possible, give an example of how the issue affects your community or district.
- Know your facts.
It is important to be accurate and honest in your letter. You can seriously hurt your credibility by offering inaccurate or misleading information.
- If you can, find out how your decision maker voted on this issue or similar issues in the past.
Personalizing your letter to reflect the viewpoint of your decision maker can be very effective. If the decision maker has voted in favor of your issue in the past, express your thanks.
- Be timely.
Contact your decision maker while there is enough time for him or her to consider and act on your request.
- Say “thank you”
Decision makers appreciate a pat on the back just like anyone else. If, however, your decision maker did not support your position, let him or her know that you are aware of that, and explain why you think he or she shoold have decided differently. It might make a difference next time.
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook