Writing Advocacy Letters -- and what happens to letters once they arrive?

11 Aug 2022 9:35 AM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)
Writing an effective letter to government and other officials is one way you can influence policy-makers and educate them on women's rights issues and diverse perspectives.

Should you email or send a handwritten letter?

We've noticed that handwritten letters typically receive more attention, so if you are writing about a general topic, send a physical letter if you have the time. If the issue is more urgent, then email is the best option. A physical letter has to endure security screenings that can involve a delay of up to three weeks.

The NFBPWC OneClick Politics platform provides you with sample letters to make it very easy to do, but just in case you'd like to add your own flare to your letter, here are a few tips that you can use to write them on your own:

A Professional Beginning: Using a proper subject line and salutation can really help you set a polite and informative tone.

  • Use "Dear Representative Brown" or other office held - Senator or Assemblymember.
  • Use your subject line or first sentence of the letter to clearly state the reason for your letter. 
"I am writing about HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, currently before the Senate. I encourage you to approve this legislation as written on the grounds that ...."

Informative Yet Not Too Wordy: Identify yourself as a constituent and state your views using common terms. You cannot assume the recipient has a full understanding of certain activism language or references as your do.
  • Focus on key points, make your requests clear, and when appropriate, cite the bill number (HR 8).
  • Explain the potential impact on women -- and you if relevant. It's nice to be able to personalize the issue. So, try to use "I" statements and reference specific examples.
  • A one-page (or less) positive letter is ideal. The goal is to write about one issue and explain how you want the recipient to address your concerns.
Expect a Reply...but not all will: In closing you'll want to briefly recap your main points and ask how they intend to act / plans to vote. Worst case scenario -- you will only receive a form response or no replay at all. But be prepared to be contacted by the recipient or a staff member! You'll most definitely want to make the time to talk if they do.

What happens to your letter after you send it?

The policy-maker/legislator or a member of their staff will read your letter. They will verify that you are a constituent and then route your letter as either:

  • Important correspondence to be dealt with by the recipient.
  • Unique and moving to be shared with the larger decision-making group (like Congress or the Senate).
  • A tally number of the letters received is given during an issue briefing before a vote.

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