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Community Development

Five Steps for Organizing a Successful Congressional Meeting

4 November 2014

Julie Klein, National Alliance to End Homelessness assistant to the president/policy outreach associate

Now that members of Congress are home in their districts and states for the congressional recess, homeless advocates across the country are using this time to engage directly with them. How can you get involved? We’ve already discussed the most effective way: giving members of Congress a tour of your local homeless assistance program), but there’s another way to reach Congress this fall. It’s simple: set up a meeting with your member of Congress (or staff) in their state or district office. Meetings like these set a less formal tone than meetings held in Congress’ D.C. offices and are a great way to build a strong relationship.

Here are five steps for organizing a successful congressional meeting this fall.

Set a date: The first thing to do is reach out to your member of Congress’ state or district scheduler with a meeting invite. Members of Congress are slated to be home through November 11, and will likely be on recess again the week leading up to Thanksgiving, so you should suggest times for the meeting that will work for the core members of your group during these timeframes. Be prepared to follow up to your request and be persistent in order to get a time pinned down. To increase your chances of getting a timely response and securing a meeting, ask colleagues and other stakeholders to send letters of support for the meeting.

Get the right people in the room: Bringing a diverse group of stakeholders to the meeting will show the member of Congress that ending chronic homelessness is an issue that is important to wide variety of constituents of different backgrounds, not just constituents who work for homeless assistance programs. When you’re deciding who to invite, keep in mind that diversity is ideal, but a large group isn’t always better than a smaller group, especially if everyone isn’t on the same page. Limit your invites to people who are most likely to be extremely supportive of the ask and on board with your agenda.

You can read the rest of the blog here, where it was first posted on National Alliance to End Homelessness’ website.

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