Advocacy Dos & Don'ts

When meeting with a legislator or other elected official, it is important to follow some basic guidelines for how to conduct the meeting and yourself. The following “Dos and Don'ts” will help you plan your meeting and ensure that it is successful.

DOs  DON'Ts 
DO Identify yourself and who you represent every time you make contact. Legislators and local policymakers meet hundreds of people and they can't remember everyone. DON'T Arrive with a crowd. One to three well-prepared supporters are enough.
DO Know the issue or the status of the legislation. Refer to the legislation by bill number. DON'T Back legislators into a corner.
DO Be brief (10 minutes or less). Legislators are very busy. DON'T Overwhelm them with too much information or jargon.
DO Be specific and practical. Relate arguments to situations in the legislator's home district. DON'T Get into lengthy arguments.
DO Thank legislators. DON'T Be afraid to say you don't know. Offer to find out and send the information soon.
DO Keep the door open for further discussion even if you don't agree at the time. There's a reason they say, “Politics makes strange bedfellows”. DON'T Confront, threaten, pressure or beg.
DO Talk with legislators even if their positions differ with yours. DON'T Expect legislators to be specialists. Their schedules and the number of bills make them generalists.
DO Think of yourself as a consultant to a legislator. You have expertise and insights that help the legislators understand the bill. DON'T Ask the impossible...too often.
DO Be honest. NEVER lie. Acknowledge opposing arguments and any political liabilities.    
DO Ask the legislator for support.    
DO Leave behind a one-page fact sheet summarizing your position. Highlight important facts and arguments. Include your name, address, and telephone number so you can be reached if there are any questions.    

2020 Legislative Position Paper


Illinois House Members

101st General Assembly

Illinois Senate Members

101st General Assembly