As an advocate, you’re helping to spark positive change to protect our wildlife and wild places. This toolkit provides guidance on the many ways to share your message of support with friends, family, public officials, media outlets, and more.
Questions about the toolkit? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When public officials receive phone calls from the constituents they represent, they know that their constituents have strong feelings about the issue and are taking notice of how they vote. When you call to make your voice heard, you will have a chance to talk to a staff member or leave a message, saying who you are and what action you would like your public official to take.
- Choose an action and decide from that written message what you want to say to your public official.
- Write down what you want to say ahead of time. Usually you will say that you want your public official to support or oppose a specific policy, just like what is written in the action alert message.
- Find your public official’s phone number:
U.S. President: 202-456-1414
For state legislators or other public officials, you can find the phone number for their offices by visiting their website.
- Introduce yourself and give your address, making clear that you live in the area represented by the public official. If you have any special credentials, state them.
- Say why you are calling. Keep it simple and short. Only call about one issue at a time. Say exactly what issue or bill you want your member of Congress to support or oppose. You can also include one or two reasons why you think they should support or oppose a specific policy.
- Thank the staff aide for their time.
Your personal thoughts and experiences can make a profound impact on your public officials. A concise, well thought-out letter that showcases who you are and why you care about issue is one of the best tools for bringing about change. Here’s how to write an effective letter to your public official.
- Plan your letter. Contact your public official while there is still time for your request to be considered. Letters sent by mail can take a month or longer to be processed before reaching your representative or senators on Capitol Hill, so plan accordingly. You can also send your letter within the body of an email (i.e. with no attachment), or fax your letter.
- Include your return address on the letter, as non-constituent mail may be thrown out.
- Use your own words. Personalized letters, rather than those sent by form letter or email, show greater personal commitment on the part of the writer, and therefore carry greater weight.
- Find out how your legislators voted on this issue in the past or what your public official’s current position is on the issue.
- Keep it simple. Your letter should address a single topic or issue. Typed, one-page letters structured like this are best:
1. Say why you are writing and who you are. List your “credentials.” (Include your name and address.)
2. Provide more detail. Be more factual than emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite the correct title or number whenever possible.
3. Close by requesting the action you want taken, such as a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.
- Be persistent. Write back and ask for more information if you do not receive a specific response.
- Thank the public official for taking the time to read your letter.
- Be clear about what you want, listing the bill number and full name and any other pertinent ask.
- Tell a personal story or example to make the issue real.
- Ask for a written response with his or her position.
Addressing Members of Congress
To Your Senator
The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
To Your Representative
The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
When writing to the Chairperson of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman
Dear Madam Chairwoman
Dear Mr. Speaker
Dear Madam Speaker
Cite these legislation identifiers when writing to members of Congress:
House Bills: “H.R._____”
House Resolutions: “H.RES._____”
House Joint Resolutions: “H.J.RES._____”
Senate Bills: “S._____”
Senate Resolutions: “S.RES._____”
Senate Joint Resolutions: “S.J.RES._____”
A letter to the editor is a short article that gives an opinion on a specific issue. Newspapers tend to publish letters to the editor that respond to a current issue in the news, or an article that was just published in the paper. Here’s how to write and submit a letter.
- Find a hook. Use an issue that you just heard about in the local or national news, that you just received an action alert about from the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, or that you read about in our newsroom.
- Personalize your letter. Explain how the issue affects you and your community, or the wildlife and natural places you care about.
- Keep the letter short, preferably under 200 words. Make sure you end with a demand or strong conclusion. Use a few facts and figures to support your argument.
- Adopt the proper tone. Be respectful and polite in getting your message across.
- Display authorship. Include your name, address, and a daytime telephone number — papers need to confirm who wrote the article before they will print it.
- Pick a great title. Give your letter a title that will draw attention.
- Send it out. Get that type-written letter in the mail or email it as soon as you have it done and proofread for errors. Send it to more than one paper to increase your chances of getting published.
- Be persistent. If your letter to the editor doesn’t get published, after a few days, call the editor and ask them why not. Find out what it would take to get it published next time.
- If your letter is published, please email us a link at email@example.com or mail a hard copy to:
National Wildlife Federation Action Fund
1200 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
- Most newspapers provide instructions for sending Letters to the Editor. Check inside their front page or in the editorial section, or search for your paper’s contact information online. Here you can usually find an email address or an online submission form.
- If you have trouble finding an email or postal address, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your paper and we’ll help you find it.
- If you get a letter published, make sure to send a copy to the office of your public official. This is a great way to show them that your issue is important to the community they serve.
Share information and opportunities to protect wildlife! You can forward emails to your friends or post links to action alerts on social media.
- Join the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund on Facebook.
- Follow @wildlifeaction on Twitter for updates from the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund.
Events are great places to speak directly with public officials, meet fellow wildlife advocates, and show your support for wildlife-friendly policies. Sign up for our email list and we’ll let you know when there are events near you.
Mobilize your friends to take action and have fun while doing it! You could show a film about an important issue and discuss ways to take action, write letters, or make phone calls to legislators.
If you’d like to host a party, please email us at email@example.com and we can provide you with more information.