Cultivating a relationship with Congress
Would your land trust go a year without reaching out to your largest donor? What about your Members of Congress?
Land trusts are good at building relationships with their key supporters. But it’s just as important to build relationships with your Members of Congress. In fact, elected leaders have the potential to help — or hurt — land trusts’ work in ways that even the most dedicated local supporters can’t match. So it only makes sense to invest in those relationships.
Start with a call
Call each of your legislators and introduce your organization and describing your work in their district. If your representative is unavailable, speaking with a staff member is productive too! Be ready to follow up on the conversation by sending a digital brochure, press release, map, or other information — the more colorful, the better. Invite them to get to know you by visiting your land trust or joining an upcoming event. You can also let them know about your legislative priorities.
Go to their office
Members of Congress are busy people. They won’t always come to you — but you can go to them. Set up an appointment to visit them in D.C. or at their district office. Again, bring a colorful brochure, press release, map or any other information that you can leave with them.
Set up a site visit
Don’t just tell your legislators about conservation — show them! Members of Congress spend much of the year in their home district, meeting with constituents. And there’s no better way to make an impression than by hosting them at an event that showcases conservation in your community. That could mean a visit to a protected property, a press conference, or an event like your annual gala or a volunteer day. Be creative!
Take part in Advocacy Day
Every spring, the Alliance organizes Advocacy Day, which brings conservationists from every part of the country to D.C. to meet in-person with their Members of Congress — reinforcing key messages and demonstrating that land trusts represent a broad constituency.
Join their events
Members of Congress create opportunities for people to meet them, like pancake breakfasts and town hall forums. So be there!
Get to know the staff
Your legislators’ staff can be key allies. Make a point of meeting and staying in touch with the staffers who serve your district or focus on your issues. If you can demonstrate to them that your work is important and the public supports it, they’ll pass that on to your Members of Congress. (Note: if you email firstname.lastname@example.org, we can send you contact information for your entire delegation, including key staff.)
Social media is easy and a convenient way to stay in touch with your Members of Congress. See how to use social media for advocacy.
Say thank you
One of the absolute essentials for building strong relationships with Members of Congress is giving them credit for their good work. Here are 10 ways to say thank you.
Send your Ambassadors
Advocacy Ambassadors are land trust supporters who build strong one-to-one relationships with their Members of Congress and help pass the policies we need to save land. Our goal is to connect all 535 Members of Congress with at least one land trust Ambassador. The Alliance provides all the training and information your Ambassadors need to make a difference, whether or not they have experience in politics. Learn more.