[tabs slidertype=”left tabs”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Invite your Senators and Representatives to visit a project. [/tabtext] [tabtext]Meet One-on-One with you Representatives[/tabtext] [tabtext]Host a Town Hall Meeting[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]Having a politician make an on-site visit to a project business that has received financing or technical assistance from a CDFI is one of the most powerful ways to build a relationship and advocate for CDFI funding. By showing your Senators and Representatives first-hand the work that you do, how you serve your community, and how this federal programs supports your efforts, you can make a lasting impression. This is your opportunity to shine. Showcase Your Organization Always try to organize your event in such a way that your Senators and Representatives can speak to, and meet with, a significant number of constituents. Some ideas include inviting your Senators and Representatives to: Meet your staff and members of the community that you serve. Celebrate your organization or project’s success at a ceremony and say a few words in support of your organization. Receive an award from your organization for the good work that they have done in support of your cause. Connect the Dots. You are not only showcasing your organization, but the federal programs that support your work. This can help turn your Representative or Senator into a champion for the federal programs on which you rely. Make it About the Member of Congress If your Senator or Representative responds strongly to business interests, be sure to have it business focused and give the business owners a prominent role. Ensure the business owner will speak to the necessity of the credit to make these projects possible. If your Senator or Representative is on a committee that addresses the needs of a special population, such as veterans, be sure that they are featured prominently on the agenda. In short, match your program to the interest areas of your Member of Congress. Personalize the experience by inviting a constituent who has benefited from the project can share a personal story of how your organization impacted their life. Individual clients or local government leaders can put a human face on the work you do. Things to Remember Before and During the Visit What two or three points do you want to drive home with your elected officials? Make sure flyers, handouts, and remarks reflect those points. Determine what day is the busiest at the site where you have chosen to hold the event? This is when you will want to try to hold the visit, since it will confirm the success of the project. Invite your Senators and Representatives (page 11) as far in advance as possible—they receive many invites every day, so make your invitation stand out. Let them know you are flexible and willing to accommodate the Member’s schedule. Fax or Email the invite to both the office in DC (attention scheduler) and to the local office. Follow up with the scheduler after a few days. Maximize the value of the visit by inviting media to attend the event. Make sure the Member knows about the media’s involvement in advance and offer to coordinate with the Communications Director in the D.C. office. Include a hashtag or information on ways to follow the event on social media platforms if you have the capability to do so. Be sure to send information on the event to Rapoza Associates,—we can provide assistance with invitations and planning as needed and help promote the visit. In advance During the visit, volunteer your organization to serve as a resource for their offices. Take photos, and post live to social media, being sure to tag others who are participating in the event —this will help broaden your audience and amplify your message. Things to Remember After the Visit Send thank you letters, including any press releases, news articles, and photos from the event. Share photos and articles via email and through social media. You can also create a compilation of social media posts using Storify, This is a great way to capture the day’s interactions and give those who were not able to attend a “big-picture” review of the event. Make sure that you provide the name, email address, and direct phone number of a person in your organization to serve as a constituent services liaison for the Congressional office. [/tab] [tab]Keep CDFI Issues in the Forefront of Their Minds A one-on-one meeting with your Senators and Representatives, or their staff, to discuss the issues carries much more weight than signing a petition, sending a letter, or making a phone call. Make your visit a success by following these pointers: Preparing for the Meeting Know the politician. Find out their background, information on the committees they’re on, and other positions they hold that might be relevant. This information helps draw a direct link between the Senator or Representative and your advocacy efforts. Focus on one issue. You won’t have time to deal with more than one issue well at the meeting; every additional issue that you raise will be less important to the representative or their staff. Know the issue. If you don’t already know, learn the facts, figures, arguments, and counter-arguments surrounding the issue before your meeting. Knowledge is the cornerstone of advocacy. Check out our key messages (page 9) and state fact sheets (Website under the Advocacy Toolkit page). Make it personal. Sharing a real-life example of how your organization has impacted their district will put a human face on the work you do. Call us. We are here to help our members successfully frame the issues and understand them inside out. Our office can offer talking points, issue briefs, research, and specific information about the Senators and Representatives that you are going to meet. At the Meeting Don’t skip the preliminaries. Introduce everyone present and their organizations. Thank the legislator for the opportunity to meet. Confirm how much time you have and respect those limits. Designate one person as the lead speaker. Cutting down on the number of people talking shows consensus, allows the Senator and Representative, and their staff, to focus on the message, and reduces the chances of getting sidetracked. Listen. Finding out their views is just as important as conveying yours. Ask genuine questions and respect their answers. They often contain valuable information. Be clear and ask for what you want. Don’t walk away from a Congressional meeting without asking your Senators and Representatives to take the specific action that you want them to take. End with thank you. Regardless of the outcome, thank your Senators and Representatives for the opportunity to meet and raise your concerns. Don’t forget to thank their staff as well. After the Meeting Follow up. Send your Senators and Representatives a formal thank you, forward any additional information, and create a written confirmation of any agreed-to actions. [/tab] [tab]Partner with Local Organizations to Get Attention Town hall meetings are an important tool for getting the attention of federal lawmakers, informing your neighbors about the issues, garnering media attention, and demonstrating the strength of a community’s stance. Host your own town hall meeting with a Senator or Representative by taking the following steps: Planning Stage: Form a Planning Committee with Other Local and State Groups The more local and state partners you work with, the better your chances of getting your Senators and Representatives to attend. Nothing creates a more powerful incentive than having your event supported by a broad (and large) swath of voters. Remember that constituents always matter! Invite your Board of Directors, clients, staff, and others who are committed to the work you do and who can share a personal story of how your organization has impacted their life. Call us and let us help you lay the groundwork. There are other organizations across the nation who share your passion about strengthening local communities. We can help you find like-minded organizations in your area to partner with, help your planning committee organize the event, and invite media to attend. Use social media to garner additional participation and raise the profile of your Town Hall meeting. Need ideas—ask us and we will provide you with social media best practices for this type of event. Thank everyone for coming. Always have attendees fill out a sign-in sheet with their name, phone number, address, and email address. Contact information will help you follow up with people after the event to let them know what’s happening on the issues that were addressed. [/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]