Making meaningful change in the world can come through many avenues. We have the ability to do good through volunteering, donating, and spreading the word online, but one of the most powerful ways we can create change is through policy change. Governments have a lot of power. Political leaders are accountable to their constituents, and we have the ability to use that for good.
With so many issues going on (from gun violence to climate change), our leaders need our voices more than ever when they’re shaping policy — but this can be confusing and hard to navigate if you’ve never advocated on behalf of a cause to your representatives in the United States.
Good Good Good has created a straightforward, simple guide as to how — and why — you can find your local representative to advocate for the issues you’re passionate about.
How to contact the White House about a cause you care about:
Understandably, when most people think of reaching the government, they think of the White House. But while the president and his administration are the highest levels of office, it’s not always effective to get to them first.
However, even though the president can’t write laws, the president has influence on laws. Additionally, the president can pardon people, pass executive orders, and change how processes work. Notably, the president is a public figure with influence, so that alone has power. Keep all of this in-mind when you contact the White House; you want to ensure your request is something the president has power to do.
To reach the White House by phone, you can call 202-456-1111.
You can also send a handwritten letter to the White House at their iconic mailing address. Presidents have been known to respond to them, as evidenced by these examples from the Obama White House, showing that your voice can be heard.
The White House also recommends emailing them, as they’re equipped to manage emails faster than phone calls or letters.
How to contact your senators about a cause you care about:
Every state has two senators and what's unique about them is they control judge appointments, try the cases of federal officers that have been impeached by the house, and more. Since senators are voted into office, it’s their obligation to listen to their constituents — meaning that you have a say in what they do.
The United States Senate has a page on their website dedicated to helping you find your senator. All you need to do is enter your ZIP code, hit enter, and the website will tell you who the Senators are for your state, which party they’re part of, and will link directly to their website, where their contact information will be listed.
You can also call 1-844-USA-0234 (1-844-872-0234) and enter your zip code to be connected directly with your elected officials. (This is a great phone number to add to your contacts.)
How to contact the House of Representatives about a cause you care about:
Unlike the Senate, the number of representatives per state is determined by population — but some states have less reps than senators because they're so small. Since there are usually more representatives than Senators, they tend to handle issues that are more local to their district.
To find the representative for your district, you can head to the United States House of Representatives’ website. You’ll need to enter your ZIP code and then they will tell you who the Congressional representative is for your area, which party they belong to, their direct website, and their contact information.
The phone number 1-844-USA-0234 will also allow you to get connected directly with your member of congress. You’ll immediately enter your zip code and your call will be rerouted to your congressperson’s office.
How to contact your governor about a cause you care about:
As state leaders, governors are responsible for implementing state laws. They approve the state budget and appropriations, the confirmation of judicial appointments, and more. You should contact your governor about local issues in your state, since they oversee state operations. You can reach your governor by finding your state here and reach them through phone, fax, or email.
How to contact your local elected officials about a cause you care about:
If facing a specific issue in your city or district, going straight to your locally elected official is likely the most effective way to resolve a problem or advocate for a cause. On a state level, this could mean your state representative, and your state senate. And on a local level, this could be the mayor of your city, the councilmember of your district, or anyone whose jurisdiction is more specific to your needs.
You can find your local elected officials using My Reps. All you need to do is enter your address to find your representatives at a local, county, state or federal level, and you can filter out the results so you only get exactly what you’re looking for
1-844-USA-0234 (1-844-872-0234) also works with state reps. Just like with federal representatives, you can call this number, enter your zip code, and get connected with your elected officials’ offices.
More tips on how to easily contact your elected officials:
If making a phone call and talking with a human feels too daunting, you have a few other options as well. You can call outside of office hours and leave a message for your representative. (Just remember to say your name and zip code so they know that their office actually represents you.)
An alternative to My Reps is Common Cause, which allows you to find your representatives as well as see what bills they’ve introduced, what committees they serve on, and any political contributions they’ve received. This website only works at a state and federal level, but it’s a useful tool to see what elected officials are doing while they’re in office.
If you’re nervous about what to say, 5 Calls is an organization that generates scripts for you to use while on the phone. They have a database of common causes people call their representatives about, as well as an ongoing newsletter on latest issues.
You can also use Resistbot, a tool that helps you connect to your elected officials via text message. Just text the word “RESIST” to 50409 (or to Resistbot on iMessage or Telegram) and follow the directions they message back. Resistbot will turn your texts into a letter or email, and deliver it to the elected officials in an efficient, organized manner. They’ll allow you to “text” any of your elected officials — from your mayor to the President.
It’s important to know how to contact your local representatives, especially if they’re making legislative changes that you don’t agree with or want to speak to them about. While we may live in a divisive time, the issues that plague America — like homelessness or the student debt crisis — affect every single community. Contacting your representative is also a way to speak for those who cannot advocate for themselves. By emailing or phoning your elected representatives through the means listed above, your voice can make a difference in the policies that shape this country.