Monday, July 30, 2007

To Reduce Poverty

Catholic Charities is devoting the month of August to reducing poverty. This Action Alert--dated 30 July 2007--is filled with resource links.

Action Alert: Invite Members of Congress to Visit Your Programs in August

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Share the Good News About Your Work in the Community


WHAT: Get involved with Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America this August and show your elected officials how poverty impacts your community.

Members of Congress will be home in their states and local districts in the month of August during the Congressional recess. As Congress will be considering a number of issues this fall, including funding for a wide range of social programs that help families and individuals living in poverty, we urge you to invite your Representative and Senators to visit your agency and experience for themselves how the programs you run serve people and improve your community.

Help spread the word about your good work and Catholic Charities USA's

Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America!

Why is this important? When elected officials are able to see a program working to help people in the communities they represent, they are often more likely to connect with an issue and be more supportive of programs. Such visits can have a direct impact on legislative decisions made in Washington.

How do I get started? To initiate the invitation, write a brief letter to the Member at his or her local district office (find contact information for the office here). Briefly introduce yourself and your organization and state the purpose of the letter, inviting the Member of Congress to visit on a specified date, or that you would like to arrange a time for the Member to visit your site while he or she is home. Explain why you would like the Member to visit your program (to see how an example of a good social service program can work in the community, being specific about the benefits it provides those you serve and the community in general.). Include specific information about the visit (date, time, location, others who may be invited, whether the media will be invited, what activities are planned for the visit). We encourage you to invite the media to maximize the impact of the visit and exposure for your good work.

You should then follow-up with a phone call to the scheduler in the local district office. Inquire if your letter has been received and if the Congressperson will be able to attend. If possible, also ask to speak to the person on staff who deals with the related policy issue (e.g., child welfare or housing) issues so that he or she is also aware of your request.

If the Member of Congress will be attending your event, ask if there are any questions regarding the visit that you can answer for the office or the Member, or if there are any special arrangements you need to make. Reiterate the specifics of the visit or event to the scheduler if needed.

Today's the day: When the legislator visits your program, let him or her know the scope of the program: how many people you serve, what impacts the program has on families, the community and the local economy. Explain why supporting programs like yours is important to their district. Encourage interaction between the lawmaker and staff and those you serve. It is helpful for Members of Congress to make connections with those who benefit from the program and see the changes in people's lives that good service programs make. Be prepared to answer any questions that might be asked about your program.

Follow up: Provide any follow-up materials that may have been promised during the visit. After the event, send a brief thank you letter to the Member of Congress and any staff who were instrumental in assisting you. Keep the relationship going with periodic communication with the Congressperson and his or her staff.

Who can I call for assistance and more information? Please contact Christin Driscoll, Senior Director for Policy Development and Advocacy, at

Download a copy of our new advocacy manual for more tips!

Learn more about the Campaign to Reduce Poverty and blog about your experiences with your Members of Congress this summer!

For more legislative and policy information, please visit the Catholic Charities USA website.

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