Public officials want and need to hear from the Y. Inviting lawmakers to visit your YMCA is an opportunity to effectively educate them on how the Y impacts and strengthens communities every day. Summer recess in August is a great time to invite your members and with that right around the corner, here are helpful steps to successfully inviting, planning, and executing a congressional visit!
These tips have been adapted from Y-USA Government Relations’ Engaging Public Officials Toolkit. Click here for the full Tool-kit.
Step 1. Make your request by email to scheduler
Immediately follow up the initial request with a phone call to the member’s local district/state office and Washington D.C. office. Suggest specific times and dates during the congressional recess – ideally when your programs are in full swing.
Step 2. A week before the visit, call to confirm the date and time with the scheduler
Be sure to ask how much time you will have with the senator or representative. Be flexible! Keep in mind that legislators’ schedules can change without notice.
PREPARE FOR THE VISIT
Step 3. Identify board members, youth, volunteers, program participants, or staff who can tell the Y story effectively.
Aim to have 4-5 people for the visit to ensure the most effective outcome and be prepared! Plan how the visit will proceed and clearly communicate the goals and purpose of the visit with those who are involved.
Tip: Do your research! Visit the senator or representative’s website and social media pages to learn more about their background interests – you may even have a common personal connection!
Step 4. Create informational packets
Identify pertinent, impactful pieces that tell your Y’s story effectively. It could include your community impact fact sheet, annual report, press releases, program/schedule of the visit and program brochures. Incorporate any articles, youth essays, parent letters, awards, etc. that highlight your
Step 5. Create a proposed schedule
The congressional office will appreciate this in advance of the visit and will likely request it.
Step 6. Engage the media
Ask the congressional office if it’s okay to invite press. Work with the member’s press staff to send a media alert to invite press and prepare a press release for the day of the event.
Step 7. Plan on taking and sharing photos
Share photos with your local newspaper, Alliance, and/or on social media with the hashtag #Yadvocate.
AFTER THE VISIT
Step 8. Send a personalized thank you letter with a picture from the visit to the member
Include any new information or newspaper articles resulting from the visit. Add the member and staff to your email and snail mail distribution lists – newsletter, press release, etc. to keep the aware of the work of your Y.