Virtual Hill Visits – Scheduling Your Virtual Visit (Humanities on the Hill 2021)

February 2, 2021

Click here to go back to the Humanities on the Hill event website.

Now is the time to schedule your Humanities on the Hill virtual congressional visits for the first week of March. Need help? Read below to learn the who, what when, how, and why of setting up your virtual Hill visits below:

How To Schedule Your Virtual Hill Visits

Learn about your representative:

  • Click here to see who represents you in Congress. 
  • Review their websites, press releases, and social media to get a sense of how the office is currently operating and what live and virtual events they have been participating in and holding.

Request and schedule your meeting:

    • Who do you want to invite to your meeting?
      • Legislator
      • Congressional staff (e.g. legislative director, staffers dealing with NEH/NEA appropriations)
      • Council executive director, board members, staff
      • Constituents served by council programs
    • What is the format of your meeting?
      • Video Meeting: many offices use Microsoft Teams, but they can also access Zoom or other video conference platforms
      • Phone or conference call
    • When do you want to schedule the meeting?
      • Identify different times that work for you to suggest to the office/legislator/staff (ideally occurring during Humanities on the Hill, March 2-4, 2021)
      • TIP: In addition to scheduling a meeting, keep an eye open for constituent conference calls, virtual town halls, and other events that your legislator’s office may be holding. These are great places to have your voice represented either through a council representative – board or staff – or a constituent who is also a program participant or serviced by your council’s work
    • How do you schedule the virtual meeting?
      • Reach out to your contact in the legislator’s office or call to find the name of the legislator’s Washington, D.C. office scheduler. 
      • Request that you want to meet with the legislator or staff who handles the cultural agency appropriations to discuss the FY 2022 budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the funding for humanities councils. The NEH budget is included in the Department of the Interior. 
      • TIP: Be specific about why you are calling, the type of meeting you wish to hold (virtual, phone call), and what you are asking the legislator to do.  Note: Some offices do not have staff who handle appropriations for the cultural agencies (NEH/NEA).  You can ask for someone who deals with Interior Appropriations.
    • Why follow-up is critical to securing your virtual Hill meeting
      • Hill staff are overwhelmed with scheduling requests and you may need to follow-up multiple times in order to set your appointment.
      • TIP: Include legislative staff from previous meetings or office interactions in follow-up messages and remember to show gratitude, respect, kindness, flexibility, and patience in your conversations with staffers. These are unusual times.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share more about how to prepare for your virtual Hill visits, including information about an advocacy webinar, print and online resources provided by the Federation to assist in making the case, and a guide for a successful virtual Hill visit. In the meantime, following are a few tips to get you started:

TIP 1: Think about the roles of each council or constituent representative and who will speak on what topics during your virtual visits. This is more important than ever on Zoom or the phone to avoid confusion over who and when someone is speaking on your team and to deliver a clear and concise message. Remember as with in person visits, your call may be as short as 10 minutes depending on your legislator’s schedule for that day.

TIP 2: Set up a way for those attending the virtual meetings to connect or contact each other outside of email (e.g. texting, Slack).

TIP 3: If you are creating a PowerPoint presentation, be sure to keep it to less than four (4) slides.

TIP 4: Send your materials for the meeting to your legislator’s office via email 48 hours in advance.

TIP 5: Brief your team on Zoom etiquette expectations for all participants (council staff, Board members, any constituents) regarding muting, and using video.

Click here to go back to the Humanities on the Hill event website.

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