Now is the time to schedule your Humanities on the Hill virtual congressional visits for the first full week of March. Need help? Read below to learn the who, what, when, how, and why of setting up your virtual Hill visits:
How To Schedule Your Virtual Hill Visits
Learn about your representatives:
- Click here to see who represents you in Congress.
- Review their websites, press releases, and social media to get a sense of what the office is working on, including current legislative priorities and events or initiatives in which they’re involved.
Request and schedule your meeting:
Who do you want to invite to your meeting?
From their office:
- Congressional staff (e.g. legislative director, staffers dealing with NEH/NEA appropriations)
From the council:
- Council executive director, board members, staff
- Constituents served by council programs
- Someone who knows the Member
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 timeframes that work for your group to suggest to the office/legislator/staff (ideally occurring during Humanities on the Hill, March 7-9 & 14, 2022).
- TIP: In addition to scheduling a meeting, keep an eye open for upcoming 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 heard, 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 and contact information of the legislator’s Washington, D.C. office scheduler.
- Request a meeting with the legislator or staff who handles the cultural agency appropriations to discuss the FY 2023 budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the funding for humanities councils. The NEH budget is included in the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.
- TIP: Be specific about why you are calling, including the type of meeting you wish to hold (e.g. virtual, phone call, in-person), and what you are asking the legislator to do. Note: Some offices do not have staff who handle appropriations for the cultural agencies like NEH. You can ask for someone who deals with Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies 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, here are a few tips to get you started:
TIP 1: Think about the message you want to convey: what is your council contributing to communities throughout the state, territory, or district; what programs may be of interest to each Member with whom you have a meeting; why are your programs important? Consider the roles of each council or constituent representative you will invite to attend the meeting and who will speak on what topics during your virtual visits. This is more important than ever on Zoom or the phone to deliver a clear and concise message and to avoid confusion over who and when someone on your team is speaking. Remember, as with in-person visits, your call may be as short as 5-10 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 not to exceed a length of 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 video conferencing etiquette expectations for all participants (council staff, board members, constituents) regarding muting and using video.
Stay tuned for updates on the Humanities on the Hill event website.