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With three (3) weeks remaining before Humanities on the Hill, this is the time to be preparing for your virtual Hill visits. Read on to learn how to prepare, how to prep your advocacy team, and what to do if you don’t know an answer to your legislator’s questions (hint: don’t panic). Haven’t scheduled your virtual Hill visit yet? Be sure to check out these tips on how to effectively schedule your meeting and set the right tone even before your visit.
How To Prepare For Your Virtual Hill Visits
Make your case. Gather and prepare to share the information you indicated you would be covering in your invitation and communications with the office. The Federation is currently preparing its FY 2022 position paper and talking points regarding our community’s “ask” for both NEH funding in FY 2022 and the amount for humanities councils. Look for the position paper, talking points and other advocacy materials in the coming weeks.
Share a story. As you know, the strongest cases for an increase in federal funding are the local stories you tell about how your council impacts the legislators’ constituents. This year, councils’ CARES grants will add to the story of invaluable local support you provide. Remember to thank your legislators for CARES funding and the opportunity to support our country at this time.
Questions to keep in mind: What makes your council essential to your community before, during, and after COVID-19? In what new and unexpected ways are you serving the community? Can you offer examples of CARES grantees in your legislators’ districts and the difference funding makes?
Keep your message nonpartisan. Stick to facts, figures, and testimonials from people who have benefited from your council’s programs and grants.
Do your research. Get to know who you will be meeting with to learn more about your elected officials and members of Congress (their interests, committees, and current priorities) through their official websites (www.house.gov or www.senate.gov), social media, and online news coverage.
Confirm details. Follow up with the legislator’s office and any participating colleagues. You can share images online and in your council’s next newsletter. If you are hosting a virtual visit, have contingency plans in place in case of internet connection disruptions or other technical difficulties.
Have a plan for promotion. Take photos and capture images (such as screenshots) during the virtual event, then share them with us by tagging @HumFed across all social media channels and using #HumHill21 to connect with other Humanities on the Hill attendees. You can also include those photos in a later newsletter or in a thank you to your legislators.
Assign a notetaker. Assign someone to take notes during your meeting to ensure proper follow up.
Preparing Your Advocacy Team
Who can and will participate? Invite board members, council staff, and program participants who have been inspired by your council to participate. The best case scenario is if any or all of these people are voters in the legislator’s district.
Plan roles. What role will each person have during your meeting? Make sure everyone participating has a chance to introduce themselves during the meeting.
Keep your team informed. Let everyone participating in the virtual meeting know what to expect, especially which legislators or staffers will be present and which topics will be covered.
Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question. No matter how much you plan, there is still a chance that you might be asked a question you don’t know the answer to off the top of your head. In cases like these, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know,” as long as you follow up with “but I can find out and get back to you after our meetings.” This gives you the opportunity to either research the information to answer the question and/or provide time to craft an appropriate response.
At the end of the meeting, be sure to thank your legislator/staff for their time. Review your talking points and reiterate the items that you plan to follow up on after your meeting.
Share news about your meetings. After your meeting, please tell us how it went and join us for our virtual debriefing on Thursday, March 4 from 5:30 pm-7:00 pm EST.
Questions? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still need to register? Please visit our event site to learn more about Humanities on the Hill events and to register.