Advocacy Toolkit

Engage with Lawmakers Today!

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4719, the America Gives More Act, in July. This bill includes a permanent extension of the IRA charitable rollover and other charitable giving incentives, along with a simplification of the private foundation excise tax. Your Members of Congress are back home in their districts this month to prepare for the November elections. Take the opportunity to speak to them at local events or gatherings, and urge them to include the America Gives More Act provisions in any lame duck tax bill they consider. 

This bill helps maintain the strong, diverse fabric of philanthropy in all types of communities. By working with friends in the field we can ensure that policymakers understand that the decisions they make in Washington matter at home.

Engaging with your Members of Congress – whether by e-mail letter, phone call, or in-person meeting – will help build a strong working relationship. Most importantly, it provides a unique opportunity for you to demonstrate the positive impact that your organization has in their state every day.

The materials in this toolkit are meant to assist you with all types of interaction you could have with lawmakers: sending a letter or e-mail, tweeting, writing an op-ed, preparing for meetings or phone calls, and following up after the fact.

Get Started Today with Our Handy Guide

1. Plan

It's important to know what outreach opportunities are available to you, and what your organization is allowed to do as a 501(c)(3). In particular, we recognize that private foundations may want additional guidance on what kinds of advocacy are permissible. The documents below will help you decide what outreach strategy makes the most sense for you. You can also contact Counsel Suzanne Friday at for more information on your specific situation.

If you don't know who your members of Congress are, you can visit the websites of the House of Representatives and the Senate to look them up. From there you can also access contact information about your lawmakers and their websites with details about local offices.

If you are able to visit your member in Washington, use our sample meeting request to email their office and arrange an appointment. We strongly recommend emailing your requests, as security concerns mean posted mail can be delayed by a month or longer.

Be sure to take the time to research current policy issues. The following documents will be useful in getting up to speed on the current policy landscape:

Finally, many members of Congress have already taken significant action in support of philanthropy. Visit our list of Philanthropy Supporters on the Hill to see if your member has already taken action.


2. Execute

Make use of the following resources to ensure your message sticks with lawmakers:

These documents are customizable, with ample space for you to include examples of how your organization impacts your community.

3. Follow Up

It's important that you follow up with continued engagement with your lawmaker and his or her staff to ensure your message continues to resonate.

Lawmakers follow their hometown press closely, so submitting an, op-ed or letter to the editor can help drive your message home. Use these templates to get started:

Let us know how it goes! After you send a letter, e-mail, or have another type of interaction with your lawmakers, please take the time to fill out our short survey describing your experience. Capturing this kind of information will help us plan future outreach and advocacy efforts. It will also allow us to identify lawmakers who support the sector, and those with whom we should continue to engage.