August recess is a crucial time of the year when elected officials return to their home states and districts for a full month of constituent engagement. For organizations and companies, this break offers a unique opportunity to host lawmakers, fostering on-the-ground relationships that can facilitate success in building out relationships with the office and staff, raising awareness for your issue, and showing on-the-ground impact for your policy priority. Here’s why getting in front of your elected official during the August recess is so important:
Show not tell: Touring a facility or spending time in an area that a policy would benefit from can make a far more memorable point than describing an issue in a congressional DC office. It’s a lot easier to build a connection in DC when staff and the elected official have a foundational memory associating policy with a tangible location.
Connect local politics to national policies: Connecting a national policy interest to a community will provide a tangible example for Members of Congress and staff to bring back to DC. Meeting at home allows lawmakers to witness firsthand the impact of their policies and decisions on the local community. Even better if you can connect your elected official’s office with other offices across the country who are facing similar experiences.
Showcase your coalition clout: Organizations that are the most successful at building local support take a big tent approach to hosting an elected official. By bringing together a wide range of supporters – the stranger the bedfellow, the better – will show broad consensus for the issue and build goodwill with the office you are meeting with. With limited time in each community, an elected official generally sees this group setting as a boon for building broader relationships and a better understanding of the many layers of a policy issue.
Make the ask nonpartisan: Meeting at home can often be seen as a more neutral, nonpartisan setting. This can lead to more open and constructive discussions, especially in states with split delegations.
Build trust and credibility: Building relationships takes time and effort, and the same applies to lawmakers and organizations. By regularly hosting lawmakers, organizations demonstrate their commitment to engaging in constructive dialogue and finding solutions to community challenges. This consistent engagement fosters trust and credibility, making organizations reliable sources of information and expertise on critical issues. As a result, elected officials and their staff are more likely to turn to these organizations for insights and data when crafting policies.
The importance of organizations hosting lawmakers during the August recess cannot be overstated. This period presents a golden opportunity for lawmakers to connect with their constituents on a personal level and understand the pressing issues they face. Long-term relationships built during this time can result in lasting impacts on policymaking and contribute to a more robust and participatory democratic process. Embracing this practice is a win-win for both lawmakers and organizations, and it ultimately benefits the communities they both serve.