2017 August Recess Toolkit

August Recess Toolkit

As a brain tumor advocate, you know the importance of contacting your members of Congress about the needs of the brain tumor community. From funding brain tumor research to enhancing resources for childhood cancer survivors, decisions made by our elected officials have an impact on the brain tumor community. Throughout the year, we ask you to call or email your representatives to educate them and ask for their support. Our collective voices have made a difference in the past year, helping to secure additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), and bringing awareness and new co-sponsors to the Childhood Cancer STAR Act.

It’s time to build on that momentum, and the connections made during our DC-based Head to the Hill event in May, by meeting with your members of Congress when they return to your district during the Congressional Recess in August. This toolbox will walk you through the steps of scheduling the meeting, recruiting others to attend with you, and educating yourself on our legislative agenda. We will also host a web training on August 2nd at 12 PM EDT/9 AM PDT to further prepare you for your meetings.Register for the web training today!

Follow the steps below and let your members of Congress know how they can take action to support brain tumor patients and families in their district.

Questions? Please contact Kacey Troy, Research and Advocacy Manager, at advocacy@braintumor.org or 520.762.4544.

Learn the Issues

The August Congressional recess is a chance to advocate to members of Congress on medical research funding and supporting the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. Below are links to informational sheets on each of these issues, as well as a link to our state specific fact sheets, which provide general information about brain tumors and information specific to your home state.

The links below are downloadable PDFs that you should bring with you to any meetings or drop-offs.

Scheduling Meetings

The first step is to call your elected officials’ district offices to schedule your meetings. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up your meetings:

  1. Find contact information for your Congressman or Congresswoman, and/or your Senators
  2. You can look up your Congressman or Congresswoman at house.gov.
  3. You can look up your Senators at senate.gov.
  4. Call the office closest to your home and let them know you’d like to schedule a meeting during the August Recess while your representative is in the district.
  5. Here is a sample script: “Hi, my name is (name) and I’m a constituent as well as an advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society. I’d like to schedule a meeting with (Congressman/Senator X) while he/she is home this August to discuss the concerns of the brain tumor community. Could someone help me do that?
  6. If you are able to schedule a meeting over the phone, that’s great! Sometimes they’ll have someone call you back, or ask you to email the office scheduler. If you leave a message or send an email and don’t hear back within a week, call back, let them know who you emailed or called previously, and go over your script again.
  7. Once your meeting is scheduled, contact us at advocacy@braintumor.org and we can help you reach out to other advocates in your congressional district or state to join you at the meeting. Also, feel free to invite your contacts in the district or state who have also been affected by brain tumors.
  8. Congratulations! That’s the first step in building your relationship with your elected officials!

Before the Meeting

Planning and preparation are keys to success

Research your elected official

Prepare meeting materials

Tips for a Successful Meeting

Make sure you arrive at the office at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled meeting time, both to find the office and let them know you’re there. Also, if you are attending as a group and haven’t met in person before, it may be helpful to meet even earlier at a location nearby to review your plan for the meeting. This meeting prep form may help you to determine the flow of the meeting.

The best way to start the meeting is to thank the staff member or member of Congress for their time. Let them know you’re advocates with the National Brain Tumor Society, introduce yourselves and tell them where in the district you live.

For a guide to the outline of the meeting, review our meeting prep form. While you don’t have to stick to that exact plan, it’s helpful to have an idea of how the meeting will run.

A few other tips when meeting with elected officials and/or a member of their staff::

Telling Your Story

The most important thing you can do during your meeting is to share your connection to the public policy issue you came to discuss. Telling your story of how you are connected to brain tumors can be an emotional experience. A few tips for telling your story include:

By following the tips above, you can have a productive meeting with your elected officials during this August recess. Good luck! And don’t forget to tell us how it goes by emailing advocacy@braintumor.org.

DROP BY A DISTRICT OFFICE

If a meeting time isn’t available with your member of Congress or a staff member, you can stop by their district office during regular business hours to drop off information on the policy matters affecting the brain tumor community.

If you’re not sure who your members of Congress are, look them up at: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

On the same websites, you can find a listing of office locations. Find the location in your state, and if there are multiple locations, pick the one that is closest to you.

Print out a copy of our issue briefs and state specific fact sheets to bring with you to the office, and bring either a business card or a notecard with your name and address on it. Once you’re there, you can speak to the staff member at the front desk. Here’s a suggestion on what you could say:

“Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in _______. I am a constituent of ______ and a volunteer brain tumor advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society. I wanted to leave some information here to pass on to the Representative/Senator while she/he is home for the August Recess. These flyers have information on the policy matters affecting the brain tumor community, including medical research funding, and pediatric cancer research and drug development. I’ve also included information on how brain tumors affect our state. Could you please pass this on to (Representative/Senator) (NAME)? Thank you for your time and attention.”

Questions? Please contact Kacey Troy, Research and Advocacy Manager, at advocacy@braintumor.org or 520.762.4544.

Relationship building tip!

While you’re there, ask for the business card of the person who handles constituent requests related to health care. Follow up with an email to that staff person, letting them know you dropped off the information. If you build a relationship now, you may have an easier time getting a meeting next August!

Engage on Social Media

Make sure to share your experiences with other advocates, ask questions, and find more resources by utilizing social media including Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #btaction and be sure to follow @NBTStweets

Finally, you can check if any of your Senators or Representatives are on Twitter or Facebook (most are!) and send them thank you messages for meeting with you, or links to more information.

Attend a Town Hall Meeting

Many members of Congress hold Town Hall Meetings in August as a chance to hear from many of their constituents at one time. To find out if there is a meeting scheduled in your area, call your Representative or Senator’s office and ask if he or she will be hosting any Town Hall meetings.

They will also often list their Town Hall meetings on their websites. Visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to find your legislators’ websites.

At the Town Hall Meeting:

After the Town Hall Meeting:

Follow up

Note about Town Hall meetings: Town Hall meetings have become more popular for constituent groups in recent years, and often can become contentious if the groups do not agree with the legislator. As a volunteer of the National Brain Tumor Society, do not be partisan. Please do not make comments that are politically leaning or charged. National Brain Tumor Society works with elected officials in a nonpartisan manner.

Questions? Please contact Kacey Troy, Research and Advocacy Manager at advocacy@braintumor.org or 520.762.4544.

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