Five Tips for Effecting a Legislative Change

It's all too easy to feel that the lawmakers are calling the shots, and all we can do is ride out the decisions they make. However, often it's down to the people on the ground, working hard to lobby for a cause and gain support, to catalyze changes.

As a member of your community, business, organization, action group or any combination of the above, lobbying for legislative change can be an effective way to gain support for your cause and work with policy makers to bring about real changes that matter to you. Here are five tips to help you on your path to effective a legislative change.

1. Know Your Topic

A sound working knowledge of the topic at hand will help you when it comes to meeting with policy makers or local representatives, reaching out to your local community for support, and talking to the media. Make sure you know your issue inside out, including current laws surrounding it. Gather plenty of facts and figures to back up your case.

2. Get To Know Your Local Legislators

Take any opportunity you can to get to know your local legislators. Whether they're on the campaign trail, fundraising, or attending a local event, take the time to introduce yourself and get to know them. This will serve you well in two ways. First, when it comes to tackling a change in the law, they'll already be familiar with you. Second, you'll get to know their interests and goals, which means you can communicate with them more effectively.

3. Increase Your Political Awareness

The stronger your political awareness, the better. Set out to learn all you can about the political process, especially as pertains to your local area and your topic of interest. Find out what it takes to bring about a change in the law. Who can suggest or write a new bill? How do you go about finding a sponsor? Where can you weigh in on an issue? How do you make contact with the right people? The more you know about your local political landscape, the better.

4. Find Your Allies

One of the keys to effecting a legislative change is bringing together the right group of people to research, campaign and stand up together. You might look for allies among:

- Legislators who already support your cause.
- Members of a certain community or group who are affected by the issue at hand.
- Those who stand to benefit from a change in the law.
- Experts and professionals in the field
- Organizations who already work with your cause or the communities affected by it.

5. Make Your Opinion Known

Reaching out to your local legislators can make a difference. It doesn't take long to hand write a letter and many legislators even have email addresses. When you write, be sure to address your legislator by name and using the correct salutation. Don't use a form letter. Instead, make your letter professional, personal, and clear, being sure to state your position. Remember to specifically request a response.

Even the biggest legislative changes start with small steps. Start with these five steps to set yourself on the path to making a real difference.