Advocacy & Action

Your help is essential in reaching our nation’s leaders. While significant scientific progress has been made in the past decade, there are competing forces in the political arena willing to set science back 100 years. These groups have the resources, the volunteers and the funding to make real and lasting political changes. Don’t let America fall behind in scientific innovation and research. The scientific community should be the most outspoken authority on matters of science policy, your voice is too important to go unheard.

ABCS of Advocacy 

As the world shrinks and advocacy groups begin to adapt their message for specific audiences, elected officials find themselves inundated with special interests (biomedical research, education, transportation, agricultural, and countless others). To reach Members of Congress, the messages you deliver have to be accurate, believable and clear (ABC). This applies whether you email, tweet, meet in person, or send a letter. 

  • Accurate: The information presented to Members and their staff must be accurate. Have sources readily available and be prepared to provide further information after the meeting
  • Believable: Let the information sell itself; explain the possibilities, but do not exaggerate. Credibility is essential. 
  • Clear: Keep the science simply. Remember, few outside the scientific community fully understand the language. When advocating for biomedical research, connect your research to a disease, its causes, and possible cures.

Meeting Your Member of Congress 

Face-to-face meetings

These are an effective way to deliver your message. And, as elected officials, members and their staff meet with constituents regularly. You don’t even have to come to Washington, D.C. to make this happen; you can schedule a visit at the local district office. 

Setting up the Meeting

  •  Use the Find Officials search tool above to identify your Congressman and Senators. This tool will also provide you with a website address and phone numbers.
  • Visit your elected official’s website to see if he/she accepts electronic meeting requests through the site. Fill out the form and submit. 
  • If they do not have an online form, call, then email for an appointment. 
  • Tell the staff member you speak with what you wish to meet about and when. 
  • It is best to call at two to three weeks prior to the time you would like the meeting to occur. 
  • You will most likely have an appointment with a staff member in the office; this person is just as important as the elected official. He/she is tasked with knowing specific issues inside and out and are the eyes and ears of the Congressman. 
  • Preparing for the meeting:

  •  Do your research. Know how the member voted on bills related to research funding or other issues about which you care. Thank them if he/she took an action you like. Use the Society’s policy and advocacy pages to help with your research. 
  • Arrive early and expect to wait a few minutes before the meeting; • Know your message points; practice them out loud. Don’t be too technical, assume you are speaking to educated non-scientists. Review the ABCs of Advocacy above.
  •  Bring materials (brochures, pamphlets, graphs) to leave behind; these state sheets prepared by FASEB showing research funding in a particular district or state, and these sheets prepared by Research!America work well for this. 
  • Make a connection: brother-in-law worked on your campaign, our university’s physics department is the largest in the state, our work could help find a cure for…; 
  • Be responsive, offer to follow up after the meeting with more specific information about questions the Member of Congress has.

    After the meeting: 

  • Send an email thanking the staff member or Congressman after the meeting. Provide any follow-up materials requested. Use this as an opportunity to reinforce your message. 
  • Check in periodically with an email.  Let them know if there is something happening at your organization or in your lab that might interest them.

Attending a Town Hall Meeting

Another great way to meet your member and get your issues on their radar is to attend a town hall meeting and ask a question. Members schedule these throughout the year; sometimes in person and sometimes via phone. Find a town hall meeting near you

Need help? 

The Society office is here to help! Send an email to Ellen Weiss at if you would like assistance preparing for a meeting.