How do members of congress know what we want? The answer is surprisingly simple. We have to tell them. There are a few options: in-person meeting, phone call, letter, Tweet. Their legislative staff monitor these communications. Staff could report to their Member of Congress in under 15 seconds.
Staff: “Hey, we got some letters about including Head Start in the next COVID relief package.”
Member: “How many?”
Staff: “Almost 400.”
But what if the answer to ‘how many?’ had been: “Over 20,000.” That could lead to a very different congressional response: “Wow! Alright, let’s work on it.”
The difference between these two scenarios is all of us. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, Head Start California sent out an action alert, to encourage Congress to include Head Start and Early Head Start funding in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package. Here’s what happened in three numbers.
• 8K: The alert was sent to over 8,000 emails. Head Start programs in California employ over 20,000 people and serve over 100,000 children. Maybe that number should be higher.
• 24: We had responses within 24 hours, and that’s good. Effectiveness in the advocacy world is often about speed. We need to be quick and nimble.
• 4%: 387 people opened the email and took action. 371 people sent a letter and 46 people sent a tweet to a member of congress. How do you feel about that 4%?
It could be much higher. California accounts for more than 10% of all Head Start funding. Our engagement needs to reflect that. If we want Congress to hear us, we need more people in the choir. Let’s not whisper. Let’s step up to the microphone without fear and boldly speak the truth—that Head Start programs are crucial for families in poverty and continue to play an essential role during this pandemic.
Let’s make a new year’s resolution this year that’s meaningful.
1. Sign up for our Phone2Action alert system. (You can do that here.)
2. When an alert comes, respond right away. It’s so easy. The messages and the Congressional contacts are pre-populated. All you have to do is click to send.
3. Encourage every staff person and every parent to sign up.
The process takes seconds. The impact could be millions of dollars. Have you ever heard of a better return on investment?