What is the Definition of Grassroots Lobbying?

Grassroots lobbying is when everyday citizens contact their own legislators to try to influence legislation and policy. Advocacy groups of all kinds engage in grassroots lobbying, asking their members to call and write their legislators about a piece of legislation. Most people will never contact their legislators, but anyone can pick up the phone and ask their senator or representative to support or oppose a pending bill.

Why Should I Contact My Legislators?

It’s important to let your legislators know where you stand, because the number of emails, letters, or phone calls on each side of an issue will be an important indication of where people stand and frequently influence how a legislator will vote on a bill. Grassroots lobbying is very effective because the legislators are hearing directly from their constituency, who will be voting the next time they are up for re-election. It's important to remember that you hold the power! You're their boss. 

Which Legislators Do I Need to Contact?

If we’re addressing a state-level issue, you only need to contact your state senator and state representative. If you’re not sure who your state senator and state representative are, visit the  Official Missouri State Website to find out. We might ask you to contact other office holders, depending on your location, and we'll be sure to provide you with their contact information when we do. 

How Do I Contact Legislators?

This depends on what time of year it is. If the legislature is in session (typically January – May) you can contact your legislator at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. Any other time of year you’ll need to try to contact your legislators at home. You can find contact information for most of the state senators and representatives on the  Official Missouri State Website However, some legislators choose to not publish their contact information. We find this troubling. The people elect these lawmakers to represent them in the Capitol. They ought to be easy to get a hold of. But some are not. If your legislator does not publish their contact information on the Missouri State Website, once you do get in touch with them please ask them to correct that. If you’re unable to find contact information for your legislator, call the Capitol general phone and ask for advice: 573-751-2854.

If you are planning to visit the Capitol in Jefferson City, you can contact your legislator’s office and ask for an appointment. They will ask which issue you would like to discuss, and chances are, they will meet with you. Even if you just find yourself walking past the Capitol Building, you should feel free to drop in and speak with your legislator or their staff person. They are there to serve you, the constituent.

What Do I Say to Legislators?

When you send a fax or an email, be sure to provide your contact information, including your street address, so that they can respond to you and they will know that you are constituent. State your position clearly and politely – do you want the legislator to support the bill, or oppose it? Try to keep the message short. Briefly state in a paragraph or two why you support or oppose the bill. Write a separate message for each bill, so that your message will get forwarded to the correct aide who handles that issue.

If you call their offices, an aide or receptionist may take a short message and may ask for your contact information. The receptionists need to answer many phone calls every day, and just want to know whether you support or oppose the bill. They usually will not need or want to hear an explanation. If you’d like to submit more information, it’s better to send a fax, an email, or a hard copy.

Want to do more for animals in your community? Use these resources to become a better grassroots advocate.

An Advocate’s Guide to Stopping Puppy Mills

Attend Town Meetings

Calling Elected Officials

Do's and Don'ts of Lobbying

Getting to Know Your Elected Officials

Legislative Lingo

Meeting With Your Elected Officials

Tips for Successful Lobbying

Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor