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Champion Your Cause With Elected Officials

Take the time to customize your letter or e-mail rather than just sending a form letter provided by an advocacy group. Staffers keep track of the number of form letters they receive, but if you customize your letter with a personal story that illustrates why you or your neighbors care about the issue, it’s more likely that staffers will read it and circulate it around the office. You might even be giving your legislators ammunition to help spread the word themselves, said Kush, author of The One-Hour Activist. "They need your stories to talk to the media, to other legislators, and to give floor speeches," he said. "Numbers do make a difference, however, so you’ll have a greater impact if you’re working with other activists who are contacting legislators asking for the same thing at the same time."

Tip: Your pleas will reach members of Congress faster if you e-mail them or write directly to their district offices in your home state. Sending a letter to a legislator’s office in Washington, D.C., may take an extra two to four weeks to because of post-9/11 security procedures.

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