William T. Harris, CEO of Space Center Houston, meets with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) during Museums Advocacy Day.

Strong relationships with your Members of Congress can help ensure that science and technology centers and museums are included favorably in any Federal legislation. This includes the annual Federal appropriations process that provides funding for the many Federal agencies who support our community—as well as during emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, new national investments in scientific research, and major education laws.

Tips for Congressional Outreach

  • Relationships matter. If you have a specific contact or existing relationship with your Members of Congress or their staff, reach out to them first. Don’t forget about your Trustees and Board members—they may have relationships as well.
  • Avoid technical complications. When using your Representatives’ and Senators’ web contact forms, note that these forms only accept plain text, i.e., no formatting and no attachments.
  • A phone call can be powerful. In additional to an email, consider calling your elected official’s Washington, D.C. or district office (or both).
  • Think inclusively about your geographic range. Members of Congress care about how many of their constituents your institution impacts. Even though your institution is located in one Congressional district, it surely serves a much broader population around your state and region.
    • If you can cite specific visitor and program attendance data, include it in your communications!
  • Look for opportunities for collective advocacy. Your voice is stronger with others. Reach out to your fellow cultural institutions, nonprofits, or education organizations in your local region or state, as they may share your concerns. If you belong to other national associations, which may have state affiliates, you can plug into their advocacy efforts.
  • Engage on social media. Many elected officials have an active social media presence. Tag them when sharing your message on social media, and thank them for any time they spend with you. Find the Twitter handles for Members of Congress here.
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