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10 Tips for Lobbying for Preservation

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These 10 tips will help you become an effective lobbyist for preservation issues at any level of government.

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10 Tips for Lobbying for Preservation

  2. 2. 1. Do your research Look up the pertinent members of the House of Representatives and Senate to find out what types of historic resources are in their districts, what interests they have, what committees they sit on, and where they stand on preservation-related legislation. Also research what your state, tribal, and local preservation organizations are doing.
  3. 3. 2. Consider your timing The best time to lobby is when a representative or senator is considering writing or sponsoring a bill that will benefit preservation. If you make your position known at this stage, you have a greater opportunity to influence the legislation.
  4. 4. 3. Make a specific request Any contact with your legislative members should include a clear statement of the action you would like them to take. Possible actions include introducing a bill, becoming a cosponsor, voting in committee or on the floor in favor of a bill or amendment, or contacting another key member.
  5. 5. 4. Have accurate info on hand It’s important to know as much as possible about the bills you’re lobbying for. Your case will be improved if you use accurate, factual material to substantiate your position, and this groundwork will be reflected when your representative or senator makes an informed decision on an issue. You may also want to provide rebuttals to arguments your opponents are making on the issue.
  6. 6. 5. Use real-life, local examples Connect the legislative issue you are discussing with examples of how it will benefit historic resources in your community, such as naming the historic districts and buildings that would benefit from historic tax credits. Only you can make it real and relevant for your legislators.
  7. 7. 6. Establish an ongoing relationship Check with your member’s offices on a regular basis, not just when you need them to do something. Invite them to local events and keep them informed of local preservation issues and updates. Ideally, the offices will eventually reach out to you for advice and information on preservation issues.
  8. 8. 7. Contact the D.C. Office Your first communication to the Washington, D.C. office of a member of Congress is likely to be directed to the legislative assistant who handles preservation issues. To help your case, provide concise, well- organized presentations, including material on how the issue plays out in that member’s district.
  9. 9. 8. Contact your district office Senators may have six or so offices around their state. A congressman in a small district would only have one; in a larger district, two or three. While staff members who work in the district office are not directly involved in the legislative process, they are more readily accessible and familiar with local issues. The member’s schedule in his home district is usually arranged by these offices as well. Use them often!
  10. 10. 9. Remember to hit all levels of government Although federal laws have a tremendous impact on preservation, the success or failure of preservation may be determined at the local level. Fortunately, all of the same rules apply; lobbying is lobbying, regardless of the office the elected official holds.
  11. 11. 10. Polish your communications Whether lobbying in person or by email, phone, or letter, remember to identify yourself. Be succinct with your request. Ask specific questions. State your position on the issues. Have your research on hand. Keep your exchanges short and to the point. Always follow up on any questions or requests. And most importantly -- say thank you!
  12. 12. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org. Photos courtesy: www.glynlowe.com/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Moyan Brenn/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Karen P/Flickr CC BY-ND-ND-2.0; Stephen D/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Jeremy Brooks/Flickr CC BY-NC- 2.0; Nicolas Henderson/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Kevin Dooley/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Nicholas Raymond/Flickr CC BY-2.0; Wally Gobetz/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0; Harshil Shah/Flickr CC BY- ND-2.0; Evan Forester/Flickr CC BY-2.0.