States Parties 161
States Not Party 36
Who do you write to? Answer this quiz to help work out who you should be targeting.
You may decide to write to secondary rather than the primary target i.e. not the person who has the decision-making power but someone else who can influence them. For example, you may write to an advisor or Member of Parliament asking them in turn to influence their Minister.
Once you've settled on a target, it will be easier to work out the tone and message of your letter. Contact by letter is most effective if it is based on a relationship with the person. Ideally you will keep writing to the same person. But be flexible -- if the situation changes or you are having no luck with one contact, you may choose to lobby someone else.
Get it right!
Make sure you spell the official's name and title correctly. Be sure to use the right salutation or form of address. This will vary from country to country and, if in doubt check with their office first.
Get supporters to write
Encourage members of the public and active supporters to write letters by including sample letters and addresses in your newsletter, posting letters on your websites, organising letter-writing evenings, setting up tables and inviting members of the public to sign letters or postcards.
Remember your audience
Letters should address your target's interests and concerns directly. Make it clear how they will benefit from your suggestion e.g. more votes or public recognition for taking a stand and distinguish your message very clearly from those of others e.g. by referring to your previous meeting with the target.
Ask for something specific
If appropriate, ask the decision-maker to do something concrete. For example ask them to vote for a bill, ask questions in parliament, contact a particular minister or government leader on your behalf, invite you to address a hearing or use their influence on another party or individual. Be sure to include your contact information so that they can get back to you.
The most effective letters are individually written or typed. So, even if you use a standard letter as the basis for your own, add in your own words or perspective. Also, consider hand writing the letter or at least write out the first and last lines ("Dear... and "Yours faithfully...") and use your own stationery if you're writing in your personal capacity.
Email or snail mail?
Check first how you should send your letter. Some decision-makers do not use email regularly and don't place much value on email correspondence. In some countries the postal system doesn't work very well and faxes are unreliable.
If you don't like the response you receive then write back.
High impact letters
These are from a well-known person such as a religious leader, politician, Nobel laureate, member of the royal family, musician or movie star.
Letters from groups
Landmine survivors, military veterans, prominent religious leaders or other sectors in the community sign a letter to a lobbying target.
A copy of a lobbying letter is sent to newspapers for printing in letters pages, quoting in news articles or to run as an advertisement. This technique is particularly effective when the letter is signed by a respected group or individual.
A campaign is launched to invite the public to write and sign a lobbying letter. These can be based on sample letters or utilise pre-printed postcards. Even if sample letters are used, do encourage campaigners to personalise their letter as much as possible as they will have more impact. Note that, for maximum effectiveness, you will need to generate high numbers of letters. This is a good way to raise awareness and give members and the general public a practical way to support our work for a mine-free world.
What to say in the letter?
Having researched your target and the subject, you should have a good idea about your message.
A typical letter would include:
Here are some useful websites for setting up and maintaining your contact data. (Be sure to double-check before running a letter-writing campaign.)
Real-life examples of lobbying letters from ICBL campaigners, staff and supporters, to inspire you! Read these letters to: