Letter Writing Campaigns; How To

By An Ontario Beekeeper

This manual tells you how to communicate with your elected officials. It shows how to get the most pieces of mail to them in the easiest, and most economical way. Our organization has moved between fifteen and twenty thousand individual pieces of mail in the last four years using this method.

  1. Write A Letter: Write down the points you want to cover on a scrap piece of paper. Then use these "brainstormed" notes to write your letter. You may find you have enough points for two or more letters. Do not sign the letter yet. Address the letter to "Dear Senator" or "Dear Sir or Madam" etc.
  2. Getting Your Point Across: Be polite and brief. Politicians get a lot of mail. To increase the chances of it being read, try to limit your letter to one page, or about 300 words. Three paragraphs of three sentences are ideal. Use a font size of 12 or above to make reading it easier.

    Note: Some people in your club would love to send a letter, but donít feel they can write well enough to do so. Patiently encourage these people to try harder. You might want to try helping them by doing most of the writing. This is called getting a "sponsor" for the letter. Make sure they read the letter they are going to sign, and make any corrections they wish. You wouldnít want to send in something they donít agree with. Make sure they keep a copy for their records.

  3. Photocopying: Do not sign the letter prior to copying. Sign each one afterwards, preferably in an ink which contrasts slightly with the black photocopy toner. Blue works best. This shows the politician you have personally signed each and every letter. He/she will think this must be an important subject to motivate you to do that.
  4. Signing each page can take up to an hour. Have a friend help by placing each letter in front of you and then stacking it after you have signed it. This saves time. Take periodic breaks to prevent your signature from deteriorating into an axe murdererís.

    If you are doing a letter for a "sponsor" take the letters to his/her place, sit down with them and do this then and there. DO NOT leave the stack of letters there for them to sign later. They never do; "to busy", "didnít have time", "next week, I promise".

    Alternatively, you can address the letter to one specific politician, sign it, then make enough copies for his/her fellow Senators, MPís or whatever. At the bottom of the letter you can then put: c.c. All Senate Members (or whatever body you are sending it to.) This is not as effective.

    Current Numbers: Senate- 100 members, House of Commons- 301 members, Ontario Provincial Parliament- 85 conservative members. Always make 3 or 4 extras.

  5. Folding and Stuffing: Buy envelopes in quantities of 500 from Business Barn or Office Place to save money. Use a #10, business, white paper envelope. Current cost is under $7 for 500.

Set up an assembly line; Portion these tasks out as manpower permits.

a) A couple of people fold the letter. (5-7 letters can be folder at the same time, one on top of another and then separated at the next stage.)

b) They then pass the letters to people stuffing the envelopes. ("cock" the envelopes first by stacking them with all the flaps folded up and away from the back of the envelope.)

c) They pass the full envelope on to people who moisten the gum (use the roller moisteners available from stationery stores for $1.50).

d) They pass it on to people who actually seal the flap. (breaking this into to stages keeps the "gummers" hands from getting sticky and spoiling the envelope.)

e) The now sealed envelope then goes to another stage were it has an address label affixed to it. (these are made on a computer) Note: This can be done as step "a" above.

f) Mail them. Remember Ė you can mail letters to the House and the Senate for free. Just drop them in the mail! Getting mail to a provincial legislature is cheaply done by using a courier service like UPS to send them as a bundle to the legislatureís central mail room for distribution. Alternatively, if your local MPP is friendly to your cause Ė take the envelopes to him/her for delivery through their parliamentary courier.

Keep track of any responses that come in. Make note of any that are in favour of your cause and those who are not. Write back with an appropriate response either thanking them or correcting them.

The above 5 stages can be done by one person in about five hours (not including letter composition) for a full mailing (Senate, House, MPPís), but it is recommended that it be done in a group at your clubís weekly meeting. You are meeting weekly to fight this, arenít you? While you are at it, why not change the letter slightly so it can be sent as a letter to the editor as well?

For a current mailing list of the House, Senate and Ontario Legislature, ready to be put through onto labels please contact our Webmaster via email.