With springtime right around the corner, the nation's capital is preparing for an annual influx of visitors from out of town. But they won't all be coming to see the cherry blossoms. For denizens of Capitol Hill, spring is fly-in season.
ASAE and many other associations will host legislative fly-ins in the next few months to educate lawmakers and their staffs on a wide range of issues. With a new Congress in session, these groups recognize the importance of establishing good working relationships with their elected officials and having contacts on Capitol Hill whom they can trust and who will understand and protect their various interests.
A recent survey of House chiefs of staff cosponsored by ASAE and the nonpartisan Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) gives associations some best practices for ensuring that their fly-ins are successful.
The ASAE-CMF research revealed that a majority of offices (64.4 percent) prefer to receive meeting requests from constituents, not their Washington representation. Most chiefs of staff said the optimal time in advance of a meeting to make the request was three to four weeks.
The survey also strongly suggests that groups visiting the Hill should leave behind a one- or two-page summary of their issue and follow up with an email after their visit. Constituents should have a thorough understanding of the bill or issue they wish to discuss and be prepared to share how the issue would affect their organization and their district or state.