The Internet and e-mail have made it easier and cheaper than ever before for citizens to communicate with their Members of Congress. In 2004, Congress received 200 million communications, four times more than in 1995 -- the direct result of Internet-based communications. This increased citizen participation in the legislative process has had both positive and negative effects. Nearly 80% of congressional staff surveyed believe that the Internet has made it easier for constituents to become involved in public policy. However, neither the senders nor the receivers of congressional communications have learned how to use the new tools that the Internet has provided truly effectively.
This report is the first of a three part Communicating with Congress series, which aims to provide information and guidance that will lead to better and more meaningful communications between Members of Congress and those they represent.
CwC: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy
Read the full report: CWC_CapitolHillCoping (754 KB)
- Summary of Key Findings
- Selected Charts
- Summary of Implications for Citizens and Grassroots Organizations
- Summary of Implications for Congress
Copyright 2005 by the Congressional Management Foundation
- CMF Letter to the Editor regarding Washington Post article "Constituents' E-Mail on XM Deal Not Well Received"
- Roll Call Guest Observer Column - "The Best and Worst of Supreme Court Grassroots Campaigns" - December 7, 2005
- Roll Call Editorial - "Feedback Loop" - July 20, 2005
- Online Tutorial for Grassroots Organizations
About the Communicating with Congress Project
- Project Overview - In 2001, CMF began work on this project to improve communications between citizens and Members of Congress.
- How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy - A report on congressional staffs' views of constituent communications based on focus groups, interviews, and surveys of 350 House and Senate Staff in 200 offices.
- Conference on Constituent Communications: Dispelling Myths and Discussing Solutions - A forum in which more than 200 experts and stakeholders from both sides came together to share perspectives and discuss possible solutions.
- How the Internet Has Changed Citizen Engagement - A report on citizens' views on communicating with Congress based on nationwide telephone and online surveys of citizens.
- Recommendations for Improving the Democratic Dialogue - This report is the culmination of CMF's nine years of research, outreach, and study, with recommendations for all stakeholders on how to improve communication between citizens and Congress.
- Navigating the Rising Tide of Grassroots Advocacy - CMF offers educational presentations for grassroots/advocacy organizations on the topic of how to effectively communicate with Congress.