I'm just a bill/Yes, I'm only a bill
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will
But today I am still just a bill. --SchoolHouse Rock, 1970
I went on my first "hill visit" last month. I was very excited about educating our congressman on the challenges nonprofits face. I didn't know how naive I was until I sat in his office.
First, although we had an appointment, we were greeted by an "aide" with a notepad. No actual congressman face time. Second, there was no spark of interest until we described (in detail) what work we were doing in HIS district. So what about city-wide services, just tell me about mine!; Third, the aide did not write anything on the notepad (although she held her pen at the ready) UNTIL we mentioned a specific piece of legislation in committee. She eagerly wrote down the numbers of the bills in question.
As I left I realized that she hadn't heard a word of our "message" and didn't have any better understanding of the challenges facing our nonprofit, than before our visit.
Disheartened at first, I realize now that there was an important moral to that story. Want change? Work with legislature to put it into a bill. If it becomes a law...then voila...you have legal validation of your work (and maybe funding as well).
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