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Advocacy Toolkit

Ask for What You Want

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It can be tempting to try to educate your legislators on stroke survivor issues. However, this approach rarely succeeds because it is often difficult to get someone’s attention for the sole purpose of education. Asking for something specific is the best way to gain and maintain your legislators’ attention. Your goal as an advocate is to get legislators and their staffs to think about stroke survivor issues for longer than five minutes. Making a specific “ask” helps you achieve that goal.

There are essentially two kinds of asks – relationship-building asks and policy asks.

Relationship-Building Asks

Relationship-building asks are important for a couple reasons: first, they make it easier for you to get your legislators to support future policy asks and second, they are an effective way to get them to continue thinking about your issues.

Think of your asks along a spectrum from easy to hard. Easy asks are those that have a low cost (in time and money), limited opposition and high self-benefit for your legislator. Hard asks are those that require your legislator to take a position that might be controversial.

Too often, advocates start with the hard ask (e.g., will you support funding for a specific program?) without having first built a relationship with the legislator/office through easy asks. It’s fine to go ahead with the hard ask – legislators expect it – but you’ll find that you’re more successful in your communications if you make some easy asks along the way.

Following are some more creative asks you might want to consider as you develop relationships with your elected officials. Ask your legislators to:

  • Make a community visit that relates to your ask, such as a stroke survivor support group meeting or a rehabilitation center.
  • Meet with you and other stroke supporters in the district office.
  • Write an article for your stroke-related newsletter.
  • Submit a statement for your website or participate in an online discussion.
  • Make a statement on the House or Senate floor about stroke survivor issues.
  • Hold or attend a town hall or community meeting about stroke.

Policy Asks

Policy asks are about specific legislative or policy initiatives and relate to a legislator’s official position. Following are some examples of appropriate and inappropriate policy asks.

Appropriate Asks

Inappropriate Asks

(What legislators can’t do)

  • Introduce, vote for or vote against legislation.
  • Cosponsor legislation introduced by someone else.
  • Send a letter to an agency about a concern you have.
  • Send a letter to another legislator in an influential position, such as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
  • Submit a statement to the Congressional Record.
  • Take a specific action in favor of you or your organization.
  • Support legislation that is not in their jurisdiction.
  • House members cannot support Senate legislation and vice-versa.
  • Federal legislators cannot support state-level legislation.
  • Demand that a federal agency award you a particular grant.

Specific policy asks that support the goals of the Stroke Advocacy Network are posted in the form of Action Alerts. View pending Alerts and ask your elected officials to take action to support the stroke community today!


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