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Why Patch-Through Calls Work

Activists wish that getting their issues taken seriously by elected officials was as easy as sending an email, but that rarely gets the job done. Real stories from real people aren’t as cheap as cookie-cutter emails, but the reactions they receive from their elected officials are priceless.

Patch-Through calls are an effective tool in advocacy outreach because they give constituents a direct line to the elected officials making decisions on their behalf. If you’re looking to learn more about what Patch-Through calls are and when to use them visit The Campaign Workshop’s blog here.


The Problem with Writing to your Elected Official

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A study by Shayna Englin and Stefan Hankin titled “The Advocacy Gap” indicated that what legislators need from advocacy groups is direct contact with their constituents. A dozen personal stories from constituents on why they should vote “yes” on a bill can be significantly more effective than thousands of identical emails about the same issue. The study found that even though advocacy groups know emails are the least effective form of communication, they keep urging people to send them anyway.


With a little help from Stones’ Phones, constituents connect directly to their legislator and get a response immediately. Plus, the response they get from the legislative office will be personalized, not a generic one sent back to hundreds of other emails on the same subject.

According to a study on Congressional Communication by the Congressional Management Foundation, those scripted email responses can take anywhere from a few days to more than 9 weeks to be sent. That’s if you get a response – thousands of emails are forgotten daily due to the fact that legislative offices don’t have the time or resources to look at them all, let alone act on each one.


What does Work?

What Congressional Offices need is a personal and specific story about an issue’s impact in their district. The more direct and tangible the contact is, the harder it is for the legislator to do nothing.


Englin and Hankin found that other than talking face to face, phone calls are the hardest form of contact to ignore and therefore much more effective than writing. Specifically, telling your legislator exactly how they can help you has an enormous impact on their response. A former chief of staff’s suggestion was that advocacy groups instruct the people being patched through to name their issue, the legislation on it, and how they want their legislator to vote.


How Stones’ Phones Can Help

Patch-through program are a great resource for your campaign or organization. Calls go out, describe the problem in the legislator’s district or state, and ask voters if they would like to be patched through to their representative to give a personal statement about the problem.

These call programs can be delivered over long periods of time or just before the vote, whether it is over a few days or even weeks. As we said in our 18 Ways to Improve Patch-Through Calls blog, doing patch-through programs well before the issue comes up makes a Legislative Office pay more attention to it. This ensures that the legislative office receives a consistent amount of calls for a significant period of time about the issue, resulting in a clear call to action by real people with real stories, which cannot be ignored by a representative.


Patch Through Calls Empowering Constituents to Advocate for Change

If you are struggling to gain traction with elected officials on a particular issue, this is an excellent means of harnessing the power of everyday citizens to bring attention to your issue. Patch-Through calls can help you achieve your legislative goals by educating and empowering constituents to share their stories about matters that affect them directly.

Let’s take a look at some of the most recent effective Patch-Through programs and how they made a difference:


The Fight for Marriage Equality:

The Human Rights Campaign’s Respect for Marriage Act. When the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was reversed, the future of LGBTQ+ and interracial marriage equality was thrown into question. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) took action once the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) was reintroduced in Congress. HRC launched a series of Patch-Through programs to secure votes in favor of the RFMA, connecting nearly 12,000 people with their Senators to voice their support. The pressure worked, and the Senate passed the bill in November, with President Biden signing it into law.


These effective campaigns don’t arise overnight— they’re the culmination of years of mobilization. HRC has been using patch calls for well over a decade to keep marriage equality at the forefront of officials’ minds.


“Patch calls can put the pressure on the Senate when it matters most,” said Stones’ Phones Senior Account Executive Shabbir Husain, “but in order to maintain that level of overwhelming support and enthusiasm each day before a vote – that requires years of groundwork and messaging.”


Saving Telehealth:

The American Heart Association’s Telehealth Expansion Act. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of telehealth into sharp focus, but when threats emerged that it would end, the American Heart Association (AHA) sprang into action, even though they were told the issue was “dead” two weeks prior. In their efforts to assure online healthcare was still effective, efficient, and accessible to communities where healthcare is limited, the AHA partnered with Stones’ Phones to launch a Patch-Through program that targeted the most influential Senate and House members.


Over the course of their program they sent over 250 constituents’ voices to the targeted offices to urge them to not let telehealth expire. Thanks to this Patch-Through effort, the Telehealth Expansion Act was extended for two years, giving millions of people access to life-saving medical care online. Our friends at the American Heart Association said they do not believe this issue could have been revived without the help of these Patch-Through calls.


Protecting Pregnant Workers:

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act. Working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the course of three years, Stones’ Phones helped pass basic rights for pregnant Americans. The ACLU launched a Patch-Through program targeting Republican Senators who opposed the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA). Over 10,000 calls were made in support of the PWFA, and the pressure paid off, with the bill being passed into law.


“PWFA was passed … and every little bit got us across the finish line” said Barrington Gore, Senior Organizing Advisor at the ACLU. Unwavering pressure coming from constituents is what made so many Senators flip on this bipartisan issue. We helped generate over 10,000 calls to members of Congress in support of the PWFA.

These examples show just how powerful Patch-Through calls can be in advocating for important causes. By connecting constituents directly with decision-makers, Patch-Through calls put the power of the people on full display, showing that ordinary citizens can make a real impact on the world around them.


If you’re looking for a way to put pressure on key legislators about an issue you care about, Patch Through Calls are an excellent place to start. Stones’ Phones has honed the best techniques to get the most out of your Patch-Through Program, and our results speak for themselves. If you’re interested in launching your own Patch-Through campaign, we’d be happy to help you get started. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help you make a difference!

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