The sgENGAGE Podcast Episode 112: Tips for a Successful Hill Day

Hill Days, also known as “fly-ins,” are an important part of social good organizations’ advocacy strategies in the U.S., bringing their supporters together to speak with their members of Congress to advocate for priority issues and legislation. Preparation is key for these fly-in days to be successful. So, what’s the best way to prepare for a meeting with a member of congress? How can people working in the social good community make sure that elected officials prioritize their concerns? That’s what today’s guest is here to talk about.

Sandra Swirski, co-founder of the D.C. based advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates, has helped many charitable organizations and nonprofits run awareness campaigns, build coalitions and advocate their priorities to members of Congress. Tune in to hear Sandra talk with Sally Ehrenfried, Blackbaud’s principal government relations leader, about what makes a meeting with a legislator successful, how to prepare to walk into a meeting, and how to follow up after a meeting.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • What makes a meeting successful from an elected official’s perspective
  • What makes a meeting successful from the social sector’s perspective
  • Scheduling meetings with legislators
  • How to prepare your organization and advocates for Hill meetings
  • Deciding on your key messages
  • What to say to fly-in participants who are disappointed to meet with congressional staff than with their representatives or senators
  • Resources for training and developing talking points
  • How to research before talking to elected officials
  • Following-up after meetings to continue the conversations

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Sandra Swirski


“What I do in Washington, generally, is I translate what is happening in Washington to the donor community and then I help donors translate what they do and their concerns to Congress.”

“I also find that the more gracious and firmer you are, the more likely you are to get what you want.”

“Always start with timely, because that is very important to the member. That they will naturally be able to act on.”