The Lunch & Learn provides an opportunity for you to have a meaningful dialogue with your local policymakers and other influencers about your work in the community. It’s an opportunity to build relationships and demonstrate value, as well as explore any potential issues of concern and how local leaders might assist. Typical guests may include policymakers and their staff who represent your community at the local, state or federal levels such as:
- Local elected leaders and their staff such as mayors, city councilmembers or county supervisors
- State elected officials who represent your community
- Members of Congress who represent your community
- State regulators and staff from the California Public Utilities Commission or State Water Resources Control Board
Guests also may include influencers with a stake in or opportunity to impact your organization, such as:
Civic leaders and news media
- Other local elected officials (not listed above), such as Sheriffs and District Attorneys
- Local service organizations, such as Kiwanis or Elks Club
- Local news organizations
- Chambers of commerce
- Major businesses that are influential in the community/have a strong history of community service and leadership
- Business-oriented service organizations, such as Rotary
Influential community organizations
- Larger homeowner’s associations
- Senior organizations or larger senior communities
- Agricultural organizations, such as the County Farm Bureau
- Military organizations
- Faith-based organizations
Inviting a diversity of guests
You can include a diversity of guests and policymakers from all levels— there is no “correct” combination. But you will need to think carefully about the specific messages, calls to action and issues to be discussed in order to ensure they are tailored and relevant to each guest.
Tip: When are policymakers more likely to be available to participate?
- State and Federal schedules: Review Congressional and State Legislative calendars to help set your Lunch & Learn date. The fall recess between Legislative sessions is the best time of year to invite policymakers to participate, since they are more likely to be working in their districts during weekdays and on the weekends. If your Lunch & Learn falls during either State or Federal Legislative sessions, Thursday and Friday evenings are best for State Legislators. Fridays and Saturdays at any time of day are best for Congressional members.
- Local Government Schedules: Review local government websites for calendars related to County Supervisors and City Council members.
How to invite policymakers?
Initial invitations can be made in person or over the phone, several weeks in advance of your proposed timeframe, ideally by a colleague or acquaintance of a particular policymaker. Consider your network — is someone personally connected with a particular elected or staff member? Cold calling can work too, but you are more likely to get a positive response from a personal phone call or in-person drop by. The higher up the person doing the inviting, the better the outcome. You are less likely to be sent to the general public inbox or leave a message on a general voicemail.
Be prepared to discuss Lunch & Learn specifics, including information about the agenda, topics to be discussed and other invited guests. Once the initial request is made, follow up with a written invitation letter and formal request for an RSVP (see Policymaker Invitation Letter Template). Include with your letter a packet of compelling information about your utility. Then, follow up with the policymaker’s scheduler or executive assistant to check the status of the invitation request. Contact information can be found at the policymaker’s website.