Volunteering with Common Cause
Common Cause welcomes volunteers to join our "Washington Connection" program at our national headquarters in downtown DC. The Washington Connection volunteers work with Common Cause activists across the country to build grassroots pressure on elected officials on critical issues. We also welcome volunteers who would like to help with administrative tasks in our human resources, accounting or membership services departments.
(Many of our state offices also welcome volunteers. Please contact your state office directly to find out about current opportunities.)
The Washington Connection volunteer program runs every day during office hours. Currently, most volunteers work a shift between 10am and 4pm on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. At certain times of the year, we also run phonebanks after 5pm. We welcome whatever time you can give to support our grassroots efforts.
Our national office is located at 1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor, in downtown Washington DC. We are a short walk from the Dupont Circle, Farragut West and Farragut North metro stops.
Answers to frequently asked questions appear below. Please contact Betty Brossy at (202) 833-1200 if you would like to know more about volunteering.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Washington Connection?
The Washington Connection is an integral part of the grassroots effort here at Common Cause. It consists of volunteers and interns at the national headquarters who act as a liaison between what's happening in DC and our grassroots activities in the states.
The role of the Connection is essentially to communicate with individual Common Cause members to urge them to take action. This is accomplished mainly through phone banking of our member lists. Common Cause also uses e-mails to send alerts and options for actions, but phone banking is still our most prominent and successful way of reaching members. The purpose of the phone banking is always to encourage action-- volunteers are never asked to solicit money from members.
In essence, the Washington Connection volunteers translate the "inside" story to the outside world, triggering the Common Cause grassroots lobbying effort. The volunteers also collect and pass on to our lobbyists at the Capitol information provided by Common Cause activists around the country about what Members of Congress are saying to constituents back home on our issues. This flow of information to and from Common Cause members through the Washington Connection is what has made Common Cause's "inside/outside" lobbying activity so successful over the years.
There are countless examples of times when the Washington Connection has been pivotal to our success. With the landmark McCain-Feingold legislation of 2002, the volunteers of the Washington Connection were instrumental in getting the message to our members who went on to pressure their Senators and Representatives into passing the bill.
In June of 2005 the Washington Connection helped gather together over 50 people (some members, others not) who were willing to come to Washington on their own dime to lobby their congressman to pass HR 550, an amendment to the Help America Vote Act which would require voter-verifiable paper trails. Lobby days like this would not have been possible without the devotion of our volunteers.
In January to April 2007 the Washington Connection made calls and lobbied in Annapolis to build grassroots pressure around the Maryland legislature to pass full public financing for state elections. It made it through the House and within 1 vote in the Senate. This was a major achievement in the midst of a major state budget deficit and we are confident that we can get that extra vote in the next legislative session.
How Do Volunteers Contribute to Common Cause?
• Lobby public officials - use your knowledge and passion for politics on the Hill and in state capitals.
• Grassroots Advocacy - work with our members over the phone, and in person to make a difference.
• Research Issues to help educate our members and to advance our issue campaigns
• Support staff in the office - many of our volunteers are professionals from the public and private sectors.
Common Cause volunteers in DC are very important to the process of keeping the state offices and members in those states up to date on what is happening. Volunteers help organize, educate, and mobilize members across the country via phone, written correspondence and e-mail. They keep local activists informed with up-to-the-minute legislative information and mobilize these members to write, call, or meet with their Member of Congress on a particular Common Cause issue. There are also a large number of other important activities to volunteer for. If you're looking to put your skills to use, we can use them.
What Hours Do Volunteers Work?
We have a very flexible volunteer program. Many volunteers come in at 10:30am on Tuesdays for a briefing and discussion with staff on issues of the day at Common Cause so that they are ready to engage in that work.
After working in the morning, there is a brown-bag lunch with the other volunteers and we try to bring in speakers as often as possible. Speakers are usually prominent professionals from the democratic reform community or even volunteers with exciting careers in the Foreign Service, business or government.
Most volunteers leave by mid-afternoon to beat the metro-rush and traffic.
We also welcome volunteers who work during the day but want to spend an hour or two making calls to members (many of whom are best reached between 5 and 8pm). We make this a fun and interesting experience too. Staff often join in the evening calls and it can be a good chance to meet people with a shared passion for good government reforms that lead to good public policy.
As a volunteer, you are welcome to work as much or as little as you like, and we will work with your schedule to find times that are best for you.
How Do Volunteers Learn About the Issues?
To keep the volunteers informed, Common Cause provides informational clips and produces a weekly memo that outlines all of our grassroots work for the week, and what the important current issues are. In addition to this, there is a volunteer briefing put on by experts from Common Cause. These experts discuss what they are doing and how the volunteers might be asked to help. The office is also very open to mingling between volunteers and staff, so if you have further questions please talk with staff.
What Qualifications Do I Need to be a Volunteer?
No specific qualifications are needed to be a volunteer. An interest in politics and current events, as well as a personable, positive attitude, and a desire to help are all important to being a successful volunteer. If you have a skill that you want to use we will work to find a way to make a difference with it.