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HANDOUT 1: How to Write a Good Petition

Adapted from The Petition Site website.

If a petition is not clear and well presented, then people will not want to sign it. To create a good petition, you should:

Set an Achievable Goal

A clear goal that you can actually achieve will make it easier for people to sign onto your petition. Having too many goals, or trying to do too much with one petition, can make it hard to communicate your point and may confuse people.

Select an Effective Target

A target is a person, position, or organization that can make your goal happen. If that person/organization refuses to change, then consider those who might influence him/her/them. Possibilities include:

The board of directors of your congregation

Local or national legislators

City or community officials

Local newspapers, TV or radio stations

Local or national businesses

International organizations, such as the U.N.

Show People How Your Cause Affects Them

As a result, they will be more likely to take action. Also, when your issue is in the news, take advantage of the fact and gather signatures as quickly as you can.

Write a Summary That Makes People Want to Sign

A good petition summary contains the following:

Call to action: Tell people right away why they are signing, within the first or second sentence.

Background information: Provide one or two sentences of background information.

Supporting facts: If it makes sense, include a short list of 2—3 facts supporting your petition's appeal. You should assume most people don't have the time to read all your information, so be brief.

Final Call to Action: One Sentence Restating Your Call to Action.

DON'T FORGET TO SPELLCHECK! A poorly written petition filled with spelling and grammar mistakes will take away from the credibility of your petition.

Write an Effective Letter to Send to Your Target

Be polite: Don't attack your target. They won't listen to your petition unless you are polite and respectful.

Make your purpose clear: Be sure to state what you want the target to do at the beginning of the letter.

Provide details: Tell your target why you want them to do this, and support your statement with facts. However, don't make the letter too long, or your target won't read it.

Proofread and SPELLCHECK: You want to look professional. Typos will keep your target from taking you seriously.

Make sure you're sending it to the right person: You don't want to do all the work and then find out that your target has nothing to do with the decision-making process for your issue.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, October 20, 2014.

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