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. Once you have gathered signatures, you will send your petition to your target. If that person/organization refuses to change, then consider targeting others who might influence them. Possibilities include:
The board of directors of your congregation
Local or national legislators
City or community officials
Your school principal
Local newspapers, TV or radio stations
Local or national businesses
International organizations, such as the U.N.
Show People How Your Cause Affects People’s Lives—Others’ and Their Own
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 Petition That Makes People Want to Sign
A good petition summary has:
- A 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 to do so, include two or three brief facts that show why your petition is important.
- Final call to action: One final sentence
- Grammar and spelling that you have checked. People take a petition seriously when it is well written.
Write an Effective Letter to Send, with Signed Petitions, to Your Target
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.
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 SPELL CHECK: You want to look professional. Typos will keep your target from taking you seriously.