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How to Ask for Action or Propose Policy On Behalf of a Group
Tasks for Developing Proposals and Petitions
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Requesting Action:
How to Ask for Action or Propose Policy on Behalf of a Group

Below, the goal, objective, scope, and product for a position paper are specified along with a suggested strategy for asking for action or proposing a policy on behalf of a group.


Knowledge of the functions of nongovernmental organizations in public policy processes. Familiarity with nonprofit organizations active in your area of interest.

Communication objective

Petitioning and proposing on behalf of an organization or group.


A group’s charter or purpose often determines the concern or issues that you will address. If not, the scope must take the group’s mission into account.


A brief written policy proposal representing an organization’s advocacy. Length varies according to purposes and situations, but short (one to three pages) is preferred.


Proposals should provide this information:

Desired outcome: a statement of what you want to accomplish, described as if it were already accomplished in a future you want to achieve.

Today’s situation (in contrast to the desired outcome): what’s ‘wrong’ in the present? why is the action you propose needed? what causes the need?

Relevant background: how did the problem arise? what original assumptions are no longer valid? what conditions have changed?

Available options: alternative ways of meeting the need? advantages and disadvantages of each? costs (money, other) of each?

Recommended action: the best alternative, briefly argued as to why.

Summary: results (referring to the desired future) if requested action is performed?

Action items: who is asked to do what, when, where, how?


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Example 1

Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence policy proposal by a nonprofit organization advocating an amendment to proposed legislation. Read more...

Example 2

National Charter School Evaluation memo sets the agenda for a coalition’s lobbying activities. Read more...

Example 3

Two auto safety experts write a petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Read more...