How-To Guides

To make it easier for you to fulfil your commitments, our team has put together these guides to assist you to take action!

Write a convincing letter to the editor

One way to make your voice heard is to write to a newspaper or magazine about your views on poverty and what can be done about it.

Letters to the editor are likely to be published if:

  • they are the best representation of what many people have said in other letters
  • they make a good and relevant point

In any event, they must be short and to the point. Keep your letter under 150 words. Two or three sentences may be enough.

You may have more luck getting your letter published if it is a reply or response to an article or letter that has been published in that paper. You may also be successful if your letter is about governmental policy or a new initiative.

Here are some tips that will be sure to help you get your letter published:

  • Stick to one subject per letter
     
  • Avoid simple statements like "poverty is unjust", tell the editor why that is so
     
  • Have a good structure:
  1. briefly state your position or the argument you oppose
  2. present your evidence
  3. close with short restatement of your position or a short concise comment
    (For example: "Mr Smith on 24 January said 'foreign aid is a waste of money, developing countries need to trade out of poverty'. In fact it is a far more complex issue. A country can't trade without roads and ports. Aid spent on key infrastructure, technology and governance can create an attractive trade environment.");
  • Consider using facts and figures.
    (For example: "This year, global bailouts have reached a total of more than $x trillion dollars, 4 times the amount spend on aid and development over the past decade. When will government's start to take the global poverty crisis seriously?");
     
  • Make your point directly and clearly using an active, not passive voice. Are there words you don't need to use?
    (For example, "we have within us the ability to make a difference" should read "we are able to make a difference", or, "the time for us to take action is now" could read "now is the time to act".);
     
  • Read your letter from the perspective of the editor and the other newspaper readers. What type of letter are they likely to publish? What will be interesting to their target audience?
     
  • Include your contact details, name, address, phone number and signature. This won't be published but will be used if they need to verify that you wrote the letter.

Finally, just give it a go. 150 words is easy so start writing and make your voice heard

 

Sources: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/activist/howlte.htm and http://www.lexicon.net/~lis01101/Pages/WRIT_LET.HTM