Write Your Own Action Alert

What’s an Action Alert?

Action alerts are messages that spur your advocates and the general public to get involved with your campaign. Whether by e-mail, a letter, phone call, or even on Facebook and Twitter, action alerts can be used to accomplish a variety of goals. In the case of promoting awareness of and engagement around adopting national standards for out-of-school time programs, action alerts can be used to educate residents in your community about your specific state’s needs and to strengthen advocates’ engagement with your campaign.

We’ve included an example of an “Issue Introduction” alert to guide you through the process of writing your own. Before we get started, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience! This will help you determine the appropriate frame, tone, activation, mode of communication and messenger for your alert.
  • Subject lines can often determine whether someone even opens your message, so make sure to keep them short, include a sense of urgency, and provide a preview of your message to tap into the reader’s curiosity. There are free resources online that will help test how likely your subject line is to be seen as spam as well as other key metrics. The website, www.subjectline.com, is one option, but do an online search to find the one that is right for you.
  • Make sure to include the name of the person you’re contacting. Depending on how you are sending your message, this may need to be done manually, or through a merge field from your online contact database. If a name is not available through your database, a generated term should be inserted like “friend/supporter.”
  • Include a brief background or update on your campaign to reinforce your goals and help your advocates understand your cause. Creating a base level sense of understanding will connect your audience to your campaign and encourage them to take a specific action, like signing a petition or reaching out to decision makers.
  • Clear action links should be included in your message. Using bolded text and call-out boxes can help draw readers’ attention to the goal.
  • Include the state, town, or county in the subject line and/or body of the message to make the message more relevant for your audience.
  • Consider the story arc and narrative flow of your message to clearly identify the issue, how your campaign is working to resolve it, and how the reader can get involved. Strategically include compelling statistics, links to resources, and clear calls-to-action to help tell a story.

Problem, Solution, Urgency! Write your action alert in a way that first highlights the problem, then offers a solution, and tells the reader why they should take action immediately.

Now, let’s walk through an example!

“Issue Introduction” Action Alert

Email Subject LineEx. YOU Can Help Kids Be Healthier Outside of School [SCHOOL] 

Include a link to your informational resources, organization website, blog, or signup sheet. If someone is interested in your cause, give them the opportunity to get involved right away.

Dear [NAME],


Studies show that healthy, active children learn better, but many children aren’t getting the proper nutrition and physical activity they need each day. Outofschool time programs including beforeschool, afterschool, summer and weekend programs  can play a vital role in supporting the overall health and wellness of our children.

Unfortunatelymany outofschool time programs lack consistent standards for healthy eating and physical activity, but some areas across the country have found a solution that works: [INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES LINK]

This is a good place to mention your state or local community, so your advocates feel connected to the issue.

The National AfterSchool Association’s healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards have been implemented in [OTHER STATE], and have worked to help kids learn healthy habits that will help them grow into healthy adults. 

We need to work together to push [STATE] to develop a policy that encourages and supports our local outofschool time programs in adopting HEPA standards. This policy will help program providers get the grant resources and technical assistance needed to ensure that our outofschool time programs meet HEPA standards. This will ensure our children have access to healthy foods and are able to engage in at least one hour of active play time per day, ultimately setting them up for a healthy future. By working together to spread the word about these standards,we can encourage the creation of statewide policies to support and effectively implement them in outofschool time programs. Taking these steps will equip the children in [STATE] to stay on a healthy path. 

Include a hyperlink here to give people another opportunity to get involved.

Get involved and join our effort. 

If you’re the leader of your campaign,include your name here. If someone else is the main point of contact, and you’re writing this action alert on behalf of a larger group, make sure to include that person’s name and/or the name of your organization. If you are using someone else’s name, be sure to have them review the text and provide you with their approval before the message is sent.

Thank you,