How to Start a Petition

June 21, 2018 | Featured Articles

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In this modern age of technology and social media, one might think using petitions to influence decision-makers is a little old-fashioned. Actually, the opposite is true!

Petitions these days have gone high-tech. Anyone looking to gather support for an idea, proposal or demand can harness the power of the internet to gain rapid-fire exposure and thousands of signatures without ever having to canvass on the streets.

A number of sites are available to help you create and share your petition for signatures. Care2 Petitions, MoveOn and GoPetition will all walk you step-by-step through the creation of your petition and allow you to disseminate it for support and signatures.

Even the White House has its own platform called We the People, which enables you to create and promote your petition right on the site. Even better, there’s a promised official response to any petitions that reach 100,000 signatures in 30 days (remember the 2013 petition for the creation of a Star Wars-esque Death Star?).

Petitions get noticed, and they are here to stay.

Here are some tips for making sure your cause gains serious traction:

Know your audience.

Are you writing to the local school board? The mayor of your city, or another government representative? The head of the national medical society? Knowing your audience will allow you to craft your message in the most appealing way.

Construct a clear message.

Before you begin, write out your key points and streamline your goal. When drafting the message, always include a captivating title, an explanation of why you are requesting a change or action, and the exact action or goal you are requesting. Message statements should be brief, but must clearly get the message across in a few short statements.

Research how many signatures you need.

Depending on your audience, you may have to meet a specific number of signatures to ensure the petition gets reviewed.

Promote your petition.

If you’re using an online platform, you’ll receive a link to share with friends and family for their signatures. Ask your contacts to pass the link along to their own network, and to share it on their websites and social media accounts. Don’t forget to ask local or national organizations with a vested interest in your idea or demand to also promote your petition. Your petition is only as good as the number of signatures you gather, so get promoting!

Stay the course. Continue encouraging others to support your cause. And never stop looking for ways to adjust your petition or ideas to reflect new research, compromise and growth. You can always adjust your angle and resubmit, or seek out a different route to open up the conversation.