The Basics of Nonprofit Petitions

July 10, 2020  |  Richard Gabrintina

Petitions, an old staple of grassroots political advocacy, are experiencing a viral moment. Social media platforms are full of calls to sign on to support various causes, a convenient entry point to political advocacy for many who were previously unengaged. Using petitions is a natural way for nonprofits to engage current supporters, reach new constituencies, and spread awareness of an issue. Easy-to-create digital forms make petitioning a natural fit for nonprofits doing any kind of advocacy work today.

1. Craft your message

What is your petition trying to accomplish? The intention behind your petition should be clearly communicated in both the header and page description. Be clear and concise in the title and use the description text on the page to provide more context and details.

2. Capture sign-on information effectively

How does your form look and function? Is the petition one long, intimidating list of empty fields, or is does it provide a simple, user-friendly process? Is your petition optimized for mobile devices? Are fields pre-filled with supporters’ contact information to create a smooth and convenient experience? Make sure that your form is built to effectively convert petition signers, expanding your supporter universe.

3. Let your supporters do the promotion work for you

One of the beautiful aspects of online petitions is their ability to be easily shared. Your supporters are your best messengers, so make sure that you are asking them to share the petition, and making it easy for them to do. Adding social media share buttons to your webpage is an easy way to empower signers to take the next step and share the petition with their networks, and digital tools like Social Share Tracking help you identify the influencers on your list.

4. Prompt further engagement

While your supporters are feeling fired up about the cause, make sure to capture that energy and prompt them to take further action. Directing your petition page to a secondary ask like making a donation or signing up to volunteer is an especially effective way of making sure people stay involved with your organization.

5. Follow up

A secondary landing page is only the beginning of follow-up engagement. An automated email series is a great way to thank supporters, introduce your organization, and provide more opportunities for them to take action. Petitions are a great starting point for involvement with an organization, so keep engaging petition signers around these issues to turn them into long term supporters!

Whether you’re a traditional activist nonprofit or not, every organization has a need to advocate. We hope laying out the basics of petitions can help you in your important advocacy work and acquisition. If you’re looking for tools to help you along the way, check out EveryAction Advocacy. For specific techniques on how to activate supporters, check out our webinar, “5 Digital Techniques to Move Your Supporters to Action.”