Online Petitions: A Powerful Advocacy Tool to Effect Change
In the past, the process of rallying groups to sign a petition or pledge their support was a tall order. Garnering enough support to truly effect change was prohibitive on many fronts: it was extremely time intensive, required a significant amount of money, and demanded many bodies on the ground to collect signatures and build support.
If you were fortunate enough to have success during the initial support phase, further mobilization and the on-going dissemination of information required essentially the same demands as when you began.
However, the creation of online petition websites has empowered regular citizens to have their voices heard on a large scale. When used as part of a larger strategy, online petitions can be used to influence people and effect change. Supporters can easily sign their names to a petition, and the creator can electronically deliver it virtually anywhere in the world.
Using social media and online connections, petitions with strong support will gather additional steam by circulating beyond the original circle of influence, as individuals forward them to their own friends. This can be done via traditional online avenues like email, or by utilizing social media integration tools that many online petition websites offer for free.
Obviously, to effectively influence change, the petition must have a substantial number of signers whose opinion matter to your intended audience. As an example, it can be an extremely powerful statement to present a public official with a large list of constituents that are unified in their support of a cause.
Some online petition tools we have used in the past:
This popular online petition website has recently been our go-to solution. It is a free, easy to use platform, which has a sizeable community of users and allows for a huge amount of reach.
Salsa by Democracy in Action (www.democracyinaction.org)
Salsa is a low-cost option that provides some advanced features not found in some of the free options. It offers list management, petitions, email newsletters, website content management, and also has the ability to accept online donations.