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The basics of creating your own nonprofit petitions

July 24, 2020
This team is working to develop an effective petition for their nonprofit.

Petitions, a staple of grassroots advocacy campaigns, are experiencing a viral moment. Individuals and organizations leverage social media platforms to call supporters to sign their support for various causes. As technology becomes more accessible and prevalent in our lives, social media provides a convenient entry point to advocacy for supporters who were previously unengaged. 

Using petitions is a simple way for nonprofit organizations to engage current supporters, reach new constituencies, and spread awareness of an issue. Easy-to-create, sharable digital forms make petitioning a natural fit for organizations doing any kind of advocacy work today. In this guide, we’ll explore how you can create nonprofit petitions for your organization in five steps.

1. Craft your message

Before you start writing, ask yourself what your petition is trying to accomplish. The intention behind your petition should be clearly communicated in both the header and page description. Keep the title clear and concise, and use the description text on the page to provide more context and details to your nonprofit’s supporters.

2. Capture sign-on information effectively

Aim to make your petition form streamlined so it’s easy for supporters to complete. To ensure you get as many signatures as possible, ask yourself the following questions when designing the form:

  • How does your form look and function? 
  • Does it provide a simple, user-friendly process by only asking the most important questions? 
  • Is your petition optimized for mobile devices
  • Are fields pre-filled with supporters’ contact information to create a smooth and convenient experience? 

With an effective form, you can expand your reach to garner more support for your cause.

3. Encourage supporters to promote the petition

One of the most essential benefits of online petitions is their shareability. You can leverage this aspect of nonprofit petitions by asking your supporters to share the petition. Make it easy for them to do by adding social media share buttons to your form. Quick and convenient sharing capabilities empower supporters to share the petition with their networks, and digital tools help you track who shares your petition on social media to identify the influencers on your list.

4. Prompt further engagement

While your supporters are feeling fired up about a cause, channel that energy by prompting them to take further action. Direct supporters who signed your petition to a secondary ask like making a donation or signing up to volunteer. This is an especially effective way of making sure new supporters stay in touch with your nonprofit and continue to support your cause.

5. Follow up

Converting a first-time supporter into a loyal donor and advocate is a rewarding process that requires time, effort, and several touchpoints. Treat the secondary landing page that supporters navigate to from your petition as the first step of your follow-up engagement. An automated email series is a great next step you can use to thank supporters, introduce your nonprofit organization, and provide more opportunities for them to take action. Petitions are a great starting point for involvement with your organization, so keep engaging petition signers with these issues to turn them into long-term supporters!

Whether your organization regularly runs advocacy campaigns or is just starting to explore activism, every nonprofit has a need to advocate for its cause. After reviewing the basics of petitions, you can make your advocacy efforts and donor acquisition strategies more effective.

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    Supporter Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing