How To Start A Petition
You have probably heard of petition websites such a Change.org, Care2 or the United States Federal Government petition portal. Petitions are a form of direct lobbying and one of the basic ways people can assemble under a like-minded issue to educate, encourage, or convince an entity to change something. Successful petitions, such as the 2016 Tesco Cage Free Egg Petition where UK supermarket chain Tesco pledged to phase out caged bird eggs by 2025, show that there is a strength to having a large number of people voice their concern over animal safety.
Maybe you have an idea for a petition or notice an injustice that should be rectified but don’t know how to go about it. There are some key factors to address when starting a petition. Read below to find out petition essentials!
Petitions take the form of an electronic and/or physical document, people can sign their name in support to add themselves to a collective list of supporters for that cause. Petitions start on the basis of a request – to amend, change, or stop some policy. Depending on who the target is, there may be legal or procedural barriers to submitting a petition, mostly when submitting to local jurisdictions or governments, however, the target of a petition should always be specific, whether it’s the United States Government, the British Parliament, McDonald’s, or Boeing. The best way to write a convincing petition is by gathering research that will soundly justify the reasons for the petition. Its goal should be focused, feasible, and should be SMART. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Almost any issue from trophy hunting to pesticide use can be expressed in this context.
Petitions should generally have 3 purposes:
- give relevant information for the issue
- suggest what can be done
- explain why it is needed.
Messaging and communication is key for a petition, as the written text will be the bulk of information and needs to be clear, concise, and captivating. Photos and videos can be added for supplemental material to imbue the passion for the issue and illustrate its necessity. Make sure to use both a broad outlook (thinking globally, how does this affect each constituent/ animal/ culture) as well as being specific and local. Organizing your thoughts from broader to more specific helps the reader relate to the issue even if the specific request of the petition is outside their jurisdiction. Making a petition personal is one way to be specific; testimonials and stories to help convey the message makes a cause much more relatable, and is easily shared when it comes time to gather signatures and connect with the target.
In order to get a campaign off the ground, you are going to need signatures, and in order to get signatures, you are going to need to promote your petition. Connecting with other groups who share similar causes is a great way to market your petition to people who are already interested in like petitions. These can be through various social media and petition sites, advocacy groups, and nonprofits. Communicating your petition campaign through digital and print media will also help spread the word. Following up with your signees is extremely important to a to a successful campaign so that you remain engaged with them and are able to establish a personal connection. Providing updates on your progress will put your petition back in the forefront of a signors mind and will increase the amount of traffic coming to your petition.
Ultimately, petitions are an advocacy tool that help promote a viewpoint and encourage behavior from an entity. Petitions can truly amplify support for a cause, even if the end goal takes time. The call to action and achievable goals of petitions make them a huge part of the animal advocacy community, and have contributed to campaigns such as #CrueltyFree.
Have a petition you want to share with the Fanimal community? Go on over to the Community (coming soon!) and let us know!
Sources: Change.org, The DoDo, GoPetition, and Reducing Suffering