Petitions have been utilized since before the Pyramids of Giza were completed. Much has changed since then, including transformations of how civic engagement is practiced. These have often been in line with broader societal developments. Yet even with every new development that hopes to bring social and political participation digital, many people continue to use petitions as their chosen form of change-making. Petitions are the most popular form of online activism.
Why is this the case? Why do we continue to utilize this ancient form of activism? The simple answer is that petitions, despite being a relatively simplistic method of mobilization, deliver results and are highly effective. Before we deep dive into why petitions work, check out some examples of past successful petitions.
Yes, Petitions Are Effective
Online petitions wield substantial influence by raising awareness, gathering public support, and pressuring decision-makers. Sharing petitions on social media and other platforms informs a wider audience, sparking conversations and understanding around critical issues. By partnering with organizations, tracking progress, and utilizing media outlets, petitions can garner significant attention. Importantly, including specific actions in the petitions, like contacting representatives, encourages active engagement.
Using a online petition software can also help when creating and sharing petitions to supporters and keeping track of the number of signatures received.
How Can You Make a Change with an Online Petition?
As an ordinary individual, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of rising global crises. Plus, so many forms of political and social activism are relatively inaccessible to the public, making it feel like change is reserved only for those in power.
Still, petitions provide a space in which the ordinary man or woman can express their concern for a particular issue by adding their signature. Petitions operate as one of the few ways in which the public can create change themselves. It’s a powerful tool for signaling public opinion to those in authority, and most importantly, can serve to restore the public’s relationship with politics and social justice initiatives. This way petitions can transform a disinterested or untrusting member of the public into an active participant in civic engagement and democracy.
Many pressing issues, particularly those that are of perpetual concern, struggle to maintain the spotlight, despite their severity and need for constant support. Issues of this nature all too easily fade away into obscurity without ever gaining the publicity they need to bring on more supporters. Petitions are a great way to combat this. By starting an online petition that revisits a particular issue that has been pushed out of the public eye, much needed public and media attention can be restored to the matter, ensuring that awareness continues to be raised for causes that truly need it.
Building your Network
When managing a campaign or cause of any kind, it can be difficult to identify who your target supporters are, and how they can be accessed. Key voters, donors and supporters can easily be lost by failing to provide an outlet through which members of your community can express their interest in your efforts. Petitions are one such way to solve this potential pitfall. As petitions are an open invitation for people to express their interest in a particular issue, they're an excellent way to identify those who are interested and concerned in a cause/campaign, and are therefore likely to support similar projects in future. Therefore, by starting a petition for a cause which broadly relates to your organization’s efforts and purpose, you can quickly build a database of potential donors and supporters. With Qomon, you are able to automatically add petition signatories to your contact database and share automated emails and SMS to keep supporters updated on your campaign's latest developments.
At their core, petitions are a means of signaling to public authorities that something needs to change, and of providing concrete examples of how this change can be achieved. Several petitions, particularly throughout the past decade, have single-handedly inspired real changes to communities. For example, the Justice for George Floyd Petition in 2020, which demanded the arrest of a police officer who murdered a man over suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill, gained 19 million signatures and led to the police officer’s conviction in 2021. Similarly, the End Child Food Poverty Petition in the UK, which called upon the British Government to expand access to free school meals in order to reduce childhood hunger, received over 1 million signatures and led to the UK Government responding with a promise to introduce a comprehensive support package to help families struggling with food poverty.
What Should You Consider Before Signing a Petition?
When supported by a sufficient number of people and carefully executed, petitions have the power to affect meaningful change on an incredibly broad scale. They can elicit thoughtful responses from national governments and fast-track the development of solutions to issues that have been overlooked by those in power. It's evident that petitions can create some of the most powerful legal, political and social changes, all through the simple act of signing one's name. There are, however, a few things to consider before signing a petition.
Before adding your signature to a petition, it's vital to exercise caution and diligence. Verify the credibility of the source and understand the petition's purpose clearly, ensuring it aligns with your values and beliefs. Check for legitimacy and be cautious of requests for personal or financial information. Assess the potential impact of the petition and research the issue independently to confirm its accuracy.
Additionally, consider exploring other ways to contribute to the cause, and evaluate your long-term commitment to it. By spreading the word responsibly and encouraging informed participation, you can ensure your support is meaningful and impactful.
Launch a petition with Qomon
Once you have created your petition from Qomon’s platform, you have two options to share it with your audience: with a URL or embedding the code into your website.
Copying and pasting the URL allows you to share it in emails, on social media or with different groups of people to get the word out as fast as possible.
On the other hand, if you have a website dedicated to your campaign or cause, having the petition pop up as soon as someone visits it, it is a way to show people what you are trying to fight for and if they could align with what you are representing.
With your petition now published, people can participate in it by filling the different fields and agreeing to sign the petition.
Every time there is a new signature, this person will be automatically added to the contact database and if they have agreed, they will be part of the different communications your movement or cause decides to do as part of the campaign.
If you also want to create and share petitions in just a few clicks, you can get started today with Qomon.