Got a burning issue and a community that supports the changes you propose? Draft a petition using one of the many free online petition tools widely available. All tools enable you to track who signs your petition and some include handy widgets, such as a signature counter or a feature that enables you to embed your petition on a website or blog. Ready to save the world? Here we go:
Act.ly is a relatively new way to petition using Twitter. All you have to do is type in the Twitter name of the person/organization you are targeting, type what you are petitioning them to do, and a petition is created and sent. A particularly good tool if your likely audience is young and wired.
Change.org enables you to create a simple, online petitions that you can mail to friends and supporters. The website also offers tips on how to construct a petition, such as choosing the appropriate target of your advocacy efforts (“Ask yourself “Who can most directly implement the change I want?…The President isn’t usually the best target. Try to choose someone more directly relevant.”) They also have a whole page of tips on How to Write a Petition.
Get paid to write a petition…
Citizenspeak.org is a free online advocacy service that enables you and your supporters to send decision-makers individually-address emails – important as many lawmakers’ websites now filter out generic email addresses. Like most of these sites, Citizenspeaks.org lets you analyze who responds to your petition, download reports, and create customizable “Thank You” pages.
The Petition Site offers a simple online form that you can complete in three easy steps. Like most sites, you can also preview your petition before sending. And you can embed your petition on a website, blog, or on Facebook. In addition, the Petition Site says that you’ll also be joining a community of fellow advocates, some of whom may take up your cause or seek other ways of partnership. And they include a handy Activist Toolkit with lots of tips on how to market your petition effectively.
The Petition Spot (not to be confused with The Petition Site, above) presents a twist on other petition sites by offering a small payment for signatures you collect. It’s not a lot of money – 1 cent for every signature – but just the notion of cash being raised for a good cause is often a great motivation tool for potential supporters!
There are many other petition sites out there – just Google “free online petition” and you’ll see the range of choices. Read the fine print carefully – although all the sites listed above are free, costs start to pile up if you are sending your petition to a large list or if you want specific features not available on the free version.