How to Start a Petition Website to Support Your Cause
Creating a petition is a powerful grassroots strategy if you want to be a changemaker in your community. Gathering signatures will help you draw strength in numbers, and will also provide a platform for your friends, followers and fellow community members to voice their support for an important cause.
In recent years, online petitions have largely replaced the pen-and-paper version, since they’re easily shareable to large numbers of people. Using a website builder, you can start an online petition of your own that you can use to gather digital signatures and spread the word about your efforts. Here, we’ll discuss how to create a petition website from start to finish, from doing thorough research to building awareness and momentum.
How to start a petition website
Research your cause
Identify your goal
Name your project
Choose a strategic design
Create a clear and powerful homepage
Write a statement of purpose
Create a form for signatures
Spread the word
Include social sharing tools
Keep your supporters in the loop
01. Research your cause
The first step in starting a petition is to have a thorough understanding of the cause. If you want people to take you seriously and lend their support, you’ll need to get the facts right. Do your research by speaking to relevant lawmakers, community members or anyone else who may be involved. You should also refer to reputable news sources and reading material. This will help you approach the petition from a strategic angle and articulate your position more clearly.
If you’re petitioning for a change in government policy or law, take note of any government regulations regarding the petition process, either at the local, state or national level. Depending on these legal guidelines, you may need a specific number of signatures before your efforts are deemed valid.
You’ll also need to research who is in charge of the issues at hand. If your petition targets the wrong people, they may not have the authority to accommodate your proposal, even if they side with your perspective.
Finally, take note of where you’ll need to submit the petition once your desired number of signatures has been collected.
02. Identify your goal
A petition isn’t simply a complaint; on the contrary, it’s a demand to achieve a goal. Because of this, it’s important to use your research to develop an informed idea of what, specifically, you’re aiming to accomplish.
First, confirm that the change you’re asking for doesn’t already exist. Maybe it does, and there are other obstacles that prevent it from being enforced. If that’s the case, you’ll need to shift the angle of your proposal.
Second, offer a solution that is straightforward, quantifiable and concrete. Spell out exactly what you want so that your audience can’t circumvent your proposal with a half-hearted compromise. Be sure to be as direct and transparent as possible by explicitly writing out your goal and demands on your petition website.
03. Name your project
To make your petition easier to identify and discuss, give it a name. Your title should:
Include a catchphrase (similar to a slogan) associated with your cause.
Identify the target of your petition.
Use active verbs that call your supporters to action.
Relatedly, you’ll need to choose a domain name for your petition website, since that’s the primary way people will learn about and share your message. Be sure to check the availability of your preferred domain names to ensure there isn’t already something similar that people can get confused with.
04. Choose a strategic design
Once you’ve dug deep into the issues you’re aiming to tackle and identified your goals, it’s time to create a website. Given the urgency of many petitions, you might consider using a template rather than building your site from the ground up. These website templates are created by professional designers, and they’re fully customizable so that you can adapt them to suit your needs.
Like with all types of websites, you’ll also want your color scheme to strongly reflect your messaging and accurately represent the issue at hand. Do you want to evoke feelings of optimism and hope, urgency or solemnity? Using color psychology, you can strategically select colors that add to the impact of your petition website and inspire empathy for your cause.
05. Create a clear and powerful homepage
Your homepage will be many people’s first encounter with your petition. To persuade them to sign, this page should be informative and inspiring.
In addition to displaying the name of your cause, the site’s homepage should include:
A clear description of the issue, as well as your mission and goals.
Images that depict the problem.
A call-to-action (CTA) that prompts users to sign and takes them directly to the relevant form.
The bottom line is to make your petition website as easy as possible for people to browse and understand. By improving your website navigation and creating a seamless user flow, you’ll increase the chances that site visitors will read about your cause and leave their signature in support.
06. Write a statement of purpose
Like a mission statement, a statement of purpose outlines your mission and goals. By explaining the nature of the problem, why it needs to be fixed and your proposed solution, this statement helps put your petition website in context and persuade potential signees.
To make this text as effective as possible, it should be concise and easy to skim read. Include straightforward information and relevant facts that tell a clear, logical story. At the same time, avoid bogging down your explanation with details, as this may confuse your audience or cause them to lose interest.
Finally, cite your references. Not only is this a good practice when sharing other people’s information, but it also adds credibility to your cause.
07. Create a form for signatures
At the heart of your petition is your signature database - the collection of all the people who have signed up in support of your cause. To obtain these signatures, you’ll need a dedicated form on your website for people to leave their name, as well as other details like their email address and comments.
You can do this by adding Wix Forms directly onto your petition website. Start by navigating to Form Settings on your website dashboard, and then customize the design and submission fields. All submissions will automatically be saved as a table on your dashboard, so you’ll be able to view the full list of names and other information entered on the form.
You can later import a digital file or export the data to another location, such as a spreadsheet. This will allow you to sync any external signatures with your website database, and to compile your data for printed submission if required.
08. Include social share buttons
Social sharing is a critical part of raising awareness about your petition. Not only should you promote your petition website on your own social channels, but you should also encourage supporters to spread the word to their followers.
For that reason, it’s critical to add a variety of social share buttons to your site. Place these buttons prominently on your homepage, as well as next to the sign-up form, to encourage supporters to sign and share.
09. Spread the word
To grab the attention of potential signees, improve your website’s searchability. You can do this by boosting your website’s SEO, or search engine optimization. This important practice makes it easier for your site to get found on Google and other search engines, increasing the chances that people will navigate to your website and sign the form.
Additionally, couple your SEO efforts with a social media marketing strategy. Share your petition on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms to raise awareness for the cause and get more signatures. Be sure to use hashtags strategically, as this will help you reach people who aren’t connected with you on social media but who may be interested in your cause.
10. Keep supporters in the loop
After people have signed your petition, you don’t want to simply let them go. On their end, they’ll want to stay updated and informed about your petition’s progress, especially if it’s for a cause they particularly care about. On your end, you want to retain these supporters as people you can reach out to if you need extra hands to help promote this or future efforts.
Using the contact details in your site’s database, send email newsletters to your signees about how your work is progressing. You can also create a blog to write updates on your site, tell the story behind your efforts, and detail other ways your supporters can help.
Finally, include supplementary resources to rally additional supporters and build an online community. Create a forum on your site where people can engage with one another and share ideas. You might also try creating other forms of content, such as podcasts, webinars, vlogs and more, to provide additional information about your cause.
By Rebecca Strehlow
Wix Blog Writer