One of the nice things about the Internet is that it isn’t just a static, meaningless forum for information. The Internet is a powerful domain where real people are able to initiate real change throughout the world.
As they say – information is power. If you are especially adept at getting information out into the world, you stand the chance of getting your perspective in front of the eyes of some surprising people. Government officials around the world, policy-makers, and yes even Presidents and other leaders have been known to use Google occasionally. So, the world of online information is fast becoming a place where powerful writers can influence policy and help mold leadership decisions.
The petition, as a vehicle for influencing change, has been a tool used by activists throughout the world for many years. Way before the Internet even existed, activists hit the streets with printed petitions – waves of social soldiers knocking on every door and pleading with people to join the cause.
Because the petition has always been a very powerful vehicle to influence both local and national governments, it makes sense that the idea of a petition would evolve into an online weapon of choice for activists today.
Create Your Own Online Petition
We’ve offered a few choices here at MUO for ways to spread the word about your cause, like PetitionSpot even Facebook Causes. One of the best websites I’ve found to quickly build and distribute a petition of your own is a site called iPetitions. At iPetitions, you can create your online petition just by filling out a few fields, and you’re done.
Now, just filling out those fields may not help you gather many signatures – you really have to take the time to write up powerful petition text that captures interests and motivates people to sign.
In addition, there are other features you can take advantage of at iPetitions that can help you promote and distribute your petition (I’ll show you these below) – so make sure to explore your account once you’ve created your first petition! Creating an account is really fast – you basically just need an email address.
When you get into your new account, just click on “My Petitions” to see your petitions list. You can create as many petitions as you like. This is the area where you can monitor how many signatures you’ve gathered every day. It’s also where you’ll go to make any changes to the online petition itself.
Click on “edit’ and then scroll down to the bottom of the petition edit form until you see the area with “Optional fields.” To improve your odds of people finding your petition directly on iPetitions (by searching the site), make sure to choose a category and write a good one-sentence description. This information will also show up on the right side field of your petition.
On the petition edit page, you can see just how many features are available to you along the left navigation bar. You can check out a history of signatures, view all of them in one place, or even download the entire list so that you can print it out. Many government offices will still only accept a printed petition, so this is an important option.
You can also change the theme of your petition page, and you also have the option to send signers to a customized “thank you” URL of your own if you want.
In my opinion, the coolest and most effective feature of iPetitions is the fact that every single petition features its own blog area. This is where you can publish posts about the issue, and anyone that visits your petition can see your posts. The reverse is also true – if you are able to attract people to your iPetitions blog through the search engine or just by writing provocative posts, those visitors will also see your petition. This is a great way to attract more people to your petition.
Another nice feature is the notifications tool. You can have iPetitions email you on a regular basis with a status report, or whenever the number of signatures hits a certain level in any given day.
There’s also a form available that makes it really easy to fire off the URL of your petition to all of your friends and family. Write a powerful message to get them to visit your petition and sign it!
When people do decide to sign your petition, you can also customize the questions that they answer on the “sign-up” form. This is a great way to learn more about the people that are signing your petition.
All customizations you make are integrated seamlessly into the “Sign Petition” area of the page. You can completely customize this entire form to look however you like, so long as somewhere on the form you have the required name and email address.
The ability to create your own online petition site in less than 10 minutes that includes full blogging functionality and promotional tools really makes this site one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your cause. You don’t have to be tech savvy – you just need to be a good writer.
So go ahead and create a petition about a cause that is important to you. When you’re done, share what you created your petition about. Was it easy, and did you take advantage of the blog? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
Image Credit: shho