Chapter 4

Online Petition

What is it?

An online petition is a tool to help you collect the named support of lots of people for your campaign. It’a a great way to demonstrate the strength of support for your issue. 

Social movements that have used petitions really effectively include the campaign to abolish the slave trade. The abolition movement demonstrated widespread public support for ending slavery, helping politicians see they could change the law. 

Petitions also give you an email list of supporters to keep updated and ask to take further action – so long as you have their consent. 

How do you do it?

  1. Decide who you want to target and what you want to ask: your petition should be aimed at a decision maker/s with a short, clear request for them to make a specific change.
  1. Create your petition: write a short explanation of your campaign to go with the petition text, including links to relevant news articles or places they can find more information. You can create a free online petition on or
  1. Share your petition: once you have created the petition, you need to publicise it to get as many signatures as possible. You can use social media and ask supportive individuals and organisations to share it. 
  1. Follow up with your supporters: use the emails you gather to ask people to share the petition with their networks, keep them updated with your campaign and take further action.
  1. Deliver your petition: if you have a huge number of signatures you may want to deliver them in person to the decision-maker(s) you are targeting, so as to make a stronger point in support of your cause. This can encourage media engagement.

Why and when should you use it?

Petitions are a great tool to use at the start of your campaign to build a supporter base. They can be used strategically with decision-makers in lobby meetings and press releases to demonstrate support for your issue. Petitions help you to show the power you have built for your cause. 

This is especially important when lobbying politicians. They will want to know there is popular support for an issue before taking action on it. If you have a million signatures on your petition, then they can’t ignore that this is something the wider public care about.

Works best in combination with:

A Twitter action to expand the reach of your petition, and in a lobby meeting, to communicate the strength of support for your issue. 

Discover more

Here are some useful links