Online petitions can be an effective way for your nonprofit to build support around an issue while expanding your mailing list – even if your not primarily an advocacy organization.
Done right, and with the right service, petitions can be an outstanding addition to a complete engagement path that cultivates more donations and supporters for your nonprofit.
But how do you know if the service you are considering is the right service? Here are ten questions every nonprofit should ask when considering an online petition tool.
1. What are the start up and recurring subscription costs?
You probably had this in mind already, right? So, are we talking a downpayment-on-a-house type cost or something more manageable to get started?
Is there a monthly or annual subscription fee? Is it sustainable for your organization’s budget moving forward? Does that cost increase as you gain more supporters or is it a fixed cost you can plan for so success won’t break the bank?
2. Who owns the data – you or the the service?
Petitions are largely about list building. Keep in mind whose list you’re actually building.
Do you need to pay for each signature to access the data or do you get those names as part of the cost of the service? Do you have full control over the data or is that process managed by the service? Make sure that a wildly successful petition campaign actually yields a wildly successful list of names in your mailing list without blowing your budget.
3. Whose brand is highlighted – yours or the service’s?
You’ll be putting effort into your petition campaign to drive traffic and create buzz. Is that effort ultimately winding up highlighting the brand of the service you’re using, or is it generating brand recognition and affinity for your own nonprofit?
4. Is the front end user experience simple and pleasing?
Check out examples of the service’s petition form itself. Is the user experience pleasing? Is the setup clear and compelling? Does it make you want to sign it and to be associated with the nonprofit driving the campaign?
5. Is the petition form mobile-friendly?
You want people thumbing out a signature while in line at the grocery store – not requiring them to be tied to their desktop.
If the petition form doesn’t work as well on a mobile phone or tablet as on a desktop, you’re missing a major opportunity to reach donors and supporters where they’re at.
6. Are social sharing options convenient and effective?
Petitions should be as viral as the plague. The service needs to make it easy for them to be contagious so yours can turn into an online epidemic.
7. How easily does the service integrate with your website?
The tighter the integration with your website – on both the administrator and front end user sides – the less overhead you’ll have in managing the petitions, the easier they’ll integrate with other efforts as part of that complete path to gain more donors and supporters, and the more you’ll be assured you’re highlighting your brand.
8. How well does the service integrate with your constituent relationship management system?
Getting signatures from your petition into your constituent relationship management system should be easy and fast – and not create more work cleaning piles of duplicate data, and downloading and uploading CSV files.
9. Is it easy and efficient to create and manage a petition?
Can your staff create petitions easily and efficiently so you can react to breaking news that your supporters are fired up about?
You want to be able to go from seeing a story on CNN to publishing a live petition on your site faster than it takes Wolf Blitzer to trim that beard.
10. What additional tools are offered by the service?
A petitions tool is just one element of a complete online strategy that moves supporters effectively and efficiently down the engagement path. What other tools are offered by the petitions service, do they work well with the petitions tool, and will they lead to more donors and supporters without breaking the bank?
What’s your take?
What are the most important questions for your organization? What would you add to this list?