9 reasons your nonprofit should use online petitions – even if you’re not an advocacy organization

To effectively raise money and build an engaged group of supporters, your organization needs more than just a donate page on its website. You need strategies and tools that move people from casual visitor to recurring donor and dedicated supporter – all while minimizing overhead.

Online petitions are an effective tool to capture the casual visitor and active donor alike, and move them down the engagement path – even if yours isn’t an advocacy organization.


Here are nine reasons why:

1. Online petitions educate potential supporters about what your organization is all about

petitions-screenshot-mobile Your petition appeal gives a clear, short snapshot of what you care about and the change your organization is visualizing.

It provides a great hook to grab the attention of would-be supporters even if they never read your About Us or Our Mission pages.

2. Online petitions are soft touch ways to build your mailing list – and a larger mailing list mean more potential donors

Signing a petition requires little effort on behalf of visitors and doesn’t require them to reach for their wallets.

If you’re using the right petition tool, signing the petition efficiently adds them to your mailing list so you can continue the conversation over time through targeted communications that can lead to higher levels of engagement – and more donations.

3. Online petitions can go viral – radically expanding your reach and accelerating list building

Because of the soft touch required and the clear and easy “sign this now” call to action, petitions can make for ideal content to share over social networks so folks signing can encourage their friends to sign.

4. Online petitions can make ideal mobile-friendly content that reaches supporters on whatever device they’re on and wherever they’re at

petitions-screenshot-sign-keyboard Soft touch and clear and easy “sign this now” calls to action also translate into quick actions people can take from their smartphone on the go.

Standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the metro, walking into work, hanging out on the couch…all become locations where people viewing your petition on a smartphone should be able to easily thumb in their signature and get on your mailing list.

5. Online petitions can be quick to create and publish – making them perfect for responding to breaking news

If you’ve got a title, an image, and a bit of text, you’ve got the makings of a petition.

Throw in a nonprofit-accidental-techie-friendly petition tool that makes publishing your petition quick and easy, and you’ve got a perfect strategy for generating calls to action in response to breaking news and mobilizing supporters around a hot issue.

6. Online petitions can micro-target audiences or super specific issues – focusing impact and allowing comparison of outcomes across those communities and issues

Trying to mobilize individuals in a particular demographic, a specific neighborhood, or around a particular sub-issue? Petitions can provide a simple and effective way to target your efforts – and add to your mailing list in ways that provide great information on who your supporters are and what they care about.

They can also field test messages or targeted groups in a low-impact way to determine where more robust, costly efforts by your organization should be targeted for greatest impact.

7. Petitions can lead to a donation ask directly after visitors sign – since those who sign are more likely to give

If someone has signed your petition, they’re letting you know their down with your mission and care enough to let you know it.

Asking them to donate toward your efforts around the same issue as the petition as part of a confirmation message or email can be an effective strategy for raising revenue.

8. Online petitions are ready-made news content which write their own headlines – creating perfect content for blogs, press releases, and social media efforts

Petition campaigns create their own news. Share how progress toward your goal is going. Let people know about major milestones. Post about on- and off-line activities in support of the larger effort. Update on any change that happens as a results of the petition.

And, when doing so, direct people back to the petition to sign, share, and donate.

9. Online petitions are conversation starters with those who sign – contributing to natural follow up on ongoing progress and final results of the campaign

The same qualities that make petitions great news generators allow them to be perfect conversation starters with those who sign them.

Email supporters those same regular updates you’re posting to your blog and social media channels. Encourage them to donate to support the effort – and to share the petition through their own social media channels. Reward and publicly recognize those who generate the most buzz. Create a positive feedback loop that leverages success to bring in more success.

What’s your take?

How have online petitions benefited your nonprofit – even if you’re not an advocacy organization? What are ways you see them being useful for expanding your reach and increasing your impact?

Want more?

Register for our free webinar Building your non-profit’s mailing list with online petitions taking place January 30th from 1 – 1:30 pm ET.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 at 10:06 am and is filed under advocacy, nptech, petitions, quick tips, Salesforce.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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