Petitions are a fundamental driver of change in the community and can be used to address anything from a blocked sewer line to an implemented law. If there is something in your society you would like to improve or do away with, you can take some lessons from famous Petition Examples and make a petition of your own. The petition should be well-researched, precise, and delivered in a friendly manner so that it inspires other people to join you.
Online and offline petitions have been used to effect changes for many years. Whether your goal is small and local or will have global ramifications, read on to learn what you need to make it stick.
What Is a Petition?
A petition is a formal document designed to appeal to an authorizing figure to take specified action by changing a policy, fixing a problem, granting relief or privileges to an individual or group of people, etc. The initiator usually highlights the issue at hand and what the party in authority should do to remedy it. Once this is done, they circulate it to different people who sign it.
A legal petition is a formal application – usually filled in by an attorney – presented to a court to request that they take action with regard to a specified matter.
What Are Some Successful Petitions Examples?
People have been using petitions for years to take on topics in their community they feel should be changed or improved. Some great examples of such campaigns that were successful include:
Karma, the Husky
This petition was initiated by Danna to prevent Orange County Animal Control from euthanizing a dog that was found to be part wolf. Danna collected 362,500 signatures and was able to save Karma the Husky, who was instead sent to a North Carolina rescue center.
Raju the Elephant
Following a successful petition, the MGO Wildlife SOS was made rescued Raju the Elephant from captivity, where he was being held illegally and mistreated by his owner. This campaign both saved the elephant from abuse and brought attention to how elephants are treated in India.
Gender Neutral Bathrooms
In another petition, the initiator campaigned for the construction of gender-neutral bathrooms. This movement inspired another petition for transgender bathrooms. Both petitions were granted.
Petition Examples and Templates
How to Write a Petition
Before people agree to sign your petition, they will want to know what it is about and why they should care. Coming up with an answer requires that you invest a lot of time researching the topic of your petition. You will also need to prepare for any arguments you might face during your campaign. Once you are confident you have enough information, follow this detailed guide to craft a moving petition:
Step 1: Determine the Applicable Jurisdiction
Start by finding out the party responsible for implementing your petition and calling their administrative office to ask for petition guidelines. If the matter you are petitioning falls under the government’s jurisdiction, request that the office direct you to the department that oversees similar causes. You should also check whether you will need the approval to circulate your sheets.
Step 2: Ask About the Number of Signatures
Many organizations and government bodies dictate the number of signatures that a petition must have to be considered. Confirm the number from the organization’s office or website.
Step 3: Draft the Goal Statement
Now that you know how many signatures you need to collect and where to take them, you can start working on the petition itself. Capture your goal in a concise and informative statement that explains what you wish to address. Place this statement at the top of your petition and consider bolding and enlarging it so that it is prominent on the page.
Step 4: Summarize Your Petition
Beneath the goal statement, write two or three paragraphs that briefly explain the topic of the petition. This is where you get to convince the reader that they should care about the matter enough to sign your petition. Present your argument in a passionate yet logical manner.
Step 5: List Your References
In a separate sheet (to be attached to the signing sheet), list all your sources for the information described in your petition summary. Some people may ask to see these references so they can verify the validity of the information in your petition.
Step 6: Supply a Call to Action
Next, tell the reader what they can do to remedy the situation. Of course, they know they need to sign the petition to help, but you need to convince them to do so. Tell them your goal, who can help you achieve it, and when. You can also include a paragraph describing other actions they can take to support your cause.
Step 7: Proofread the Document
Read your petition from start to finish, correcting any grammatical or spelling errors and checking the flow. Does your message come across well? Edit the document until you are satisfied.
Step 8: Prepare the Signer’s Sheets
Finally, use a spreadsheet program to design a separate signer’s form where people can sign your petition. Affix the title to the top of the sheet, followed by the petition statement, and create fields for the signors’ names, email addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, and signatures.
Tip: Always print more signer’s sheets than you think you will need so you don’t run out of space and have to turn away some signatures.
How to Promote Your Petition
With your petition now complete and ready to circulate, your next step is to promote it to your audience and get the signatures you need. The most successful Petition Examples are promoted through the following strategies:
Meet Interested Audiences
The best way to get the word going about your petition is to talk about it with your target audience. Mention it at school, work, or in social groups and attend events with large groups of people that share this interest, where you can deliver a speech. When possible, ask the people close to you to hand out signature sheets on your behalf.
Note: Always seek permission before speaking to people on private property, schools, or campuses, so you don’t get into trouble with the authorities.
Inspire an Online Movement
Most of today’s conversations have shifted to the online space, and there is no reason your petition shouldn’t do so too. After preparing your petition, launch a dedicated online forum or blog where people can interact with the material and ask you questions. You can also use your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts to create a buzz around the topic.
Email Your Forms
Email is a great way to send out petitions to friends and family who live far from you or are busy during your free hours. Prepare a digitized version of the document and email it to them, complete with a link to your online signature sheet. When using this strategy, send one email and follow it up with one or two more, but don’t go overboard.
Get Media Coverage
If possible, consider doing an interview with a local TV or radio station, podcast, or newspaper. This strategy is effective when the petition topic is local.
What Do the Most Successful Petitions Have in Common?
Successful petitions usually contain an attention-grabbing headline, a compelling message, and a powerful call to action. They also:
- Have a focused and precise message that acts as a unified voice with many supporters.
- Inspire the target authority to implement new practices or policies.
- Bring attention to a local issue
- Are easy to understand, sign, share, and promote
- Raise awareness on an issue that resonates with other people
- Inspire a movement geared towards change
- Inspire other people to get involved or start a similar petition
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a petition statement?
A petition statement is a summary of the topic of a petition. It is usually placed at the top of the signer’s sheet to inform the audience what the petition is about and how they can participate.
What makes a petition valid?
Generally, there are no legal requirements that must be met to make a public or viral petition valid. Nonetheless, legal or political petitions will usually be governed by state or federal laws.
Can anyone start a petition?
Yes, anyone with a passion for change can start a petition. That said, some petitions only apply to specific countries and states and can only be stated by constituents of those areas.
Can you start a petition anonymously?
Petitions that started with real names usually get more signatures because people prefer to rally behind someone they know. However, you can use your first name and initials if you prefer some anonymity. It is important to point out that many states have laws against signing a fake name on a petition.
Petition Examples have been used to change the course of history in big and small ways all around the world. In the United States, for example, a petition with 130,000 signatures calling for the end of slavery played a role in pushing Congress towards that decision. When preparing your petition, infuse it with passion and well-researched material that inspires other people to rally behind your cause. Clip your document to a clipboard, carry a pen, and go collect the signatures you need. Finally, always remember to thank the people that sign your petition.