6 Online Petition Form Strategies to Rally Supporters

Mark Kelly
March 22, 2018

Find out our favorite online petition form strategies.

It’s official: sharing online petition forms is one of the most popular ways for individuals to show their support for causes they care about. In online petition forms, advocacy organizations like yours create compelling calls to action that rally key supporters. When supporters sign your petition, they often share your form with their friends, family, and coworkers across social networks.

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Online petition forms aren’t just popular; they’re effective, too! With the right online petition strategies, your organization can both spread your message and spur real action among supporters.

If your nonprofit is ready to revitalize your approach to digital advocacy, check out some of our favorite online petition form strategies:

  1. Capture excitement with your online petition form’s title.
  2. Tell a visual story through your electronic petition.
  3. Declare your online petition form’s purpose.
  4. Turn your online petition form’s buttons into rallying cries.
  5. Include a progress thermometer in your electronic petition.
  6. Show off your online petition’s supporters.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive into these standout electronic petition tips!

Capture excitement with your online petition form’s title.

1. Capture excitement with your online petition form’s title.

When individuals encounter your online petition form, the very first thing they’ll see is your form’s title. For this reason, it’s integral that your team uses this space to immediately capture their attention and build excitement for your cause.

With the right online petition software, you’ll be able to easily edit your form’s title to make it as prominent and appealing as possible. Consider some of these best practices to abide by when crafting your title:

  • Leverage commanding verbs in your title, like “Stop,” “Demand,” “Unite”, and “Free”. This way readers immediately know what you want them to do.
  • Show a clear outcome in your title by illustrating what will happen when supporters sign. For example, your title may be “Stop Illegal Poaching in South Africa”.
  • Directly address signers in your title. Your readers should immediately feel like they are being addressed by your petition, as opposed to feeling like a passive observer.

See how Save the Children makes use of a commanding petition title? By clearly equating signing the petition with positive action towards ending famine, they make it easier for signers to get on board with participating in the campaign.

Discover how Save the Children implements online petition form best practices.

So, what shouldn’t your online petition form’s title look like? Be sure your title doesn’t use passive language like “Please consider signing…” or “Why you should support X cause…”

Above all, don’t let your title drag on and on. The shorter your petition’s title, the more exciting and engaging it will be. Directness is the name of the game!

Tell a visual story through your electronic petition.

2. Tell a visual story through your electronic petition.

Second only to your petition’s title, the most prominent feature of your form is its visual elements. Things like pictures, videos, and branded elements all come together to tell readers about your advocacy organization’s identity.

Online petition software allows your team to have ultimate freedom in designing the visual style of your form in a way that tells a story to supporters. Look at some of these ways you can make the most of your petition’s visuals to win over readers:

  • Showcase your constituency in your online petition form’s photos. This means you should include images of individuals who directly benefit from your campaigns.
  • Brand your online petition to your nonprofit advocacy organization. You can do so by prominently featuring your logo, branded color scheme, and motto.
  • Include images in social posts when sharing your petition on social media. Newsfeed algorithms often prioritize visual posts, so this will ensure more readers see your form.

Check out how Organization for International Change utilizes imagery in their social posts. By sharing their petition along with an image, they're able to increase the online mileage of their campaign while also making it more attractive to potential signers.

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Just like your petition’s title, your imagery should be clear and direct. Don’t overload your form with unnecessary or confusing pictures that draw attention away from your message.

Remember: your online petition form’s visuals are part of a reader’s first impression of your advocacy campaign. Make your form count by taking its imagery seriously!

Declare your online petition form’s purpose.

3. Declare your online petition form’s purpose.

Once readers make it past the first impressions stage of interacting with your online petition form, it’s time to seal the deal (i.e., get them to sign and share your form). This means the body of your online petition should give them the details they want to know.

As you design your online petition form, make sure you clearly address the important questions readers will have about your campaign. In under 500 words, your online petition form should answer:

  • Why is this cause important?
  • Who will benefit from this advocacy campaign?
  • How is the advocacy organization addressing this issue?
  • What will be accomplished by signing this petition?
  • Where does this petition fit in with the organization’s broader mission?

The worst mistake your nonprofit can make when creating your online petition form is to leave your readers wanting more. Even if your cause is worthy, people won’t sign your form if they don’t understand why it’s necessary.

To really make your online petition form stand out, be sure that it makes signing a no-brainer decision!

Turn your online petition form’s buttons into rallying cries.

4. Turn your online petition form’s buttons into rallying cries.

Just like your online petition form’s title, your form’s buttons also offer a great opportunity to immediately direct readers toward signing and sharing your campaign. When you build your form with comprehensive online petition software, adding and designing buttons is easy.

Look at how Save the Bees leverages an action-oriented button on their online petition form.Your online petition’s buttons need to be action-oriented and direct. Check out some of these ways to make the most of these useful tools:

  • Use euphemisms on your buttons to directly equate signing and sharing your form with positive action. For example, “Save the rainforest! or “Spread the word!”
  • Connect social sharing to your buttons. You can add buttons to the bottom of your form that immediately craft Tweets or Facebook messages for readers to share.
  • Limit the number of buttons on your online petition form. Although you want to make it easy for readers to sign and share, never include more than 2-3 buttons on your form.

Check out Save the Bee's mobile-optimized online petition form. Their action-oriented button makes it easy for supporters to participate in their advocacy campaign.

In just a few clicks, supporters are able to take action for your cause. By making the pathway to advocacy as direct as possible for those who encounter your online petition, you'll never risk losing out on individuals who are confused by your form.

Even better, because interaction is so easy, supporters will be more likely to participate in your next online advocacy campaign.

Include a progress thermometer in your electronic petition.

5. Include a progress thermometer in your electronic petition.

Although it might seem a little obvious, it’s worth reiterating: most individuals prefer to support online petitions that are already well on their way to reaching their signature goal. For most supporters, they’ll be more likely to sign and share when they can see others are inspired by your campaign, too.

One of the best ways to show off the success of your online petition campaign is to leverage a progress thermometer. With a progress thermometer, you can show readers:

  • Your online petition form’s signature goal.
  • A real-time headcount of the number of individuals who’ve signed your form.
  • The amount of time remaining for your campaign to reach its goal

The idea behind this strategy is that if readers can see that your campaign is close to its goal, they’ll feel their signatures will be more meaningful towards reaching it.

If they think signing and sharing your petition will get you closer to your finish line, they’ll be more inspired to engage with your campaign.

Show off your online petition’s supporters.

6. Show off your online petition’s supporters.

Another way to get your online community excited about your online petition campaigns is to center their support at the heart of your campaign messaging. This means always making it a point to publicly thank and acknowledge signers on your form and across communication channels.

Your team can show off your online petition form’s supporters in a number of ways. These methods include:

  • Adding a running list of signers to the bottom of your online petition. Be sure to allow signers to opt into this feature, though, in case they’d rather stay anonymous.
  • Shout out signers on social media to show them your thanks. You can spotlight random signers, thank them as a group, or single out individuals who heavily shared your form.
  • Send a thank you email at the end of your campaign individually thanking your petition’s signers. This helps strengthen support for future campaigns.

When supporters feel like your organization truly appreciates their support, they’ll be more likely to continue to sign petitions for your cause campaign after campaign.

Even better, these individuals are more likely to share your forms among friends (and thus, spread the word about you mission far and wide).

Mastering your online petition form strategy is easy when you learn to make use of the right software and strategies. With these best practices, your organization is read to rock your next petition campaign!


If you want to find out more about advocacy petitions, check out these additional resources:

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