How to create a successful petition in 3 easy steps

Kat Sladden at TEDxBrum (Photo: TEDxBrum)

Kat Sladden at TEDxBrum (Photo: TEDxBrum)

We’ve all seen people sharing petitions online. But what is it that makes some petitions succeed, while others fail? At TEDxBrum, Kat Sladden, a senior campaigner at Change.org — the largest platform for creating petitions online — shares her tips on how to make a online petition take off.

Online petitions enable anyone, anywhere, to mobilize support for local concerns as well as global issues, Sladden says, but for an online petition to make change, Sladden believes that it needs to foster a community and — then — a movement.

Sladden shares recent examples of successful petitions — from a campaign that resulted in a Texas-based food chain agreeing to one hundred percent cage-free eggs by 2025 to a campaign to that helped the safe return home of two U.S. citizens unjustly imprisoned in Kuwait.

Below, Sladden’s three tips for creating a petition that could start a movement:

  1. Tell your story. People relate to honest, personal stories, Sladden says. When a petition includes the story behind the cause, it helps people make a personal connection to the cause, she says: “People will relate to [the story] and that is what will inspire them to act.”
  2. Build your community. “Email your petition to everyone you know and ask them to email it to everyone they know,” says Sladden. She believes that social movements start not with social networks, but with email. After support starts to come in — “Talk to these people [who have put their hand up and are saying that they care], tell them what you want them to do,” she says. Offline events and media coverage will also make for a wider community and a bigger impact.
  3. Focus on the “little big thing.” Sladden encourages petition-crafters to focus on something that could cause a win for one person or a single group of people. Though this is less grandiose than proposing to change entire global systems or structural issues, small wins will start dialogue with decision-makers and it will fuel bigger movements.

Watch Kat Sladden’s whole talk below to hear more:

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