How Many Signatures Does A Petition Need?
When you’re ready to make a change, a petition is a strategic way to amplify your voice. One benefit is that it can indicate to policy makers that there is a demand behind the causes you care about. So how many signatures does a petition need in order to be successful? It depends on your goal. Here are some considerations on gathering petition signatures, plus tips on how to maximize your impact with supporters and decision makers.
Signatures Needed for a Federal Response
Petitioning the federal government for change is a right protected by the First Amendment. Under President Obama’s administration, the White House launched a petition website called “We The People.” Any petition submitted with at least 100,000 signatures would receive a formal response. However, the website was shut down in 2018 and hasn’t been relaunched by any other president. Any federal petitions in the U.S. should be submitted directly to a government official, such as your senators or representatives.
Canada similarly has no official government body that accepts petitions. Instead, citizens may petition individual members of Parliament to bring exposure to their causes. If a petition is authorized by a member of Parliament, it is opened to the public and must gain 500 signatures in order to move forward.
Many Petitions Win With Less Signatures
How many signatures does a petition need to get noticed? You don’t need 100,000 signatures in order to make change. In fact, Change.org facilitates plenty of winning petitions at all levels.
For instance, a recent petition called “Save Our Community Mural” earned over 42,000 signatures (with a goal of 50,000) after an auto tint shop was told by local officials to remove a mural that faced a main street instead of a side street. Since the petition launched on Change.org, the affected business owners have been able to collaborate with the mayor’s office to reach an agreement that works for all parties.
Signatures Equal People
It’s easy to focus on numbers alone when gathering signatures for a petition. But don’t forget that each Change.org signature represents a real person who is part of a community supporting the same cause of you. That’s huge. And while you may be looking for those commas behind the numbers of your signers, be sure to celebrate every signature.
Think about it: the average movie theater holds between 200 and 300 people. That’s a big crowd! And the typical high school in the U.S. has about 750 students. So even if your petition isn’t bringing in tens of thousands of signatures, you are still reaching a meaningful audience at any size.
Finally, action is more important than signatures. The Change.org community is ready to mobilize. You can use your audience to rally and continue making noise much more effectively than traditional paper petitions. Keep up the enthusiasm around your cause by providing updates and rallying messages to your audience — no matter how big or small.
How to Leverage Your Signatures
Creating a petition is just the first step in making a change. Signatures are great, but there are four ways to leverage your petition and amplify your cause. Your exact steps depend on the impact area of your cause (such as local, statewide, or national) and what stakeholders have the power to implement change. Figure out these details in order to make the most of your petition. Then take the following actions to create real progress on the issue at hand.
Add your decision-maker’s email address into your petition
Using a Change.org petition allows you to notify a decision maker every time your petition is signed. This is another example of how powerful petitions of any size can be. Imagine a member of Congress receiving 100 emails about the same topic in a short time frame. That could definitely sway them! In order to do this, simply log onto your Change.org dashboard to edit your petition. Add the name, title, and email address of your decision maker and you’re ready to go.
Reconnect with your supporters by email
Instead of getting a signature and never connecting again (like you would with paper petitions), Change.org lets you send email updates to supporters. This helps to re-engage them to take further action, such as sharing the petition with their social media networks or calling a representative about the cause.
Attract interest from the media
Your petition and supporters can also help garner media attention for your campaign. Rally supporters via email to increase in-person event turnout for rallies or parades. Bigger crowds are more likely to attract media interest and spread your campaign message even further.
Use the petition comments to your advantage and tell your supporters’ stories
Take your campaign to the next level by getting personal. Individual stories from your supporter community can give a personal touch to why your cause is so important. Stay active in the comments section of your petition and pull quotes from supporters to utilize in your marketing efforts.
How to Get More Signatures with Change.org
Change.org is your partner in creating a successful petition campaign. We offer an online toolbox full of resources to spread your message, including easy social media sharing and direct email to decision makers.
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