As a country, we’re in a moment that demands a radical response. As campaigners, we should all be wrestling with the reality that our operational methodology needs to change. We need a new and better playbook to engage donors and activists.
But no matter how we choose to move forward, we’re still going to need entry points for people. And that’s why we shouldn’t dismiss the utility of petitions, open letters, and click-generating sign ons.
For those tools to be effective, we do need to be intentional about treating a new signature as a signal that an individual supporter is ready to do more. When we’ve looked at it in the past, for instance, we’ve seen that once someone adds their name to a petition or shares a testimonial, they become 1.5 times more likely to later make a call to a lawmaker on our behalf. For many, it’s the first rung on a ladder of long-term engagement.
A signature isn’t just a data point, though. It’s not just an excuse to set up a daisy chain or an input for designing new supporter journeys.
It’s a public declaration. And we need to treat it as such. Collectively, we need to do a better job putting petitions to use.
So if you’re looking for a place to get started — some fuel for your imagination — here’s a non-exhaustive list of ways that you can use petition signatures to drive attention for an advocacy campaign, boost awareness for your organization, generate press, or get a policymaker to take notice of your work:
1. Use the number of signatures in talking points for lobbyists.
2. Use the number of signatures in talking points for lobby days.
3. Use the number of signatures in talking points for letters to the editor.
4. Display every signature on your website.
5. Display every signature on a wall in your office.
6. Display every signature on signage at an event.
7. Display every signature on the step-and-repeat at an event.
8. Display every signature on a banner for a march.
9. Display boxes of signatures for a grassroots event.
10. Display boxes of signatures for a press conference.
11. Print district-specific names on a postcard and mail them to each lawmaker.
12. Create a gif that scrolls throughout every name to share on social media.
13. Host a Facebook/Twitter/Youtube Live video to read every name.
14. Reply to lawmaker Tweets or Facebook posts with images featuring petition signatures.
15. Create static social graphics for groupings of signatures (every petition signer in a particular city) and share them on social media.
16. Project every name on the side of the legislative building.
17. Project every name from a specific district on the side of a lawmaker’s local office.
18. Project every name from a specific district on the side of a lawmaker’s house.
19. Project every name from a specific district on the venue where a lawmaker is speaking.
20. Buy a full-page newspaper ad to display every name.
21. Buy political newsletter advertising to display the names.
22. Buy billboards along a lawmaker’s commute to display the names.
23. Buy bus stop advertising outside a lawmaker’s office to display the names.
24. Follow the lawmaker with a mobile billboard truck displaying the names.
25. Read every name at a grassroots event.
26. Read every name at a press event.
27. Have a supportive lawmaker read every name into the legislative record.
28. Record every name and play the audio on a loop adjacent to an event organized by your opponents.
29. One name = one yard sign displayed near the legislative building.
30. One name = one yard sign placed on a lawmaker’s block.
31. Flyer every car on the street outside the legislature with petition signatures.
32. Flyer every car outside an event where a lawmaker is speaking with petition signatures.
33. Flyer every car in a lawmaker’s neighborhood with petition signatures.
34. Flyer every car outside a lawmaker’s church/temple/synagogue/mosque during services.
35. Flyer every car outside a lawmaker’s gym while they get in a workout.
36. Flyer every car outside the restaurant where a lawmaker is eating.
37. Distribute flyers about the petition at a conference where a lawmaker is speaking.
38. Distribute flyers about the petition at a fundraiser that a target lawmaker is hosting.
39. Have a lawmaker’s neighbor deliver the signatures.
40. Have a lawmaker’s cousin/sibling/in-law deliver the signatures.
41. Have the mayor of a lawmaker’s community deliver the signatures.
42. Have the biggest employer in a lawmaker’s district deliver the signatures.
43. Have the lawmaker’s former teacher deliver the signatures.
44. Have the lawmaker’s college roommate deliver the signatures.
45. Have the lawmaker’s doctor or dentist deliver the signatures.
46. Have the lawmaker’s personal trainer or fitness instructor deliver the signatures.
47. Have a lawmaker’s minister/rabbi/priest/spiritual leader deliver the signatures.
48. Have the lawmaker’s child deliver the signatures.
49. Save the signatures electronically (along with information about your issue) and bring them to a meeting with a lawmaker.
50. Print them out and bring them to a meeting with a lawmaker.
Have another idea for how we can use petition signatures? Please share it!