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How to Write a Petition

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Writing a petition is not as difficult as you might think. Many campaigners have reported success stories with GoPetition after using our powerful platform. For great campaign results you need to take into account a number of issues: identifying your target, proper research, clear communication and how you will promote your petition.

Identifying your target

The first task of effective petition writing is to properly identify your target. At GoPetition we have many examples of petitions written to a variety of campaign targets. The list below illustrates some popular targets:

  •  Governments, parliaments, politicians: local, state, federal, national, EU, UN; 
  •  Political parties, presidents, prime ministers, senators, ambassadors; 
  •  Educational institutions; 
  •  Sports organizations; 
  •  Media organizations; 
  •  Entertainment producers - TV stations, Film and TV producers, studios; 
  •  Neighborhood authorities or home owner associations; 
  •  There are many more examples that can be searched at GoPetition.

Example targets: governments and parliaments

GoPetition hosts many petitions written to governments and parliaments, since many jurisdictions throughout the world now recognize internet petitions.

The Scottish site, e-Petitioner, a parliamentary service, pioneered the use of internet petitions allowing efficient access to the parliamentary process. Seven Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) from the Scottish Public Petitions Committee. Its role is to consider and discuss each petition lodged and decide what action to take.

A broader e-petition service was also initiated in the UK to serve the wider UK community. The site, E-petitions, is located at direct.gov.uk, provides an electronic means to influence government policy in the UK. Currently, 100,000 signatures are required to make a petition eligible for debate in the House of Commons. However even if the requisite number of signatures is obtained with the UK service, there is no guarantee that a parliamentary debate will be held. In these circumstance, GoPetition recommends a broader approach to lobbying than simply lodging an online petition. A successful campaign will inlvolve social media, print media, and grassroots action so that support may lead to momentum and finally traction in the space taken by the petition narrative.

Traction in the petitioning space will, however, partly depend on the jurisdiction selected for campaigning. For example, in Queensland, Australia, internet petitions to parliament allow a Member of Parliament to sponsor an e-petition. The petitions process is governed by Standing Orders. These Standing Orders enable the Queensland Parliament to accept electronic petitioning. Likewise, the Australian Federal Upper House allows electronic petitions under standing orders. Members and Senators are entitled to present petitions from their constituents. The presentation of a petition to the Senate is a proceeding in Parliament and is protected by parliamentary privilege.

In Europe, petitions addressed to the European Parliament are allowed in electronic format but require signers to indicate nationality and employment status. In Europe, any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise a right of petition to the European Parliament under Article 227 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

In the USA, the White House has launched the petitions.whitehouse.gov website and if a petition meets the signature threshold (currently 100,000 signatures), it will be reviewed by the Administration who will issue a response. State legislatures in the USA vary from state to state so it is critical that petition authors check the jurisdiction they are operating in.

The increasing acceptance of internet petitions by governments and parliaments worldwide makes GoPetition an ideal partner for your campaign. (Please peruse some petition template ideas here).

GoPetition services can be used for a variety of petitions addressed to governments at a local, county, state or national level or even internationally (for example, the UN). Our experience is that many of our clients' petitions have "persuasive effect" even regardless of jurisdiction. Governments who ignore legitimate campaigns on technical grounds, do so at their own peril. GoPetition has many examples of well written petitions to a variety of local, state and national governments and parliaments and also to the United Nations (UN). Even petitions at GoPetition that do not strictly comply with jurisdictional standing orders, can still have powerful persuasive influence.

The status of e-signatures

The status of electronic signatures (e-signatures) is undergoing major change and development in many Western jurisdictions. The law of electronic signatures is in its infancy. In these circumstances, we at GoPetition provide for the collection of a variety of data fields to provide as much flexibility as possible for each petition author. We provide custom software so you can build your own fields and collect the data you need and want.

GoPetition aims to keep up to date with the latest trends and requirements for internet petitions and e-signatures while also providing a customized experience for our campaigners, partners and signers.

Proper research

A petition should begin with a request, followed by well researched reasons for making the request. Each petition should provide a description of relevant circumstances and links to documentation or facts that support that description. Moreover, a petition should contain information that suggests its request is feasible.

Logical structure and concise communication

A quality petition will show a clear structure. It will normally have a section for background information called "the preamble” followed closely by the body of the petition which contains the "core petition text" and is the exact call for action - the request - that signers will be asked to support. Make sure that you use a well structured petition template that:

(1) describes the situation,
(2) suggests what is needed and why, and
(3) provides a concise and logical call to action - or refrain - the request.

Be clear and concise with your petition text. Don't clutter your petition with information or requests that have no essential connection to the main message. Read over your petition carefully.

There are many examples of excellent and well written petitions at GoPetition, so we suggest that you read some of the more popular petitions and use these as templates before you create a petition.

Privacy

Concerns about data collection and privacy in regard to e-petitions are important. At GoPetition personal details provided by signers are not used to send unsolicited e-mail, and are not sold to any 3rd party. We have the strictest privacy policy of any petition hosting site. Petition authors must agree to use e-signatures for legitimate purposes.

How to promote your petition

How you promote your petition will have a critical influence on the outcome of your campaign. Please refer to our help page or contact us for a free consultation.

Why start a petition?

Dating back to the reign of King Edward I, thirteenth century England, the presentation of a petition acted as a trigger for the creation of laws. Public petitions can be an important avenue for those who wish to influence parliamentary representatives. A well documented and supported petition will always have "persuasive" influence in all spheres of public policy making (and it matters not if a petition complies with strict parliamentary rules).

Petitions to other targets (non government) can also help to form or shape public opinion and ultimately bring about change. A successful petition will complement a campaign strategy that includes direct lobbying, letter writing and media exposure. GoPetition provides important resources to complement your overall campaign strategy.

Customer service

We are committed to quality customer service and advice. If you have any queries about how to write a petition, please contact us and we will reply as a matter of priority. If you need help to start your petition we can assist or provide feedback.

Ready to write a petition? Simply become a member of the GoPetition global community by clicking on the link below.

Get free membership and start your petition now

If you want to know more about this site, then you can read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) GoPetition has advanced editing software that allows you to add updates, news items, and other material to your petition at any time. You may also link to your website from your petition. We also allow you to display a picture with your petition. A free facebook message board is provided with every petition. For further information concerning how to make a petition, just refer to our FAQ or contact us.

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