10 Things to Consider When Selecting an Online Petition Tool

10 Things to Consider When Selecting an Online Petition Tool

As we’ve discussed, online petitions can be a great way to build support for an issue while also expanding your email list, even if you aren’t an advocacy organization. If you have decided to use a petition to gain support for your organization, now it’s time to select which service you work with, but how do you know if you are considering the right services? Tim Forbes of PICnet has outlined some areas you’ll want to consider and what questions you’ll need to ask when considering an online petition tool.


There are likely start up costs, but is there also an annual or monthly fee? Will it be sustainable for your organization’s budget moving forward? You’ll also want to be sure to find out if the price increases as you gain more supporters. You don’t want to break the bank while spreading the word about your petition.


If your goal is to build your email list, you’ll want to be very sure who owns the data you collect in the petition – the service or you. Additionally you’ll want to know if you need to pay for each signature to access the data or do you get those names as part of the cost of the service? When you get the information will you have full control over the data or is that process managed by the service? Make sure that a wildly successful petition campaign actually yields a wildly successful list of names in your mailing list without blowing your budget.


You’ll be putting effort into your petition campaign to drive traffic and create buzz. Is that effort ultimately winding up highlighting the brand of the service you’re using, or is it generating brand recognition and affinity for your own nonprofit?

User Experience

Before selecting a service be sure to check out examples of the service’s petition form itself and go through the process as a user. Is the experience pleasing? Is the setup clear and compelling? Does it make you want to sign it and to be associated with the nonprofit driving the campaign?


You want people thumbing out a signature while in line at the grocery store – not requiring them to be tied to their desktop. If the petition form doesn’t work as well on a mobile phone or tablet as on a desktop, you’re missing a major opportunity to reach donors and supporters where they’re at.

Social Sharing

Petitions should be as viral as the plague. The service needs to make it easy for them to be contagious so yours can turn into an online epidemic.

Website Integration

The tighter the integration with your website – on both the administrator and front end user sides – the less overhead you’ll have in managing the petitions, the easier they’ll integrate with other efforts as part of that complete path to gain more donors and supporters, and the more you’ll be assured you’re highlighting your brand.

CRM Integration

Getting signatures from your petition into your constituent relationship management (CRM) system should be easy and fast – and not create more work cleaning piles of duplicate data, and downloading and uploading CSV files.

Petition Creation

Can your staff create petitions easily and efficiently so you can react to breaking news that your supporters are fired up about? You want to be able to go from seeing a story on CNN to publishing a live petition on your site faster than it takes Wolf Blitzer to trim that beard.

Additional Tools

A petitions tool is just one element of a complete online strategy that moves supporters effectively and efficiently down the engagement path. What other tools are offered by the petitions service, do they work well with the petitions tool, and will they lead to more donors and supporters without breaking the bank?

We’ve given you a lot to think about, and we encourage you to read the full post on PICnet’s blog which provides even more information about petition service selection.


The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.

One comment

  1. There are so many tools that can be used for petitions. This post has great information on what to look for.

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