Start by understanding what your decision maker cares about and what is most likely to influence them. Then engage your supporters to take action together to influence them. That way you can put pressure on your decision maker to act.

Know your Decision Maker


Reputational support

  • How does your decision maker want people to see them?
  • Whose opinion does your decision maker care about?
  • What news headline or celebrity statement would make them furious?

Raise the Bar, Hershey wanted the chocolate manufacturer to purchase Fairtrade cocoa. So they started a petition exposing the company for using child labor in its supply chain with images using company branding and a simple video.

Economic support

  • Who are their donors or funders?
  • Who lends them money or invests in their business?
  • Who are their customers, constituents, suppliers, and workers?

To influence the Boy Scouts of America to change their policy to accept gay scouts and leaders, Zach Wahls started a successful petition asking UPS to suspend their donations to the Scouts.

Moral support

  • Whose moral authority does your decision maker care about?
  • Who are the respected moral leaders in their community?
  • Who can provide moral clarity by taking a position on the issue?

Aberash Bekele was forced into marriage as a 14 year old girl. As a child victim of the practice of forced child marriage, Aberesh is able to exercise moral authority as a petition starter and activist when engaging with the White House and the public.

Position support

  • Who appointed them and can replace them?
  • Who has the power to direct them to make a change?
  • Whose support do they rely on to continue in their position?

When Nicholas Grillo, an ALS patient seeking faster drug approvals, hit a brick wall with the FDA, he asked supporters to call and email Senators on the committee supervising the agency. Senators agreed to talk to the FDA about faster approval and got the Nicholas meetings with the agency.  


Plan your tactics

Once you know what your decision maker cares about, you can plan tactics to engage your supporters to help you win.

Start with actions and asks for your petition signers that are simple and easy for them to do. As your campaign gains momentum you can ask signers to take actions that are more challenging, and can have more impact. As your signers learn more about your campaign and become more invested, they will be willing to do more to help.

When you make your campaign plan, think about any dates that are relevant to your petition like meetings, hearings or decisions, holidays and cultural events and even the weather. For example, you could:

  • Ask supporters to call your decision maker in the week before a meeting
  • Plan a Father’s Day action for a petition around funding men’s health services
  • Plan an outdoor rally in Boston in June rather than January. Brrr!

Don’t be afraid to adjust your plan to take advantage of unexpected opportunities too. For example, a big news story related to your petition or a response by your decision maker are great moments to ask your signers to take action. Be ready to act quickly if an opportunity comes up.

The petition update tool is an important tool that you can use to ask signers to take action on your petition:


Tactics bank

The types of tactics that you can use are limited only by your imagination, but here are some ideas to get you started.

Easy, introductory online actions
  • Share your petition and ask their friends and family to sign
  • Share an article on your petition on social media
  • Tweet at a decision maker or post on their Facebook wall

Ted Danson asked supporters to tweet at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to ask them not to approve Shell's offshore drilling plan in the antarctic using

  • Tweet at local or relevant journalists about the petition
  • Tweet at a celebrity and ask them to share your petition

Women's Health Magazine asked supporters to tweet at celebrities to request they share the magazine's petition for paid parental leave.

  • Join or create a Facebook group for the campaign
  • Email the decision maker directly about your petition
  • Email the investors, partners, customers or supporters of your decision maker about your petition
  • Take a survey to create data about your issue
  • Share a message of support

Morenike Giwa Onaiwu started a petition to drop a prosecution against a six year old autistic boy. Ahead of his trial Morenike asked signers to share messages of support.

“Hi Kayleb! You must be pretty upset with everything that's happened. I promise you your family is fighting for you and so are the THOUSANDS of us who love and care about YOU!  

Love and God bless - Helen"

  • Write an online review about the decision maker, for example on Yelp
  • Write a letter to the editor about your issue
  • Use an online complaints or feedback form
  • Ask signers to email you their personal story about the issue to use in lobbying meetings or media

Sarah Kruzan asked signers of her petition to fight sex trafficking in the U.S. to share their stories. Supporters came forward with powerful stories of their personal experiences. 

Higher commitment, more impactful actions
  • Call talk radio about your issue
  • Take a photo for the campaign

Frances, Gabriella and Laura asked supporters of their petition about sexist Victoria’s Secret ads to share images of themselves with the message #Iamperfect.

  • Join a conference call briefing on your petition
  • Distribute stickers about the campaign
  • Ask signers to change their social media profile photo to a campaign image
  • Ask signers to record a video message to the decision maker
  • Do a local delivery of the petition or a letter, for example to a Senator’s office or store
  • Phone a decision maker at their office

The Student Net Alliance asked supporters to call their representatives to ask them to protect net neutrality.

  • Send an object or gift to a Decision Maker
  • Ask signers to donate to buy a billboard, print ad or sky writing about the petition

Chris Mizanskey asked supporters of his petition for clemency for his father serving a life sentence for marijuana offences to donate to buy a billboard near the Governor’s home.


  • Phone an ally or opponent of your decision maker to publicly support the petition
  • Host a stunt at the office of your decision maker such as a nurse-in
  • Host a rally or vigil about your petition

Supporters of Baljot and Kanwar’s petition to bring hate crimes charges against attackers who allegedly beat their friend Inderjit Singh Mukker held a protest rally.

  • Attend a meeting with an investor, partner, customer or supporter of your Decision Maker
  • Attend a delivery of your petition with a delegation of your supporters

John Feal along with firefighters, police and John Stewart delivered more than 100,000 signatures to Washington DC in support of permanent reauthorization of benefits for first responders in 9/11.


Highest commitment, highest impact actions
  • Ask your Decision Maker a question at a public event
  • Hold a web broadcast about the petition

Brittany Byrd held a web broadcast for supporters of her petition to free Sharanda Jones, a woman serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time crack cocaine possession conviction. 

  • Write and submit an opinion piece about your petition to a newspaper
  • Offer professional services like graphic design, website design, or video production
  • Speak at a public forum like a school board or city council meeting

Omotayo Richmond asked his signers to attend a school board hearing to rename a High School in Jacksonville, FL named after the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • Ask signers to start their own petition targeting a local decision maker
  • Create a social media share graphic about your petition, for example using quotes from signers
  • Have a lobbying meeting with a person who is influential with your decision maker to tell them about your petition
  • Disrupt a public meeting, for example by unrolling a banner while your decision maker is speaking
  • Turn up at the Decision Maker’s public events in a costume
  • Hold your own rally or vigil about your petition
  • Create a video about the petition to send to your Decision Maker and share online

Charlesetta Taylor recorded a video message to her supporters when she won her campaign to save her family home from acquisition by the government.