Online Petitions and Email Campaigns

In addition to the tools introduced in the social media materials throughout the program, such as blogs, online communities, and RSS feeds, online petitions and email campaigns are two more ways to communicate with and mobilize your support network.

Online Petitions with

In recent years the online petition site has been successful in leveraging the power of the Internet to mobilize a broad audience. On this site anyone can create a global petition to demand the change most important to their community. For example, in 2011 an activist named Ndumie Funda created a petition to pressure the South African government to address “corrective rape.” In a short time 171,000 people signed from 175 countries! Bowing to all of this pressure, the South African Parliament established a National Task Team to confront the problem. Another example of success through a petition is from Ecuador. In this country there used to be a network of clinics where lesbian women endured physical and emotional abuse, even sexual assault and torture, in an effort to “cure” them of their homosexuality. All of this changed when human rights group Fundacion Causana started an online petition, which gathered over 100,000 signatures from around the world in a short time. The group had been working for 10 years to pressure the government to respond to this crisis, but with the support of a global network thanks to, Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health finally responded and is working to close the clinics, and even launched a national advertising campaign against homophobia. You can read more about this story here. For more examples of victories, visit Petition creators can now access a library of “How-To” guides to help you learn best practices for writing a petition, defining a target, and more. Take your time to read through the set of useful tips to make your petition more successful! Be sure to spread awareness about any new petition on PulseWire, other Social Networks, and of course, through email to your friends and colleagues. For more advice on building an effective Email Campaign, read on!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Email Campaigns

Email address: Create an email address specifically for your project, organization, or campaign. Your email address should be easily identifiable with your project such as CC stands for Carbon Copy. Email addresses entered in this box will be visible to all recipients. If you have more than 20 recipients, or if the recipients do not know each other, it is usually a good idea to use BCC. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. Any email address in this box will receive a copy of the email but the address will remain hidden to all other recipients. Forwarding: When forwarding an email, delete any unnecessary information or addresses. Subject: Chose a subject line that is short, catchy and relevant. Attachments: Avoid sending attachments with mass emails. This increases the likelihood that your email will be marked as spam. Content: Create a strong, yet concise, message with concrete goals.

  • Identify a specific action that your allies and supporters can take to help you achieve these goals. Limit yourself to one clear action per email campaign.
  • Speak from your experience. Personalizing an issue or event is often the key to motivating people to move from listening and empathizing to changing their neighborhoods and their world.
  • Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and section headings to make it easier to read quickly.
  • Include hyperlinks to your website or to websites that can provide more information or resources. A hyperlink is a web address that can be clicked on. When you enter a web address, or URL, into an email, most email providers automatically turn the web address into a hyperlink.
  • Be sure to include your contact information such as email address, website address, and the telephone number and address of the organization if available.
  • Again, the key to improving your open rate and keeping supporters engaged is a good subject line, and a clear, personal message of 3 to 4 paragraphs asking for a focused action.
  • Finally, always test your email action alert by sending it to your personal email account first.

Avoiding Spam Filters

Often using all capital letters in a subject line, bcc-ing too many individuals, or using a number of trigger words can be a red flag for a spam filter. Your urgent, carefully worded email can easily be filed away to a spam folder instead of reaching the inboxes of your supporters. Some of the most common triggers are listed here: The following websites offer free anti-spam utilities that analyze your email, identify issues, and then make recommendations that may help reduce the likelihood that your email will be marked as spam.

MailChimp is an excellent tool for managing email lists and executing an email campaign. The free account will allow you to send up to 3,000 emails a months to up to 500 contacts.