Boosting more than 100 million users in 196 countries, Change.org seems ubiquitous in online campaigning, but the New York Times still has to ask in reference to online petitions: Are they effective?
At TEDxBrum, Kat Sladden, a senior campaigner at Change.org — the largest platform for creating petitions online — shares her tips on how to make a online petition take off: 1. Tell your story, 2. Build community, and 3. Focus on the “little big thing” which she explains means identifying a winnable ask. “Successful petitions always ask for something small,” said Sladden, citing the examples of a father with a sick son and (UK) petition for a woman on a bank note. “Focus on a small thing then multiple it,” she said and advises campaigners to identify a series of small victories instead of aiming for one big thing.
“No president is going to do an about-face on a major policy because of 20,000 signatures,” he wrote. “But coupling that petition with other tactics like protests, rallies, phone calls, face-to-face lobbying, a well-organized media plan and community outreach creates an environment in which the goals of the signatories can become reality,” according to Jason Del Gandio, a professor of communications and social movements at Temple University.
This is consistent with what Gail Ablow characterizes as a “theory of change” (Sign Here to Save the World: Online Petitions Explained) which is compared to short-term “feel-good” “theory of awesomeness” which makes you feel good, but has no sustained campaign elements and could be characterized as slacktivism.