Action Tips: Write or Start a Petition

Girl signing petition

Writing a petition is a great way to encourage change or peacefully protest a policy. To get your petition started, ask yourself these four key questions:

1. WHAT…is the change you’d like see?

Describe the situation. What do you want to change about it? The more specific, the better. Instead of making a general call to “stop bullying” nationwide, petition your school or local city leaders to institute an anti-bullying policy.

Example: “Smoking is currently allowed right outside of day care centers in Miami. We'd like it to be banned in these areas.”

2. you want to change it?

What is the impact of this change? And why should OTHER people care about it? Most successful petitions resonate on an emotional level. Consider including a personal story, compelling photos, or a shocking statistic to ensure a wide range of public support for your cause.

Example: “Secondhand smoke kills 46,000 non-smokers a year, and children are more susceptible.”

3. you want to petition about it?

Who is able to effect the change you want? Your target should be a clearly-defined person, entity, or organization. Research to find those in the best position to make the impact you want to see (and potentially others who may influence them further). Petitioning specific school officials or student body leadership is a good idea if you’re proposing a smoking ban on your college campus. Petitioning my mom or President Obama about it, not so much.

Example: “Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.”

4. HOW...would you like them to make that change?

What are you actually asking your target to DO? Your petition should give them a clear, deliverable call to action. Asking someone to run a food drive is a much more effective request than asking them to just “end hunger.”

Example: “Institute a public health initiative that restricts smoking near day care centers in Miami.”

Once you’ve answered those, write up the petition! Set a target number of signatures (one that is realistic but persuasive) and come up with a plan to deliver the petition once it’s reached.

To see past ideas of our own petitions  or to sign a current one, check out our petitions page.

Questions? Email us at We want to help you help others.

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