...Run a distributed campaign with member-created petitions

Your organization wants to work on raising the minimum wage, but you know change is easier at the local level. Because you don’t have a list of communities to target, you want to run a campaign where members can start and run their own Raise the Minimum Wage campaigns, which are targeted to their local governmental officials. For supporters who are not interested in running their own campaigns, you want them to be able to easily search for and sign a petition in their area.

Setting Up the Campaign

To run this type of campaign, you can use ControlShift’s landing page feature. To get started, create a landing page. When creating this page you may want to consider the following:

  • Do you want to pre-fill some or all of the petition text? Within the landing page feature, you have the option adding text that will be pre-filled into the petition creation form when a user clicks to start a new petition under the landing page. You can use this setting in a few ways:

    • If you add default content to the “Petition Text” area of the landing page’s setup and lock the fields, petition creators will not be able to change the default text. This can be useful if you want all of the petitions in the landing page to have a consistent “what” or “why” fields.

    • You can also add default content to the “Petition Text” area of the landing page’s setup page, but leave the fields unlocked. When the landing page is set up this way, petition creators will be able to update your default text. This can be useful if you want to suggest default content, but allow for more personalization. In particular, many organizations allow the petition creator to edit the “why” section of the petition, which allows the creator to tell a personal story or make that section more relevant to their local area.

    • You can choose to leave any or all of the fields blank. This will allow for the most customization by petition creators, but may cause some petition creators to abandon the creation process. (Then again, this shows that they’re not overly committed to running the campaign.)

  • Do you want to include landing-page-wide signature totals on the individual petition pages and/or the landing page’s hub page? Including these totals may be useful in showing the full support behind the main ask of the campaign (ie. raising the minimum wage).

  • Do you want to ask for a location when users are creating new campaigns? By requiring a location for the campaign, it will make it easier for supporters to find and sign the petition targeting their community.


Recruiting Leaders

Once you’ve created a landing page, you need to inform your supporters so that they can begin running local campaigns. How can you solicit petition creators?

  • Send an email to your existing list directing them to the landing page’s hub page or the landing page’s petition creation page and ask them to start their own campaigns. While you can send this sort of email to your whole list, it may be more effective to send it to a specific segment of the list. Do you have a subset of members who have been active on issues of the economy, poverty, or workers rights? You could start with those members. Alternatively, if you have a list of members that have been particularly active – maybe they’ve attended rallies or they’re regular donors – you can start with these supporters. Remember that you can add a source code to the landing page’s petition creation page by adding ?source=foo to the end of the URL (where foo is the source code). This will allow you to see how many petition starts come from your solicitation email. 

  • Feature the campaign on your homepage and add a story to your homepage carousel. By clicking to feature the campaign (available in the landing page’s settings page), you’ll add the landing page’s hub page to the top of the featured campaigns column on the homepage. You can also feature the landing page more prominently by adding a story to the homepage carousel and linking to the landing page’s hub page or the landing page’s petition creation page. If you choose to link to the new petition page, you can add a source code to the URL (like: ?source=carousel).

  • Use social media. Use facebook, twitter, or tumblr to let your supporters know about the campaign.

  • Use related events. In running this Raise the Minimum Wage campaign, Democracy for America used movie nights to help publicize the campaign, while also increasing support for local petitions.

Publicizing the Campaign

While these strategies are tailored to soliciting petition starts, you can use many of them throughout the life of the campaign to publicize the effort and gather support. To gain additional support, you can consider:

  • creating a day of action using ControlShift’s calendar feature. With a calendar, you can pre-fill event data and then ask supporters to host or attend events. For this Raise the Minimum Wage campaign, you could encourage petition creators to host rallies in their cities on a certain day.

  • creating local groups for the most popular local petitions. For example, signers of the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign in Fresno could join the local Raise the Minimum Wage - Fresno group. This group of supporters can then work together on the Fresno campaign and potentially become more involved in other campaigns on your site as well.

Supporting Campaign Leaders

Once petitions have been created, you should work with the petition creators to support their campaigns. While individually contacting petition creators may be possible, it may also prove unsustainable as more petitions are created. To provide ongoing support, you could consider using one of the following strategies:

  • Use the ControlShift groups tool to create a group for campaign creators. Using the tool, these leaders will be able to discuss campaigns, ask questions, and share best practices. If an admin at your organization joins the group, you’ll be able to quickly keep track of emerging issues – which can help you with the current campaign and help you anticipate issues with future landing page campaigns.

  • Use your CRM to email all of the landing page’s petition creators and invite them to join you on a conference call or google hangout on air. This will allow you to quickly disseminate information about campaign milestones and priorities, as well as answer questions in real time.

  • Use your CRM to email all of the landing page’s petition creators to provide updates about milestones and successes. Seeing the successes of other campaigns may encourage petition creators to continue their campaigns.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to support campaign creators throughout the life of their campaigns, not just after initial launch. Plan regular check-ins with petition creators as the campaign progresses.

You can see the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign being run by DFA as well as read a case study of this campaign.


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