Have an idea about how to make the world a better place, but not sure where to start? Welcome to GetUp's Campaigns by Me Support.
By starting a petition on Campaigns by Me, you’re taking the first step in your campaign. A petition allows you to gather a list of supporters and show support for an issue. But in most cases, you’ll need to build a campaign around your petition in order to win change.
A campaign is made up of multiple steps and tactics that engage your supporters to put pressure on your decision maker. It begins with starting a petition, then progresses to include more actions like organising a stunt, writing Letters to the Editor, wrangling the media, and meeting with your decision maker — to name just a few.
The tips provided on this page come from more than 15 years experience running and winning GetUp campaigns, as well as supporting community campaigns like yours.
Below you’ll be taken step-by-step through the process of running a campaign: from writing a compelling petition, to putting pressure on your decision maker, through to winning your campaign. All of which can be organised through your Campaigns by Me account.
1. Start your petition
You’re passionate about an issue, which is great! But before you create your petition, you need to think strategically about the goal of your petition and the decision maker to target.
What are you hoping to achieve? Your goal should be clear, concrete, and winnable. Instead of campaigning to “Stop climate change”, choose a more specific, solution-oriented goal such as more local investment in renewable energy or stopping the opening of a new coal mine.
Who has the most power to create change on your issue? Your decision maker is the person with the ultimate power to create change on your issue and could be anyone from your local MP through to a company CEO. Be as specific as you can when naming a decision maker. This will help hold the right person to account and make it harder for them to shift responsibility onto others.
This is the first thing people will read so make sure it’s clear, short (under 7 words), and sums up your campaign. Great petition titles are solution-focused and start with a verb, e.g. “Ban logging koala habitats in Port Macquarie” or “Don’t shut down Bexley swimming pool”. They also include the place name if relevant.
Whom are you petitioning?
This is where you enter the specific decision maker who you researched and identified in the Think about your decision maker section above. Make sure you include their full title along with their name, e.g. “NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard”.
What do you want them to do?
This is where you explain what you’re calling on the decision maker to do. It’s a clear and snappy explanation of the problem and what you’re calling on the decision maker to do (often this repeats your petition title). Try to keep this short at 1-2 paragraphs.
Why is this important?
In a few paragraphs, make your case for why other people should sign your petition. Describe the problem in more detail, why it matters, and why people signing this petition is important. It’s often really effective to include a personal story too, either about you or someone you know who’s been directly affected by the issue. If relevant, it may also help to include some statistics or choice quotes from research.
Remember: you don’t have to be an expert in order to create a compelling petition. Often what motivates people to join a campaign is empathising with how you’ve described the issue in your own words and why it means something to you.
Add a petition image
Never underestimate the power of a simple image. Adding an image will draw people into your petition and help it get shared on social media. Your petition image should be relevant to your campaign and sum up the issue as well as possible, e.g. if your petition is about banning plastic bags, add an image of a plastic bag! But make sure you have permission to use your image. There are lots of free images on the internet you could download and use too, including stock images on sites like Unsplash or Shutterstock.
ℹ️ Need to make changes to your petition? No worries. Go to your petition, click Edit Petition, make the changes you need, and click Save.
2. Share & grow your petition
Once you’ve launched your campaign, your number one priority is to gather support for your petition. The number of signatures you should aim for depends on your issue. For example, if you’re petitioning your local council to plant more trees on your street, 100 or so signatures might be all it takes to show broad support. On the other hand, if you’re calling on a major, national supermarket to reduce single use plastic, then you may need signatures in the tens of thousands to get their attention.
Facebook and Twitter are great places to spread the word about your petition and make it really easy for people to share your petition. All you have to do is write a short message about what the petition is calling for, why it matters to you, and include a link to the petition. For every person that shares your petition, around 100 others on average will see it. That’s a lot of people reading your petition!
Email is a good way to reach people who might not use Facebook or Twitter regularly. Don’t be afraid to make your email personal and show how much you care about the campaign – people are more likely to take a look at your petition if they know it means a lot to you.
Can you think of any groups or organisations who also care about this issue? Reach out to them via email, social media, or phone and ask them to share your petition with their networks. As long as your petition is well-written and values-aligned, a lot of groups will be happy to give your petition a plug — they may even be interested in partnering with you!
Did you know you can collect signatures on paper in-person and then enter them into your Campaigns by Me petition? This is useful for petitions with a local issue focus — you could collect signatures by hosting a stall at a market or a busy pedestrian location.
To do this, just go to your petition, click Collect signatures on paper, and either print a blank form or enter your petition signatures once collected.
Once a decent number of people have signed your petition, it's a good idea to email your supporters and ask them to share your petition with their networks. You can do this by going to your petition, then clicking Email Supporters. Here you’ll also find a great template email you can use for this very purpose.
As your petition gains support, it’s a good idea to email your supporters a few times asking them to re-share your petition. Significant milestones and events in your campaign are a great opportunity to re-energise your supporters to share your petition again — whether that’s because you’re 100 signatures away from reaching 5,000, the campaign has been featured in the media, or you’ve booked a meeting with the decision maker.
3. Organise your supporters to build pressure
Asking your supporters to share your petition is just the first step. Your supporters (a.k.a. your people power) are the most powerful tool in your campaign. If someone’s signed your petition, it means they really care about the issue. It also means they’ll probably want to hear from you if there’s progress on the issue, an important milestone has been reached, or there are opportunities to get more involved. Keep your supporters engaged by asking them to take part in future tactics and actions, like the many listed below.
Rallies, protests, and stunts are useful for drawing attention to your campaign and putting pressure on the decision maker to respond. All you have to do is create an event via your Campaigns by Me petition and invite your supporters to join you.
The kind of rally, protest, or stunt you organise depends on the issue you’re fighting for. If you’re campaigning for more mental health funding, then you might organise an evening candlelit vigil outside the relevant minister’s office. If you’re calling on a corporation to remove a dangerous ingredient from their product, you might opt for a noisy protest outside their main headquarters with megaphones, props, and handmade signs.
Events don’t have to take up a lot of time. Often 30 minutes is all you need to organise the participants who’ve turned up, make a small speech, take whatever action is relevant to the event, and capture some photos. You also don’t need a lot of people: in many cases 10-20 people is enough to make an impact.
Colourful events like this are a magnet for the media! They provide great photo opportunities, people on hand to interview, and a new angle for reporting on the issue. (You can find a media release template under Alert the media.)
💡Tips for organising an event:
- On Campaigns by Me, create an event linked to your petition to make it easy to manage and communicate with your attendees.
- Lock in as many basic event details as possible before inviting your supporters (e.g. time, date, place, what kind of action or event it is). This way people know what they are signing up to.
- Invite your supporters to attend the event 1-2 weeks in advance.
- If your event is well-communicated and organised, you should expect about 30% of the people who RSVP to turn up on the day.
- Share your event invite wider using social media and email and invite your attendees to do the same.
ℹ️ Once your petition has gathered more than 100 signatures, you can organise events via your Campaigns by Me petition. Go to your petition, and click Organise Event to create an event page for supporters to RSVP to. The event toolset allows you to manage your attendees, email all of your supporters an invitation, and send updates to those who’ve RSVP’d. You can organise as many events as you need!
Many government bodies and NGOs seek community input when making decisions and preparing reports on important issues. Is there an opportunity to input on a decision or report that impacts the issue you’re campaigning on? Get your supporters involved by sending them an email with: an explanation of what you’re asking them to do, some tips on what to write, and a link to the submission form.
Some years ago, the Federal Department of Environment opened a submissions process into redrawing marine park boundaries in Australia’s south-west. Many people were concerned that submissions would be dominated by corporate fishing groups and mining companies. So, local groups and community members organised together to offset that influence by submitting hundreds of personal stories about living in this part of the country and their relationship with the ocean.
Does a group or organisation your campaign is trying to influence hold meetings that are open to constituents or the public? Local councils, for example, are one kind of institution that does. If this applies to your campaign, you could invite supporters to attend, ask questions, or even vote on decisions. Just make sure any responses are carefully recorded, as you never know what might be said!
This is especially useful for petitions with a local issue focus.
A stall at a market or busy pedestrian location gives you the
opportunity to talk to people about the issue and collect more
signatures on paper. Just go to your petition, click
Organising to meet with a relevant elected representative is a useful pathway to having your issue raised at a local council meeting or in Parliament. The aim is for this elected representative to become a champion for your issue, and to use their profile to bring attention to it in the media. It’s important to do some research on which elected representative is most relevant to your issue, and to make sure they would be receptive to and likely supportive of your campaign.
*Note: This advice only applies if the elected representative
is not your decision maker. If they are, find tips for holding
this meeting in the section
💡 Tips for booking a meeting with an MP or Senator:
- Email their office requesting a 30 minute meeting.
- Make sure to state you’re a constituent.
- Include the reason you’d like a meeting, a summary of your campaign, and the community support behind it.
- Follow up their office with an email, and then a phone call if a few days have passed without hearing from them. Then follow up, follow up, follow up.
- Expect to be given a meeting date about 4-6 weeks away from the date you reached out.
- Request to take a photo of yourself with your MP or Senator at the end of the meeting.
- Email your supporters to update them about how it went, including the photo (which you can also share with the media).
Letters to the Editor are very short letters submitted by members of the public about an issue and published in the newspaper. Nearly all newspapers include this section, and most invite submissions on a weekly basis. Asking your supporters to submit Letters to the Editor can be a great way to get a message across to the relevant decision maker. Politicians are notorious for poring over this newspaper section because it provides a quick snapshot of community sentiment and a temperature check on topical issues.
💡 Tips for Letters to the Editor:
- Pick the newspaper or publication that is most relevant and strategic for your issue. If your issue is a local one, target your local paper. With the state and national newspapers, it’s much harder to get published — so make sure your issue is topical at the time and relevant to that readership. For a lot of issues, targeting a smaller newspaper with a more targeted readership may be more strategic.
- Check out their Letters to the Editor page for specific requirements, like word limit.
- Email your supporters and ask everyone to submit their own Letter to the Editor (quantity matters!).
In your email, include a link to the page where supporters can
submit their letters, the word limit, and tips for what to
“Supporters, please include:
- Your name and suburb.
- The main message of the campaign, e.g. [Decision maker] must allocate more funding for Croydon Women’s Shelter.
- Why this issue is important to you.”
4. Alert the media
Wrangling media attention for your campaign should be a priority, as this will put pressure on your decision maker, raise more awareness for your issue, and prompt more people to join your campaign. It’s important to be realistic and strategic about the kind of media attention your campaign could attract. For example, a local campaign is not very likely to be featured in a state-wide newspaper, but local media might be really hungry for the story.
When reaching out the media, make sure there’s a hook. It’s not enough to alert the media of the simple fact you’ve started a campaign. You’ll need to be able to share a special milestone or event too, e.g. reaching a certain number of signatures, sharing that a high-profile person has come out in support of your campaign, or inviting the media to an upcoming protest or stunt.
Events like protests, stunts, or petition deliveries are a prime opportunity for media engagement. They provide great photo opportunities, people on hand to interview, and a new angle for reporting on the issue. So make sure you reach out to the media to invite them to attend your event. Even if they don’t turn up, make sure to reach out again after the event and share a few great photos. This could be very appealing for an overstretched news team.
5. Deliver your petition to the decision maker
By this point you’ve grown your petition to a respectable number of signatures and built pressure on your decision maker by engaging your supporters in a variety of tactics and actions. Now is the time to organise a meeting with your decision maker and deliver your petition. You can print out your petition by going to your petition, clicking Deliver Petition, and then clicking Download printable petition.
Keep in mind that in many cases, delivering your petition does not signal the end of your campaign. Instead, it’s a tactic to put more pressure on your decision maker.
Ideally, you can deliver your petition to the decision maker in-person, which means you’ll need to request a meeting. Even if your decision maker is very high-profile and unlikely to have time for a meeting, it’s still worth putting in a request. They might instruct someone in their office to meet with you in their place, which is still a great outcome.
💡Tips for booking a meeting:
- Put in an email request for a 30-minute meeting.
- In your email, include the reason you’d like a meeting, a short explanation of the campaign you’re running, the changes you’d like to see, and the community support behind it.
- Follow up their office with an email, and then a phone call if a few days have passed without hearing from them. Then continue to follow up, follow up, follow up.
- If a meeting is likely, expect to be given a meeting date about 4-6 weeks on from the date you reached out.
- At the end of the meeting, request to take a photo with the decision maker and the petition.
- Email your supporters to update them on how it went, and include a photo if you have one.
If you get a meeting with a decision maker and would like help preparing, the Campaigns by Me team would love to help. Reach out at XXX@XXXX.org.au.
You don’t need a meeting to deliver your petition. In fact, you can make quite a statement by delivering the petition to a politician’s office or company’s headquarters if they’ve declined. You don’t need to book an appointment to do so: you can just drop off the petition at the front desk.
In this scenario, it’s strategic to think about the petition delivery in the same way as the events described in the section Organise a rally, protest or stunt.
💡 Tips on organising a petition delivery:
- Start by reading the tips in the section Organise a rally, protest or stunt.
- Create an event linked to your petition on Campaigns by Me and invite your supporters to attend.
- A petition delivery stunt will likely take 15-20 minutes. Once supporters turn up (ideally with handmade signs and props) outside the office or headquarters, give a short speech and then take a group photo together along with the petition.
- It’s best if only one or two people enter the actual building to drop off the petition.
- Make sure you invite the media along to the event and, if they don’t attend, share photos with them after the event. Read more tips and find a media release template in the section Alert the Media.
ℹ️ How about turning your printed petition into an attention-grabbing prop? You could deliver the petition in a large jazzed-up box or turn each signature into a symbol to emphasise the message. For example, the organisers behind a past Campaigns by Me petition delivered 35,000 paper fish to Parliament House in a fishing net to protest overfishing. Each fish represented one of the signatories of the campaign.
6. Next steps on your campaign
This means your decision maker has agreed to make the changes you’re calling for. Well done! Make sure you update your supporters and alert the media using the tips in the section Alert the Media. But don’t take your foot off the gas yet. Decision makers sometimes agree to things in order to make the issue blow over, and then drag their feet on putting it into action.
To avoid this, make sure they’ve agreed to the changes in writing or via some other record, you’ve agreed on a specific timeline for implementing the changes, and you follow them up regularly to check on progress.
If your decision maker refuses to respond, accept a meeting, or agree to make the changes you’re calling for, don’t worry: bad news like this can actually be very motivating for your supporters. Why not email your supporters and ask them to put pressure on the decision maker by contacting them directly? One person might be easy to ignore or say no to, but dozens, hundreds, or thousands are not!
You could invite your supporters to email or call your decision maker’s office. You could ask your supporters to email your decision maker as a first step (as writing an email is less daunting), then ask them to make a call if your decision maker refuses to budge.
People will only write an email or make a call if you include all the information they need in your email.💡 Here’s things to include:
- An update on where you’re at with the decision maker
- What you’d like people to do (email or call)
- The decision maker’s email address or phone number
- Talking points for people to use, such as:
- "Introduce yourself
- The main campaign message, e.g. “[Decision maker] must remove dangerous ingredient from kids play dough.”
- What you’re calling on the decision maker to do, e.g. “I’m disappointed you have refused to comment on why this ingredient is still in production and given no timeline for removing it. Please respond to community concern immediately.”
- Why this issue is important to you personally"
This means your decision maker has taken the action required to create the change you’ve been fighting for. Congratulations!
Declare your campaign won by going to your petition, clicking Settings, then End Campaign at the bottom of the page, and then clicking We won. You’ll be asked to add a few sentences explaining how your campaign was won — these will be highlighted at the top of your petition for everyone to see.
Email your supporters and let them know the good news! You’ve likely inspired quite a few supporters along the way, so now is a good time to reflect on the campaign and remind them of all the steps you’ve taken together. What lessons have you learnt? What would you do the same or differently next time? What tips do you have for others wanting to start their own campaign?
Let the Campaigns by Me team know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (note this inbox will be active from 18/11/20). We’d love to hear your reflections, more about how you’ve won, and share your story with the GetUp membership.