What is faster than a signature? Running a successful petition drive! The fastest way to gain a large number of supporters and to be able to show your legislators just how many supporters you have is by holding a petition drive.
For any organization that needs to advocate on its own behalf, a petition drive is a great option that fits well into an overall advocacy program. Here at HealthNet, we MADE time for a petition drive this year. Leading up to the May 8th Indiana Presidential Primary, a staff run petition drive was held in each one of our 8 health center locations throughout the month of April. A team of volunteers at each location decided the best way to gain signatures:
- Collection during patient visits
- Collection as patients checked out
- Talking to the community and knocking on doors to collect as many signatures as possible
Each center had its own method. Even I had my own method of gaining signatures… through an online form on our Facebook page! The HealthNet petition drive was so successful that we gained 3,200 signatures on our petition showing support for expanded Health Center Program funding and the protection of Medicaid funding and resources.
In addition to the outpouring of community support we garnered, another great aspect of this petition drive was that it gave HealthNet a reason to get our legislators out to our centers to see the wonderful things that occur with their own eyes. While we could not get any of our legislators to come out (they were all booked), we were able to meet with staffers who work for them. Petitions were hand delivered to Representative André Carson’s office as well as Senator Richard Lugar’s office. We were able to show off our newest centers to Senator Dan Coat’s Central Indiana Regional Director, Ginny Cain. We had a wonderful time showing her around our three newest construction projects – Barrington, Southwest and People’s – and when it got down to business, we were able to hand deliver the petitions at the close of the meeting!
Our meetings gave us an opportunity to develop our relationship with key congressional staffers and maintain a direct line of communication with our Members of Congress. Not only is a petition drive a great way to show your legislators how many supporters you have, but it is an even better way to hold yourself accountable to creating meetings with legislators/staff.