Miranda Becker / April 19, 2016

Two Big Ways Your Quest for Petition Signatures Could Surprise You

This post originally appeared on Care2 Causes.

If you’re going to take advice from anyone on how to convince more people to sign your petition, you should definitely listen to Bette.

Bettemarie Bonds, or “Bette” for short, is the author of a wildly popular Care2 petition asking Congress to pass a bill to fix a Medicare loophole that prevents patients from receiving IV infusion therapy at home. She’s been passionately advocating on behalf of people with IV infusions for years and is herself connected to IV infusions around the clock. What’s more, her petition has already collected more than 72,000 signatures and is still going strong.

And that’s no accident. Bette has been a resourceful and diligent champion for her petition, raising her campaign with everyone she meets — from people standing next to her in line, to members of the local rotary club, to administrators and students at nearby medical schools. She is not afraid to call anyone and everyone whom she thinks might be interested in hearing about her story, and regularly gives talks to everyone from manufacturers of IV tubing to Congressional policy aides. In fact, when the team here at Care2 asked Bette to speak on our recent Activist University webinar, her schedule was so full that we almost didn’t make it onto her calendar!

If you haven’t hear Bette speak yet, I encourage you to go listen to her advice on our webinar immediately. You won’t be disappointed! In the meantime, though, I want to share some of my favorite takeaways from what Bette shared with us when she discussed promoting her petition.

First, Bette taught us that networking to gain supporters for your campaign can sometimes take unexpected — but extremely beneficial — twists and turns.

If you’re contacting friends, local organizations or media in an effort to raise the profile of your petition, you’re probably just thinking about getting signatures, being mentioned in a news article or coordinating an event together. But sometimes your networking can result in information-gathering instead (surprise!).

According to Bette, that is absolutely not a bad thing. In fact, it’s important to be open to the tips and pointers you may receive while advocating for your issue. For example, while trying to drum up support for a bill that would give Medicare patients access to IV infusions at home, Bette has spent months contacting congressional staff. This is all part of her strategy to convince Senators and Representatives to promote this IV legislation, starting with the people who advise them on policy issues — in other words, their staff.

But while she was speaking with one policy aide recently, the staffer gave her an unexpected pearl of wisdom. During their conversation, the aide informed Bette that she needed to focus on getting Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah to approve of her bill first. Why? Because it turns out that this legislation would need to pass through a Senate committee that Hatch is the chairman of — and if he didn’t like the bill, it wouldn’t go anywhere.

Bette was not expecting to receive this type of tip from someone — but it changed everything. Instead of spending months targeting the wrong members of Congress on a futile quest, she was able to direct her focus on key players.

A second big lesson that Bette taught us is that petition promotion can create a sort of “snowball” effect where one initial speaking gig ends up leading to other speaking invitations and partnerships. After talking at a single event, audience members may remember you and ask you to visit a different group to share your petition story, or they may introduce you to someone else who can help you.

Because of her previous speaking appointments, Bette has been approached by individuals who work for the Digestive Disease National Coalition and others who planned a “rare diseases week” on Capitol Hill, asking her to join their lobbying efforts. Each time she joins forces with a new group of people, it not only heightens the visibility of her cause, but it also means the people she met will remember her and reach out to her. She may not be lobbying about fruits and vegetables, but that is some organic network-expansion!

So, don’t be surprised if working to promote your petition takes you to unexpected — but wonderful — places. The key to networking and partnering up with others is to be flexible and receptive to what you may learn. You’re building a movement after all, so it’s time to invite others in to join your cause!

If you want to see more great tips from Bette and our other speakers, go ahead and watch the webinar now! Don’t forget to also check out the top lessons we learned from her co-speaker Brandy here.

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