Planning Your Victory with Change.org
By Land Wilson
Beginning in the spring of 2012, I had the privilege of being part of a petition started by 40 kids from a lunchtime green team club that I guide at my kids’ elementary school. When we started talking about the large quantities of Crayola plastic markers tossed out year after year, the kids could easily relate. Crayola makes approximately ½ billion plastic markers a year – enough to circle earth more than 3 times. As we talked more about our markers going into landfills, incinerators, and oceans, it was upsetting to think that we were polluting and wasting plastic. When Crayola told us that there was nobody we could speak with at the company about our concerns, the “Crayola, Make Your Mark!” petition by Mr. Land’s “Kids Who Care” was born.
According to Jason Barnaby, Empowerment Specialist at Change.org, “Your petition is your story and how you tell your story will make the difference in how many people sign, whether the press covers it, and whether you win. Winning petitions have four ways of telling a great story: sharing your own story of change in the body of the petition, getting your petition to the right decision maker, using the best image, and writing a great title.
Here is everything we did:
1. Created a short catchy title.
2. Told our fears and hopes in three concise paragraphs.
3. Expressed kids voices with quotes, artwork, letters, and a 2-minute video. The petition was an opportunity for people to hear directly from our future generations.
4. We used a powerful image of what looked like an infinite number of Crayola markers on the ground.
5. We included this powerful fact, “Every year, Crayola makes about half a billion markers — enough markers to wrap around the earth more than three times!”
6. Being positive worked for us. The letter from our signers reads: “I love Crayola products and I am a Crayola fan.”
7. We offered to be part of the solution. This demonstrated our commitment to the issue. For take-back programs to work, kids, parents, and schools must collect and send in their markers.
8. We searched for supporters. This included friends, family, bloggers, other schools, environmental groups, and a local celebrity. We built a coalition.
9. We engaged with the media to amplify our message. We knew we had to get the attention of the media if we were going to get the attention of Crayola, so we reached out to reporters, websites, and people who covered stories like ours. We used a press release for any major developments.
10. We used our petition news feed often. This kept people up to date and was a great chronicle of developments.
11.We didn’t quit. We took the approach that we’d keep on going until Crayola said yes.
Over time, people started reaching out to us. This included schools, more media, politicians, and Dixon Ticonderoga, a Crayola competitor who met with us and proactively launched a take-back program for their plastic markers. After a yearlong campaign and 92,000 signatures, Crayola announced their ColorCycle program. Now, thanks to the Kids Who Care and everyone that supported them, nearly 1,000 schools have enrolled in the Dixon and Crayola take-back programs.
So, if you are passionate about a cause and feel that a petition is the right tool for you, go for it! Hopefully what’s been shared can help you jumpstart your campaign.
Land Wilson was a recent guest on Mrs. Green’s World along with and Marianna Stanley, student at Sun Valley Elementary. Listen to the podcast now.