How to get petitions signed

Getting petitions signed is a good way to demonstrate the support of thousands of people up and down the country for a greener RBS. This guide has been put together by students to share their ideas and top tips for getting 1000s of people to sign your Clean RBS petition.

Many thanks to students from Edinburgh University P&P for these suggestions. If you have other suggestions and ideas to add, please email them in

Placard: RBS invest in clean energy (Please)

protest at RBS AGM

Go to where people are – don’t make them come to you

Lecture announcements

Before students go into a lecture hall, place an action card or petition sheet on each desk. Then, right before the lecture, make an announcement about it, tell people to sign it and pass it forward. Collect them all at the end. (Be sure to ask the lecturer beforehand whether this is OK.) This is a great way to talk to loads of people at once.

Door knocking at halls

Student halls are great places to speak to people, because everyone lives so close together. Get a group of P&Pers to go to the halls, knock on people’s doors, and talk to them about the issue, while getting petitions signed.

Target busy areas on your campus

Think about where there are masses of students, and where it’s ok to approach people and talk a bit. You could try computer labs, union bars and cafes or even just walking around your main square or area.

Choose your time, place and audience:

  • Think strategically about when and where you will be able to get a significant number signed.

  • Think about other groups, either at your university or in your city, who have similar interests and would be inclined to sign. For example, the Green Society, Amnesty society, or an NGO.

  • Ask other societies whether you can come to one of their meetings and give a shout-out at the end about the cards.

  • If they are planning a big event, ask if you can come and have a stall with the petition, or just wander around and get it signed.

  • Think of all the events your group is already planning as good opportunities for signing: If you’re doing an action outside your RBS branch, take along the petition, talk to people passing by, and ask them to sign.

  • If you’re having a film night, bring the petition and collect signatures as people leave.

  • If you’re protesting RBS being at your Careers Fair, bring along the petition, and as you tell people what’s wrong with RBS, get them to sign.

  • Plan more events especially for card signing: Host a film night, perhaps screening new films about tar sands. Advertise the event well in advance, to get as many people to come as possible. Maybe have some discussion after, talking about how RBS funds tar sand extraction. And of course, get the petition signed! Consider linking up with your uni’s film society for this event, to get more people along.

  • Have a People & Planet meeting about RBS. Get petitions signed there, and plan more events for increasing signatures.

Getting people’s interest and persuading them to sign:

You will want to take different approaches when addressing different people: for example, when making a lecture announcement you may have to be more concise and attention-grabbing than when talking to an interested society. Approaching random people at your uni may be the most difficult, but follow the tips below and make adjustments for different audiences.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Choose your target. Smile, look them in the eye, and approach them with a friendly opening line, such as:

“Hi. I’m working on a campaign to stop the Royal Bank of Scotland using public money to fund climate change. Can I please tell you a bit about it, and get you to sign this petition?” (It might be good to mention you’re not asking for any money.)

  • Practice what you’re going to say beforehand.

  • Pick out the main points you want to get across, that you think will convince people to sign.

  • Be concise. Remember that many people will never have heard of the campaign, and won’t even know that RBS invests in fossil fuels, so you’ll have to explain from the beginning (albeit very briefly).

Here’s a sample of what you could say:

“RBS funds the more fossil fuel projects and companies than any other bank in the UK. This makes them a huge contributer to climate change. Climate change is accepted to be the worst threat of our time; senior politicans have announced that the UK must “move [its] whole economy to one that is low carbon.” Taxpayers now own 70% of RBS, through the Treasury. We shouldn’t let RBS use our money to continue fossil fuel extraction, when we know we need to be transitioning to a low carbon economy. That’s why we’re collecting all these signatures to give to the Chancellor, telling him that the Treasury should not allow RBS to fund projects that contribute to climate change. Instead, they should encourage RBS to redirect their money into renewable energy projects, helping lead the way into a greener economy, and a greener future. Could you please fill one out? …Thank you very much.”

  • Be confident. If you feel embarrassed, just remind yourself how important it is that we get RBS to stop destroying the planet, and how awesome you are for helping out the campaign. Also, remember that students across the country are doing the same thing.

Other points you might want to get across:

  • RBS funds more fossil fuel projects and companies than any other bank in the UK.

  • They fund projects that cause massive environmental destruction, such as drilling for oil in the previously untouched Arctic, where oil companies are buying the land away from indigenous people, destroying their ways of life and threatening the existence of many species.

  • Many of the projects they fund has been linked to human rights abuses and accused of exacerbating conflict. For example, they fund oil exploration on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where fighting over resources has been continuing for more than a decade, and has recently displaced 30,000 people.

More info about these and other examples of RBS investments

  • Climate change is accepted to be the worst threat of our time. Gordon Brown has described it as “the most momentous and far reaching challenge we have ever faced as a world”, and David Miliband announced that the UK must “move [its] whole economy to one that is low carbon.”

  • However, RBS continues to fund fossil fuel extraction projects, which means that fossil fuels are going to continue to be burnt, exacerbating climate change.

  • We are not yet transitioning to a low carbon economy, even if we are beginning to use a bit of renewable energy. This is not replacing fossil fuels: just as much polluting fuel is still being burnt.

  • To make it even worse, RBS is now using taxpayers money to fund climate change. We now own 70% of RBS, through the Treasury, and should have a say in what RBS does with our money.

  • The Treasury should not allow RBS to fund projects that contribute to climate change and violate human rights. They should encourage RBS to redirect their money into renewable energy projects. RBS could become a bank that is leading the transition to a low carbon economy.