This post is part of the People’s Insights monthly briefs issue of January 2014.
Change.org is the world’s largest petition platform and empowers people to create the change they want to see. 50 million people in 196 countries use this platform to transform communities.
Change.org was founded in 2007 to help activists in mobilizing people for change by creating petitions. It has given voice to individuals and has catalyzed the shift in power to the masses. Through the years, the site has gone through a lot of transitions. Today, it has a business model which uses business for social good.
Anyone can go to Change.org and create a petition. “Petitions are just the start,” says UK campaigns director Brie Rogers Lowery. “They have to have a compelling story, a tangible ask and be mobilising the people who sign it. Rarely is a petition just going to win on its own.”
The Change.org editorial team helps generate campaigns that not only attract the attention of the media, but also engage the public, who then go on to spread the petition through social media.
Change.org Success Stories
People have used Change.org to pressure governments and companies to change course.
For instance, one woman created a petition against the disturbing practice of “corrective rape” in South Africa and gathered support from 171,000 people in 175 countries. She then mobilized people to protest in front of the parliament. Due to the international pressure the South African government agreed to launch a National Task Team to end “corrective rape”. In India, Change.org petitioners pressured the government to regulate the sale of acid in the open market. In the US, petitioners pressured the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council to end their ban on gay youth.
In addition to fueling political debates and better laws, Change.org has also given voice to the consumer. Many petitions have led brands to change their policies to better reflect the interests of their customers. For instance, when Bank of America decided to introduce a $5 monthly fee on its debit card, a petition was raised against the fee. 306,890 people joined in the campaign, fueling the national movement against the charge. In less than a month the bank dropped the fee.
People have also used Change.org to pressure The Bank of England, US telecom companies SPRINT and Verizon, Google, Apple, and Seventeen Magazine to change their policies. Currently, people have created petitions against M&M’s Candies, Johnson & Johnson, Coca- Cola, Walmart and Amazon.
New face of social activism
Change.org has leveraged the power of personal stories and the viral nature of social media to direct the attention of people to various causes. It offers supporters a range of actions – they can get contribute to change through a simple virtual signature, by sharing the petition online or by taking to the streets. Change.org’s new Decision Maker tool allows people to direct their petition to the decision maker (such as an elected official or business representative) and allows the decision maker to respond directly.
As Forbes’ Emily Canal notes, Change.org “is trying to alter the way people communicate with elected officials” – and potentially brands too.
About People’s Insights
100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects – that are driving engagement with stakeholders – on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every month, we pick the best projects and analyse conversations around them, on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself and also on the broader social web, into an insights report. Every quarter, we compile original insights from the MSLGROUP global network into the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine.
In our first year and half, we focused on inspiring consumer projects around social data, crowdsourcing, storytelling and citizenship. We synthesized the insights to provide foresights for business leaders and change-makers in the ten-part People’s Insights annual report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, also available as a Kindle eBook and an iPad app.
In 2013, we launched “The Future of” series with a focus on Citizenship, Money and Employee (Re)Engagement. In 2014, we continue to track inspiring projects that are shaping the future of engagement, with a focus on reputation, employee engagement and citizenship.