Innovating for Greater Impact

We’re constantly innovating for greater impact. Whether it’s designing new tools or developing our platform in new parts of the world, we’re committed to empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see.

A global empowerment platform that serves tens of millions of users in more than 150 countries requires substantial resources, so we also need to innovate the ways we fund our work. As a certified B corp, we’re part of a new class of companies dedicated to positive impact. We already have a business model that allows us to scale, but we are also exploring other revenue streams to further accelerate growth and build more free tools to create change.

We’re excited to be beta-testing a new subscription service which for now we’re calling WorldChangers. We have heard loud and clear that some of our most active users want a broader range of ways to get involved in Change.org petitions. This service is still under development, but will allow those users to further support petitions they care about, test new tools before others, and learn about some of the incredible changemakers in our network.

For more information or to sign up for the beta-test of WorldChangers, contact us.

More Victories On Change.org!

Did you know that more than 13 million people have experienced victory through Change.org? Here are some international victories that our users reported in the past few weeks:

  • Australia’s Curtin University was poised to eliminate Chinese, Japanese, and Asian Studies majors from its humanities curriculum. Then Moshe Yehuda Bernstein launched his petition asking for the majors to be saved – and it won. (792 supporters, Perth, Australia)

  • After this petition gained hundreds of signatures, a half-Brazilian teen accused of throwing rocks at Israeli officials was officially released. (344 supporters, Anápolis, Brazil)

  • In the US, Google offers most charities free or discounted use of Google Apps. But the same offer was not available to United Kingdom charities – until a digital communications agency, White Fuse Media, won its Change.org petition! (346 supporters, London, UK)

  • AntiSerbism Monitoring, an anti-defamation organization, saw its Facebook page shut down after it re-posted an instance of hate speech in an effort to raise awareness. After gaining 1,000 signatures on a petition in just 3 days, the organization succeeded in getting Facebook to reactivate its page! (1,266 signatures, Novi Sad, Serbia)

You can find more victories won on Change.org here.

Petition Victory In India As Government Regulates Acid

Every year, approximately 1,000 people in India are attacked, disfigured, and sometimes killed with acid. 

But two days ago, acid attack survivor Laxmi won a significant victory on Change.org: the Indian government announced it will regulate the sale of acid.

One week ago, 23-year-old Laxmi started her Change.org petition calling on the government to regulate acid. Three days ago, she delivered more than 27,000 signatures to the Indian Home Minister. The next day, her petition won.

According to reports, retailers will now need permission and licenses to sell acid, and buyers will need to provide a valid identity card and proof of address, essentially making it much more difficult to procure acid to use in attacks against women.

To learn more about Laxmi’s story and victory, visit her petition at https://www.change.org/stopacidattacks

Welcome Amanda Levy, Change.org’s New VP of Sales

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We’re thrilled to announce the latest addition to our executive team: Amanda Levy, Change.org’s new vice president of sales. (Yep, that’s her picture above.) 

Amanda comes from Twitter, where she built their medium-sized business sales team. Before that, she was the first salesperson and 10th team member at Yelp.

Most importantly, Amanda cares deeply about making the world a better place. She spent the past year on sabbatical, practicing yoga, biking, and taking photos around the world. She serves as a board member of a nonprofit that helps underprivileged youth relieve stress through yoga and started her career working with education companies.

You can learn more about Amanda’s background here. Join us in welcoming her to the team!

We’re Going On Retreat!

Next week, 180 “frolleagues” (friend-colleagues) from 18 countries will gather at the beautiful Airlie Retreat Center in Virginia in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States to dream up new ways to empower you, our 40 million users, even more. (Well, that, and to dance until late in the evening.)

Here’s a picture from our retreat last year:

imageFrom discussion topics to music selections, we welcome your retreat suggestions. Share them on our Facebook page!

The Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Gay Scouts

On May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly gay scouts for the first time ever. This happened after 1.8 million people signed petitions on Change.org encouraging the Boy Scouts to end the ban.

But gay troop leaders are still banned — that means parents like Jennifer Tyrrell are still not welcome in the Boy Scouts.

You can click here to sign Jennifer’s petition calling on local Boy Scout Councils to allow gay parents to serve as troop leaders.

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Keeping Change.org Secure from Attacks

We wanted to let the Change.org community know that around 11:30pm PST on Friday, May 24th, Change.org was targeted by a hacker who was able to exploit a minor vulnerability and make cosmetic changes to some text and visuals on our site. The hacker temporarily modified the title, description, and photos on 12 petitions.

This vulnerability did not expose any user data, or allow any signatures to be read, changed, added or removed.

We proactively took the site down while we found and fixed the vulnerability. After fixing the issue and restoring the affected areas, we put the site back up as of 4:20 a.m. PST.

Like any prominent internet platform, we are periodically targeted by hackers, and we take these threats very seriously. Ensuring the integrity of our petitions is vitally important to us, and our engineering team puts significant resources towards site security. No user data was exposed by this incident, and as always we will continue to work to improve the security and stability of the site.

-By Benjamin Joffe-Walt, Vice President of Communications

How Change.org is Reaching Scale While Remaining Mission-Focused

by Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO of Change.org

Last year, I received a concerned email from a friend who is a successful internet entrepreneur. He had recently heard me publicly state that we would never sell Change.org or take it public, and that instead we are committed to remaining an independent, mission-driven company focused on social impact. He had also heard about us declining funding approaches from some of the world’s leading venture capital firms because they were not fully aligned with our mission.

He told me that he thought I was crazy.

I replied that I understood his concern, but that I was serious about building a company focused on long-term impact, and that means doing things differently – including how we structure the company and from whom we take investment.

It wasn’t the first time I had encountered this misunderstanding. I founded Change.org in 2006 as a nonprofit, but decided to shift our structure to be a mission-driven company before our launch. I realized that if we wanted to have the agility to build and then rapidly scale a platform that can sustainably support hundreds of millions of people creating change, we’d be better served through the structure of a company rather than that of a nonprofit.

Ever since, people have been trying to box us into old categories that simply don’t apply. Many in the nonprofit sector can’t see why we’re a company if we care so much about impact – and many entrepreneurs and businesspeople find it difficult to understand why we focus on more than just maximum financial returns.

Most of this misunderstanding is because the social enterprise sector is still in its infancy; while there are some remarkable social enterprises emerging around the world, this model of social change is still not ubiquitous or widely understood. But it will be — and we’re already seeing what’s possible with this approach ourselves.

Over the past two years, we’ve grown from 1 million to more than 35 million users, we’ve expanded into 18 countries, and every day people are winning campaigns – from stopping the closure of rural schools in Thailand to increasing bike lanes in Buenos Aires to securing health care for firefighters in the United States.

What has helped drive this success is that we’ve built a scalable business model that provides sustained value to other organizations – mostly nonprofits and political campaigns. This has enabled us to hire a world-class team of 170 people to build free tools and provide free support for millions of people seeking to create change around the globe.

We’ve always known we could move even faster with additional resources, and being a company gives us greater access to investment capital than is available to nonprofits. But one challenge we’ve faced is that while there are few companies operating at a global scale in this sector, there are even fewer investors who recognize the power of business for social change.

One notable outlier is the Omidyar Network, a pioneer in the space of mission-driven investing. Started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, the Omidyar Network is one of the first investment vehicles to fund both nonprofits and mission-driven companies, recognizing that some social problems are more effectively addressed through companies than nonprofits.

This unique structure has allowed the Omidyar Network to fund disruptive nonprofits such as the online lending platform Kiva and socially valuable companies like Meetup.

More than a year ago, we started talking with the folks at Omidyar Network about our respective visions, and we found a tremendous amount of alignment.

Like us, they believe in the power of people everywhere to create change if given the opportunity. But unlike most other investors, they also understand Change.org’s unique structure – that we never intend to sell or go public – and they recognize and respect the importance of our founding team retaining control of the company to ensure that we maintain focus on our mission.

Thanks to this deep alignment of vision, I’m happy to announce that we’ve received $15 million in an investment round led by Omidyar Network. They’ve been joined by other mission-driven investors including Uprising, a new social investment fund.

For the past several years we’ve had a vision for an expanded technology platform that we know can massively democratize power around the world, and we now have the resources to build out a product and engineering team to make that a reality.

In the coming period, we’ll be building tools that will more effectively empower hundreds of millions of people around the world; we will deepen our toolset to enable people to build long-term movements on our platform; we will personalize each user’s experience to better connect people to the issues and organizations they care most about; we will ensure people can organize for change on any device; and we will develop disruptive new tools for citizen empowerment.

Along the way, we will continue to do things that some people think are crazy. We will continue to focus entirely on our mission, we will invest in areas some people think will never generate financial return, and we will continue to maintain our independence.

This doesn’t mean we’ll be indifferent to practical things like revenue. On the contrary, we’ll continue working to provide increased value to organizations through our paid offerings. We can only achieve our vision if we continue to build revenue in a way that can scale to sustain our growing global team and platform. But we will do so in service of our mission.

Although this mission-focused approach currently seems unique, we think it will become increasingly common. We believe one of the most promising opportunities in social change is using the power of business to solve large social and environmental problems, and we hope to demonstrate that it’s possible to build a successful technology company focused on massive social impact. In the process, we hope that — along with some of the growing number of successful social enterprises — we can inspire many more entrepreneurs, investors, and partners to join this emerging movement.

If there’s anything that makes me most hopeful about the potential of this disruption in traditional ways of doing business, it’s the increased excitement I see among young people for new ways of making impact.

I recently witnessed this first-hand after giving a talk to Stanford University’s incoming freshman class, which boasts students from dozens of countries.

One young woman approached me afterward to tell me that all the people she met wanted to work on important social problems, and to ask if I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough people willing to work for “normal companies” in the future.

I smiled, and responded that I didn’t think that was a problem yet – but that I hope we can help make it one by the time she graduates.

Some might call this crazy. But it’s also crazy to think that people around the world can change national laws and the behaviors of multinational companies with a simple petition tool. Yet that’s exactly what’s already happening every day on Change.org all around the world – and we’re just getting started.