In 2011, Change.org, a certified B corporation, started focusing on viral petitions. Since then, it received a lot of criticisms and one of these is that the website has been facilitating slacktivism. Nevertheless, Ben Rattray, CEO and Founder of Change.org, continued to argue that the petition tool on Change.org website is effective, and that the platform is a pioneer of social change aimed at empowering movements.
Change.org has launched a new tool on its platform allowing petition signers to make contributions along with their signatures. With this tool, petition creators can add a donation button to their campaigns to get financial support.
For starters, only those in the United States will be able to use the tool. However, Change.org is planning to expand it to over a dozen countries. All donations will have a charge fee of 5%.
Rattray argues that, “Petitions are massively viral, and allow you to in real time aggregate people who support a cause and crowdfunding is one way to give that group an opportunity to take further action, augment[ing] the existing virality of the petitions.”
Previously, Change.org has largely been relying on sponsored petitions, with payments made by nonprofit organizations in exchange for advertisements on its website as main source of revenue. The corporation is planning to cease this approach for it encourages more organizations to utilize the platform as a fundraising tool. Instead, the corporation will emphasize more on “Promoted Petitions, a tool that allows users to pay in order to promote their campaigns to other site users.
Change.org has already tested its crowdfunding feature with over a dozen campaigns. An example is the campaign that was created by founder of Rise, an advocacy organization for the rights of rape survivors. The campaign raised over $20,000, which was used to cover travelling expenses of survivors asked to testify at federal and state committee meetings, and also to empower local activists to continue spreading the message of progress and hope within their communities.
Another campaign was “Justice for Tamir”, which raised $6,253, surpassing its initial goal of $5,000. Other campaigns include: Anti-food waste fight that met its target of $2,000; new life for mum that raised over $26,000 surpassing the initial target of $25,000; dogs’ emergency care that raised over $131,000, surpassing the initial target of $125,000; and documentary screening that has already raised $9,187 of the targeted $10,000.
Just like other crowdfunding campaigns on reward or donation-based platforms, such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, Change.org will not be performing financial audits on how the funds are used after the campaign is closed.
Rattray said that adding a crowdfunding tool on the website is just the start of a whole new group of tools they plan to use when leveraging the resources and skills of a group supporting a petition. Another option they will introduce is the collection of monthly donations from supporters of a cause. Another plan is enabling people to volunteer their skills, including graphic design and legal expertise, with the aim of creating and promoting social change.
Change.org has over 150 million users worldwide. The corporation’s membership is growing by over 1 million weekly. It is also launching over 250,000 new petitions monthly. They are optimistic that these numbers will continue to grow, thus allowing them to bring about the social changes they seek.