My interview with Nick, the Australian Director of Change.org, began by him excitedly telling me about the mornings’ momentus campaign victory. After bravely launching a campaign to end homophobia in the AFL only a few weeks ago, footballer Jason Ball managed to galvanise over 26,000 signatures on his Change.org campaign site and convince the AFL to broadcast “No to homophobia” ads on the stadium big screen at the preliminary final. A resounding success story!
So, what is Change.org?
In the same way as YouTube allows anyone, anywhere to publish video content, Change.org is a platform that allows anyone, anywhere to start campaigns that they care about and push for change. Change.org began as a startup in America, which has begun to expand internationally and the Australian site was launched in August last year.
Since then over 600,000 users have joined the Australian site and thousands of campaigns have been launched. Nick explained that one of the great things about Change.org is that it is versatile in that it can support campaigns that seek to make change on a local, national and international level. Just by searching the site you can see its range and potential, with campaigns launched all over the world about almost every imaginable issue.
Inspire us with some more of Change.org’s success stories…
Nick reels of a number of stories, starting with this one about a local issue. A community of parents launched a campaign to petition the NSW Education Department to stop cutting trees down in their children’s local primary school yard, and were successful in stopping the tree logging after their Change.org campaign reached a few 100 people.
On the international front, Morgan, a 22-year-old Melbourne woman was inspired to launch a campaign to get Lindt and Ferrero to commit to making chocolate without any involvement of child slave labour. Amidst researching where she could buy Easter chocolate bunnies for her younger brother, she found that these two companies were the only ones who had not made the commitment to ensure that their supply chains were child labour free. Morgans’ Change.org campaign went viral, collecting over 110,000 signatures in only 48 hours. A few days later she was negotiating with the COO and Global Head of Supply Change of Lindt and Ferrero and two weeks later, both companies had made commitments to have their supply chains “100% audited” by 2020.
While there are many successful campaigns, just a brief browse on change.org reveals that there are many more that are not. Nick explains that Change.org is not a “magic bullet” and that the successful campaigns are ones were the campaigner is dedicated, determined and believes in their cause and they use Change.org as an effective tool to spread their message.
How does Change.org differ from other online social campaign sites such as GetUp!?
Nick explains that unlike GetUp!, which is an online campaign organisation that has its own agenda set by its members, Change.corg is a platform that anyone with any agenda can use to support their cause. Change.org states that their site is an “enabler not a driver” for social change, a tool that anyone can use to effect social change.
Nick points to the many opposing campaigns that co-exist on Change.org to demonstrate that Change.org is able to support all views. The sites’ underpinning philosophy is to support more active and engaged citizens, to be the “marketplace of ideas that lead to changes that affect society”. However there are some limits to the campaigns that are change.org hosts as Nick explains that campaigns that incite violence or promote hatred are removed from the site. Change.org has inbuilt community moderation, were campaigns can be flagged by users for inappropriate content.
How is Change.org funded?
Change.org allows social organisations, for example Amnesty International to advertise on the site and sponsor petitions. Nick explains that organisations that want to find new members who are passionate about their issues can connect with like-minded people through Change.org.
What does it mean that Change.org is an accredited B-Corporation?
B-Corporation is an American based accreditation body that ultimately a form of recognition that an organisation is a social enterprise, that is a for-profit company whose core purpose is to have a positive impact on the world.
What do you think is the biggest issue that needs to chance in Australia today?
Nick immediately responded that the biggest challenge is disempowered and apathetic people. Change.org is impacting on this not only by providing tools to enable people to do something about the issues that they are passionate about, but seeing the success stories also inspiring them to take action, which then spurs others to believe that change is possible and they can do it too.
WOW! I’m inspired… off to start my first campaign.