You’ve probably read about the 22-year-old nanny in Washington, D.C. whose petition drive to get Bank of America to scrap a $5-a-month fee for debit cards succeeded in getting the banking giant to back down.
Lesser known is the fight between a fourth grade class and a Hollywood studio. The kids loved one of Dr. Seuss’ stories because of its environmental themes. When they learned a movie studio was about to make a film that ignored those themes, they started a petition. You guessed it: the movie studio backed down.
Like you, I wondered how they did it. A recent story in the New York Times gave me the answer: Change.org, a website where visitors can publish a petition and garner signatures. The nanny got over 306,000 signatures, and the kids recieved more than 57,000. Publicity ensued and change did happen. Inspired by her success, the nanny went on to start a second petition drive, protesting a $2 surcharge by Verizon for customers to pay certain bills online. In 48 hours, the petition had more than 160,000 signatures, and Verizon withdrew the fee.
Change.org describes itself as a non-partisan organization that “empowers anyone to start and win campaigns for social change.” Its home page lists 12 causes, including animals, criminal justice, economic justice, education, environment, gay rights, health, human rights, human trafficking, immigrant rights and sustainable food.
If you support a cause and want to start a petition, Change.org makes it easy. The site has sample petitions, a list of victories and a “tips” page. To start a petition, indicate who you want to direct it to, what you want them to do and why your cause is important. Change.org walks you through how to determine targets (usually company executives and/or public officials), but you’ll need to get their email addresses yourself.
Once you’ve created your petition, the “tips” page suggests the various ways you can promote it, including using social media, a blog or website, online conversations, instant messaging and your own videos.
Bottom line: there’s never been an easier, safer or more effective way to foster change. What experiences have you had with Change.org?