Incredible! Change.org Hits 50 million Users

51,843,933. That’s the number of active Change.org users — from all backgrounds and ages, in every corner of the planet — who are part of the largest online community of change-makers in the world. That’s more than double the amount of people using Change.org to create change a year ago!

Every single day, people win on Change.org, with over 6,000 victories and counting — from the young woman in India who got her government to regulate the sale of acid to protect women from attacks to the gay Boy Scout from California who moved the nation and influenced the Boy Scouts to accept gay youth. And to date, people creating petitions and their signers, whether it’s 6 or 600,000, have impacted everything from criminal justice and education to animal rights and women and girls. Over 16 million people to be exact.

At this milestone, we’ve taken a look back to see what 50 million people can change. Quite a lot, it turns out. Just imagine what 60, 70 or 100,000 million can accomplish…

Meet Change.org for Decision Makers

In its early days, the Internet promised to give ordinary people the power to create extraordinary change. But almost two decades later, very little has changed in how we make ourselves heard to people in power. We have to ask ourselves, has that promise been realized? As citizens, we can “share our voice,” but are we heard? Are our voices impacting the decisions that affect our lives?

Here we are, in an era of unprecedented transparency and connectedness, yet it can feel like our elected officials are more inscrutable and distant than ever.

At Change.org, as our nearly 50 million users create more than 1,500 new petitions to decision makers in government and business every day, we see the need up close for a fundamental transformation of the way constituents engage with their elected officials online. We need to make online advocacy more transparent, more direct, and, most importantly, more effective.

That’s why we’re excited to announce Change.org for Decision Makers, a new toolset that allows verified decision makers in government (and soon, companies) to respond directly and publicly to petitions sent by their constituents. Simultaneously, Change.org users can access new public profile pages for each verified decision maker and see immediately which issues other people want answered.

Elected leaders like Representative Paul Ryan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee are leading the way as an example for others, having already signed up for Change.org for Decision Makers in order to respond to their constituents. Elected leaders at all levels of government will be following in the coming weeks.

Change.org for Decision Makers shines a spotlight on the parts of the petition previously hidden from view. Petitions will be continue to be fully public, meaning that as a user, you’ll always know who started a petition and how many other people have signed on. But now, responses from verified decision makers will also be public and shared with petition signers, who’ll have the chance to comment back and continue the conversation.

Finally, public profiles for verified decision makers will make clear which leaders are responding and which aren’t, adding an important layer of accountability.

Gone are the days when people talked at elected officials, hoping for a response. With Change.org for Decision Makers, ordinary people can talk with decision makers to bring about solutions that matter. Get ready – this is a game changer.

Check Out Our Initial Survey Results

This past month, we surveyed about 50 petition starters – roughly half women, half men – whose petitions gained traction and eventually won. We wanted to know why they chose to start a petition, what the process was like, and how it felt to finally win.

Well, the results are in! Check out what we learned below. (Just keep in mind that 50 people isn’t exactly a statistically significant sample size – so take these initial findings with a grain of salt.)

  • Men and women focused on different topics in their petitions. The most popular issue that women started petitions on was health, while the most popular issue for men was education.

  • When they first started their petitions, women were significantly less confident than men that they would eventually win. 1/3 of women surveyed said that when they started their petition, they were either somewhat or very unconfident that it would win, compared to just 1/6 of men surveyed. (Once they start petitions, though, women and men are equally likely to win.) 

  • About half of the men and women surveyed had taken action on an issue before starting their petition. But once they won, 92% of men and 93% of women thought they would take action on an issue in the future. 

What do you think of these findings? Let us know below!

5 Victories Worth Knowing About

We see victories every day here on Change.org. Here are a few from the U.S. that caught our eye this month!

  • Sharon Durfrene’s daughter has a kidney disease that forces her to miss partial days of school several times a year. When Sharon learned that her daughter and other kids with chronic medical conditions would be banned from group rewards for good attendance, she started a Change.org petition and convinced the school to make the rewards more inclusive. 

  • The makers of the LGBTQ history app Quist couldn’t believe it when they got a notice from the Apple Store that the term “bisexual,” which appears in the app’s description, was flagged as “unacceptable.” So they started a petition, leading Apple to announce that “bisexual” will no longer be considered a problem descriptor. 

  • Jeanette L. of Duval County, FL, used her petition to win local homeowners the right to install drought-tolerant landscaping.  

  • Thesaurus.com has removed the word “male” as part of the definition of the word “power,” thanks to a petition led by Change.org user Lexi Kirwin. 

  • Sacramento, CA student Nathan Duke won his Change.org petition to West Campus High School asking for a return to the school’s old dress code. Nathan writes, “My school unfairly and unjustly tried to impose a new dress code to our school and with the support of our entire student body, it was overturned!”

Want to see more? Check out our list of recent victories on Change.org here

Small Town Victories on Change.org

Last week, more than 60 people reported victories on Change.org! Here are a few from “Small Town USA” that caught our eye:

  • When Savin Hill Tennis Courts’ sole tree died several years ago, the parks department removed it, leaving the park treeless – until residents started a petition to the parks and recreation commissioner asking to replace the tree.  Here’s what the petition starter has to say: “We just received a letter from parks commissioner Antonia Pollak in response to the request for the replacement of the tree in the Savin Hill Park tennis courts. There will be a tree planted in the tennis courts to replace the old one this fall 2013!” (107 signatures, Dorchester, MA)

  • Clementon Park, a small amusement park in New Jersey, will now offer a companion pass for people with disabilities after Maryellen Raymond, a mother of a 14-year-old boy with severe autism, started her petition to the governor of NJ. (1,831 supporters, Newtown, PA)

  • Niko Niko, a beloved Japanese animation and gift shop in the Town Center Mall in Douglasville, Georgia, that was unexpectedly closed down after earning a stellar reputation as the best Japanese store in the area, will be reopened after the Shop Fairness Organization won its campaign. (117 supporters, Douglasville, GA)

Click here to see the full list of petition victories from the past week and beyond!

U.S. News Covers Petition Calling for First Responders Holiday

Thousands of Americans have signed a Change.org petition asking Congress to designate a National First Responders Day. As reporter Elizabeth Flock writes in U.S. News and World Report, the petition was started “by Andrew Collier, whose older brother, Sean, was allegedly shot and killed by the Boston bombers.” 

You can read the U.S. News article here and sign Andrew’s petition at www.change.org/firstresponders

We’re Going On Retreat!

Next week, 180 “frolleagues” (friend-colleagues) from 18 countries will gather at the beautiful Airlie Retreat Center in Virginia 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:

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

10-Year-Old Girl Finally Gets Lung Transplant After Parents’ Petition

"Score one for pushy parents," writes Bonnie Rochman at Time magazine in an uplifting story about a 10-year-old girl who’ll finally get the lung transplant she needs to survive. The first step Sarah’s parents took to save their little girl? Starting a Change.org petition.

Read the full story here: http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/12/parents-lobby-and-win-a-shot-at-new-lungs-for-their-kids-are-transplant-rules-made-to-be-broken.

Victory! 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.

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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