Change.org

San Francisco
Website
Founded: 2007
Employees: 44
Revenue 2010: $2.5 million
Revenue 2011 (projected): over $5 million

Change.org has adapted an old tool of activism—the petition—for the digital age, letting anyone with Internet access start a campaign around a cause and recruit their friends to join. Its innovation is rallying online activists to individual cases of injustice rather than broad, abstract problems. For example, members frequently champion the cause of people who have lost their jobs for being gay, petitioning employers to add sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policies. Those actions are more engaging than broad campaigns for gay rights, because "people see the issue through the lens of a personal narrative," says founder Ben Rattray, a 30-year-old Stanford grad. Visitors drawn to the site for one cause see sponsored links from such groups as CARE, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace, which pay when Change.org members sign up. Rattray says the site has 250 nonprofit clients that pay anywhere from $5,000 to $1 million per campaign, depending on how many people they seek to recruit. Rattray raised $2 million from angel investors and became profitable six months ago. In the past 18 months, Change.org has grown from a staff of three to 44 in San Francisco and Washington. Rattray says the site has more than 3 million members, 1,500 new causes each month, and at least one campaign each day, on average, that achieves its stated goal. —JT

 
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