Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

Change.org is a petition website that has been hugely instrumental for getting online communities to rally together in order to amplify a particular message or demand. The two biggest petitions ever seen on the website call for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two names we should all know by now.

CEO Nick Allardice said the petitions were “magnitudes” larger than anything the site has seen before, and not just in terms of signatures. After adding their names and seeing a prompt to “chip in,” many signees also contributed money—though what exactly they were “chipping in” for was left somewhat vague.

The company’s revenue model (despite having “.org” in its name, the company is for-profit) involves asking for more money when people sign, but the windfall these petitions generated is an order of magnitude larger than usual: In the end, the company netted $10 million in “donations” (the company insists they are not donations, because as a private company, it cannot accept donations; it considers them contributions to promote a petition through advertising) from the two petitions, and while it dedicated some of that money to promoting the petitions themselves, critics—including former staffers—demanded that the company not profit off the deaths of Floyd and Taylor.

Now the company is responding, announcing that it will put $6 million into a fund dedicated to fighting for and supporting racial justice efforts—though it’s still vague about which organizations will receive that money. It will also set aside $2.5 million toward helping racial justice petitions on the platform get even more attention. And at least $1.5 million will be used to create a new internal team focused on ways to engage people in racial justice organizing after they sign a petition.

While no beneficiaries of the $6 million fund have been picked yet, Allardice says the company is clear on the direction for this fund: toward supporting Black-led organizations on the front lines of racial justice work and grassroots organizers driving change in their own communities—and not just in this moment, but over time.

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