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More than 250,000 Americans Join Viral “Caylee’s Law” Campaign

Thu, 2011-07-07 02:42

Oklahoma woman’s campaign urging lawmakers to create “Caylee’s Law” attracts more than 250,000 supporters in less than 36 hours, making it Change.org’s most popular campaign of all time.

In less than 36 hours, more than 250,000 people in all 50 states have joined an Oklahoma woman’s Change.org campaign calling for the creation of “Caylee’s Law,” which would make it a felony for a parent to fail to report a missing child to law enforcement.

Launched by Michelle Crowder of Durant, Oklahoma, the campaign calling for “Caylee’s Law” is already the most popular petition of all time on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. The campaign’s viral momentum continues to grow, with an average of two new signatures every second, 121 every minute, and 7,292 every hour. The campaign is growing 108 times faster than what was previously Change.org’s most popular petition ever.

Crowder started the Change.org petition on Tuesday evening after Casey Anthony was found “not guilty” of first-degree murder or manslaughter in the case of her two-year-old daughter Caylee’s death, but guilty of providing false information to police. Anthony will be sentenced at 9 am today.

The Change.org campaign focuses on one of the central controversies of the case: the fact that Anthony never notified law enforcement that her daughter was missing.

When Crowder, a mother of two, was asked by CNN why she launched the Change.org petition, she told the news network, “I do not know any lawmakers or government officials; I just felt something had to be done.”

State legislators in Florida, Oklahoma, and New York have pledged to introduce bills to create Caylee’s Law in their states. Three Florida state lawmakers have already drafted versions of Caylee’s Law. Other states are expected to follow suit soon. The Massachusetts State Police spokesperson expressed support for Caylee’s Law yesterday, saying the law makes sense because “with each passing hour the chances of finding a missing child decline sharply.”

“I’m just completely and totally amazed. I didn’t expect my Change.org petition calling for Caylee’s Law to take off like this,” said Crowder. “Legislators in Florida and Oklahoma have already pledged to introduce Caylee’s Law. I hope that other states, and Congress, will also take up Caylee’s Law. We can’t afford to have another case like Caylee Anthony’s in the courts.”

The “Caylee’s Law” petition has been covered by the Associated Press, CNN, TIME, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Patch.com/AOL as well as by local stations in many states, including Florida (also here), Massachusetts, Michigan (also here), Oklahoma (also here, here, and here) and Utah as well as Washington, D.C.

The record-breaking petition is the latest sign of the increasing impact of campaigns on Change.org, which was profiled this past week in the New York Times, Sacramento Bee, and Washington Times.

“There is extensive debate about this issue, and this campaign has been remarkable,” said Change.org founder Ben Rattray. “In less than 36 hours, a woman in Oklahoma has recruited hundreds of thousands of supporters for her cause. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere, to take action on the issues that are important to them, which makes it the perfect platform for this record-breaking campaign.”

The previous record for Change.org’s most popular petition of all time was held by a campaign led by women from the townships of South Africa calling for legislative action on ‘corrective rape’, an increasingly common hate crime in which men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight. More than 170,000 people in 163 countries signed that petition. Other top Change.org campaigns have included a campaign calling for McDonald’s employees to be held responsible for the beating of a trans woman (153,000 supporters) and a campaign calling for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (143,000 supporters), which led to a cyber attack on Change.org emanating from China.

Campaign to Create “Caylee’s Law” Goes Viral

Wed, 2011-07-06 08:39

Oklahoma woman calls for parents who fail to notify police of missing child to be charged with felony; more than 37,000 supporters join in less than 24 hours.

More than 37,000 people in all 50 states have joined a Change.org campaign calling for a federal law — called “Caylee’s Law” — that would make the failure of a parent to notify law enforcement of a child’s disappearance a felony.

Casey Anthony was found “not guilty” of first-degree murder or manslaughter on Tuesday in the case of her two-year-old daughter Caylee’s death. One of the central controversies of the case has been the fact that Anthony never notified law enforcement that her daughter was missing. Caylee was last seen on June 16, 2008; grandmother Cindy Anthony notified the police on July 15, a month later.

After hearing the verdict and seeing a Facebook page response, Oklahoman Michelle Crowder started a Change.org petition asking Congress to create “Caylee’s Law,” making it a federal offense and a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to report a child’s disappearance to law enforcement.

Nearly 2,000 people have signed the “Caylee’s Law” petition each hour since its creation, making it the fastest-growing campaign on Change.org.

“When I saw that Casey Anthony had been found not guilty in the murder of little Caylee, and that she was only being convicted of lying to the police about her disappearance, I was sickened; I could not believe she was not being charged with child neglect or endangerment, or even obstruction of justice,” said petition-starter Michelle Crowder.

“I saw a page on Facebook proposing that a law be made, but I saw nothing about a petition being started for it. So, I decided to start one on Change.org because I have signed several petitions on the site and I knew it would be a way to reach people and hopefully get something done.”

Michelle continued, “I am hoping that this will be made into a federal law so that no other child’s life, disappearance, and/or death is treated in the manner that poor Caylee’s was treated. No child deserves that.”

“There is extensive debate about this issue, and this campaign has been remarkable,” said Change.org founder Ben Rattray. “In less than 24 hours, a woman in Oklahoma has recruited tens of thousands of supporters for her cause. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere, to take action on the issues that are important to them, and it is the perfect platform for this record-breaking campaign.”

Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change, was profiled this week in the New York Times, Sacramento Bee, and Washington Times.

Congresswoman Asks Colleagues to Pressure Sec. Clinton over Foreign Cyber-Attack on Change.org

Wed, 2011-05-11 14:16

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asks members of Congress to urge Secretary Clinton to condemn an ongoing cyber-attack against U.S.-based social action platform Change.org. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joins DeLauro’s condemnation of the attack.

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent an open letter Wednesday to all members of Congress urging them to call on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly denounce an on-going cyber-attack against Change.org and commit to an investigation to uncover those responsible for the attack. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Rep. DeLauro in denouncing the attacks.

On April 18, foreign hackers launched a highly sophisticated cyber-attack on the U.S.-based social action platform. The ongoing attack, which originated in China and has temporarily brought down Change.org at intermittent periods, follows the viral success of a Change.org petition calling for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The campaign was started by leading global art museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and London’s Tate Modern, as well as the Association of Art Museum Directors. More than 133,000 people from 175 countries have signed the petition in a sign of widespread global solidarity for human rights and free speech.

Rep. DeLauro called on members of Congress to sign onto the open letter “encouraging Secretary Clinton to personally condemn these attacks and take action to ensure they are stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.”

To date, the State Department’s only comment on the issue came from a spokesperson condemning “cyber attacks designed to stifle free speech on the Internet, including via ‘distributed denial of service’… like the one Change.org experienced.”

Rep. DeLauro said the attack “demands a firmer response.”

The open letter to Clinton [copy below] urges the Secretary of State “to take a further step in personally condemning this specific attack on Change.org and to commit to an investigation to uncover those responsible for the attack to ensure that this attack and others like it in the future are stopped swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

“We believe this attack on Change.org from outside of the United States is an attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free speech,” reads the open letter from members of Congress. “As millions of Americans regularly use the Internet to engage in the political process, it is vital that we strive to protect online services that facilitate open debate.”

Change.org asked the U.S. State Department and FBI for help within hours of the attack. The FBI has since launched an investigation into the attack, but Sec. Clinton has yet to formally condemn the attack.

“A U.S. company has been the victim of a highly sophisticated foreign cyber-attack designed to suppress American citizens’ right to organize around issues they care about for more than three weeks now,” said Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “Foreign hackers are illegally trying to prevent people around the world from simply voicing their opinion. We are both honored and grateful to have the support of members of Congress in calling on Secretary Clinton to take this attack seriously.”

China has ignored global outrage over the detention of Ai Weiwei, asking other nations not to meddle in China’s domestic affairs. In an interview with The Atlantic yesterday, Secretary Clinton called China’s human rights record “deplorable”, suggesting that the country’s one-party system will eventually collapse.

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country. Photo: Marc Nozell

For exclusive quotes, media can contact Brian Purchia at press@change.org. To download the open letter from members of Congress to Sec. Clinton (text below), click here.

STOP FOREIGN CYBER-ATTACK ON U.S.-BASED WEBSITE

Dear Colleague:

I write to request your support in asking Secretary Clinton to condemn an on-going foreign cyber-attack against a U.S.-based website, Change.org, and to commit to supporting an investigation to uncover those responsible for the attack. The attack appears to have originated in China in an effort to make Change.org inaccessible in retaliation for hosting a petition calling on the Chinese government to release the artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

The American public rightly expects protection from foreign cyber-attacks against digital communications.  As millions of Americans regularly use the Internet to engage in the political process, it is vital that we strive to protect online services that facilitate open debate.  I believe this attack from outside of the United States is an attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free speech.

I recently wrote Secretary Clinton expressing my concern over the attack. Noting her leadership on the issue of cyber-security, I urged the State Department to condemn this attack on Change.org and to call on the Chinese government to take swift action to ensure that this attack and others like it in the future are stopped swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.  A State Department spokesman responded by condemning “cyber attacks designed to stifle free speech on the Internet, including via ‘distributed denial of service’… like the one Change.org experienced.”

In my view, this effort to both suppress Internet freedom in the United States and human rights in China demands a firmer response.  Accordingly, I ask for your support by signing the letter below encouraging Secretary Clinton to personally condemn these attacks and take action to ensure they are stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

For more information or to co-sign the letter, please contact Dan Zeitlin on my staff by phone at 5-3661 or by email at daniel.zeitlin@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,
ROSA L. DeLAURO
Member of Congress

May 11, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We write with regard to the continuation of cyber-attacks emanating from China and to express our concern with the on-going cyber-attack, apparently originating in China, on the U.S.-based website Change.org.  This attack is particularly troubling as it represents an effort to both suppress Internet freedom in the United States and human rights in China.

As you know, the online social action platform Change.org – an entity engaged in efforts to empower people to mobilize in order to fight for justice locally, nationally, and globally – recently came under a sustained distributed denial of service attack. Moreover, the intent of the attack appears to have been to make Change.org inaccessible in response to a popular petition asking the Government of China to free Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who has been detained by Chinese authorities.

We support your remarks last year, in which you made clear the U.S intention to address issues related to internet freedom with China “candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship,” and we trust that these issues were raised in the recent U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue.  Moreover, we applaud the State Department for responding to this most recent attack by condemning “cyber attacks designed to stifle free speech on the Internet, including via ‘distributed denial of service’… like the one Change.org experienced.”

Nevertheless, the American public rightly expects protection from foreign cyber-attacks against digital communications.  As millions of Americans regularly use the Internet to engage in the political process, it is vital that we strive to protect online services that facilitate open debate.  We believe this attack on Change.org from outside of the United States is an attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free speech.

We therefore respectfully ask you to take a further step in personally condemning this specific attack on Change.org and to commit to an investigation to uncover those responsible for the attack to ensure that this attack and others like it in the future are stopped swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.  Doing so will demonstrate that the issues of cyber-security and human rights are in fact a top priority for the United States.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Magazine Apologizes, Fires Journalist Making Rape Threats

Fri, 2011-05-06 07:38

An Argentinian magazine has apologized for a column by a journalist who threatened to rape a feminist activist in Buenos Aires after an international campaign led companies Lacoste and Fiat to pull ad campaigns from the publication.

The Argentinian magazine El Guardián has apologized for a column by a journalist who threatened to rape a feminist activist in Buenos Aires, pledging to never print the reporters work again.

The news comes after a two month international campaign forced the Italian car company Fiat and the French clothing company Lacoste to pull their advertising campaigns from the publication.

On March 3, 2011, El Guardián published a reporter named Juan Terranova who wrote a column explicitly threatening to rape Inti Maria Tidball-Binz, a Argentinian activist with Hollaback, an international feminist advocacy organization dedicated to ending the street harassment of women.

Local and international activists used the social action platform Change.org to demand that the publication print an apology and fire the journalist. But despite thousands joining the campaign, the magazine refused.

Activists pressed on, calling on the magazine’s international advertisers Fiat and Lacoste to pull their advertising campaigns. Both global brands agreed, and after weeks of ongoing local and international campaigning, the magazine was forced to concede, printing a formal apology and firing the writer.

“What started off as something terrible turned into something beautiful, not just personally but also as a first step in changing the high levels of discrimination in the media in Argentina,” said Inti Maria Tidball-Binz, the woman who was directly threatened by Juan Terranova. “We have set precedents. We have spoken out for all those who are currently discriminated against and threatened in the media…I’ve felt enormously empowered by all of this support.”

“What started as a simple petition quickly became a cross-continent campaign,” said Emily May, Executive Director of Hollaback! “We worked swiftly and collaboratively across multiple languages and time zones, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the Change.org team.  We started this to win this. And together, we did.”

Meredith Slater, an organizer who runs Change.org campaigns, said the degree of international solidarity was unprecedented.

“What these women were able to accomplish here is remarkable,” she said. “This was a truly international campaign, with activists in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, New York City, London and Jerusalem working together to pressure companies in France and Italy — all in order to convince a magazine in Argentina to do the right thing. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to take action on the issues that are important to them, and we are honored to have been able to provide a platform for such a notable campaign.”

For exclusive quotes, media can contact Change.org’s Human Rights Editor Benjamin Joffe-Walt at press@change.org.

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 300,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

U.S. Congresswoman Condemns Chinese Attack on Change.org

Tue, 2011-04-26 00:01

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to denounce attacks on the U.S.-based social action platform Change.org after a campaign by famous art museums calling for Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s release went globally viral on the site.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called late Monday for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly condemn an ongoing Chinese attack on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing social action platform.

Last week Chinese hackers launched a highly sophisticated cyber-attack on the US-based social action platform after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries endorsed an online call for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, an increasingly outspoken critic of the Chinese government. The petition now has more than 120,000 signatures.

Rep. DeLauro urged Sec. Clinton “to condemn this attack on Change.org and call on the Chinese government to take swift action to ensure that this attack and others like it in the future are stopped swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

“I believe this attack on Change.org from outside of the United States is an attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free speech and another example of the Government of China’s intent to restrain human rights,” she wrote in a letter to Sec. Clinton. “The American public rightly expects protection from foreign cyber-attacks against digital communications.  As millions of Americans regularly use the Internet to engage in the political process, it is vital that we strive to protect online services, which facilitate open debate.”

The ongoing attack, which temporarily brought down Change.org at intermittent periods over the past week, follows the viral success of a Change.org petition calling for Ai Weiwei’s release by leading global art museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Tate Modern, London, as well as the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Change.org asked the U.S. State Department and FBI for help within hours of the attack. The State Department has condemned previous attacks on U.S. companies like Google. Change.org has formally requested Sec. Clinton’s office to issue a statement about the attacks on the leading social action platform.

“This is an ongoing, highly sophisticated attack on a U.S. company specifically designed to suppress the ability and legal right of American citizens to organize around the issues they care about,” said Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “Chinese hackers are illegally trying to prevent people around the world from expressing their support for leading global art museums working to free China’s most famous artist. We are both honored and grateful to have the support of Rep DeLauro in calling on the State Department to take this seriously.”

For exclusive quotes, media can contact Change.org’s Director of Communications Brian Purchia at press@change.org.

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

To download the letter from Rep. DeLauro to Sec. Clinton (text below):
https://change.box.net/shared/rn02ah949v

April 25, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I write with regard to the continuation of cyber-attacks emanating from China and specifically to express my concern over a recent apparent cyber-attack from China on the U.S.-based website Change.org.  This attack is particularly troubling as it represents an effort to both suppress internet freedom in the United States and human rights in China.

As you may know, the online social action platform Change.org-an entity engaged in efforts to empower people to mobilize in order to fight for justice locally, nationally and globally-recently came under a sustained distributed denial of service attack reportedly originating from within China.  Moreover, the intent of the attack appears to have been to make Change.org inaccessible in response to a popular petition asking for the Government of China to free Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei, who has been detained by Chinese authorities.

The American public rightly expects protection from foreign cyber-attacks against digital communications.  As millions of Americans regularly use the Internet to engage in the political process, it is vital that we strive to protect online services, which facilitate open debate.  I believe this attack on Change.org from outside of the United States is an attack on Americans’ fundamental right to free speech and another example of the Government of China’s intent to restrain human rights.

In a speech last year, you made clear the U.S intention to address issues related to internet freedom with China “candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship.”  I strongly agree with this approach, and accordingly respectfully urge the State Department to condemn this attack on Change.org and call on the Chinese government to take swift action to ensure that this attack and others like it in the future are stopped swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

ROSA L. DeLAURO
Member of Congress

Change.org Celebrates a Belated Earth Day

Mon, 2011-04-25 03:34

Disclaimer: Today is not Earth Day. That was on Friday, when we intended to publish the blog post below, a feat that proved impossible due to a total site-wide outage most of Friday, courtesy of our Amazon hosting provider. So we are celebrating a belated Earth Day today. We are actually quite excited about the turn of events. It give us a chance to elevate some awesome campaigns above the typical green noise of the annual Earth Day event. It also allows us to emphasize a point made in the blog post below: That campaigns are not (usually) won in a day and—despite the success of the first Earth Day—a green movement isn’t a movement unless it can mobilize more than once a year.

Check out our home page for 10 Belated Earth Day campaigns to take action on today, and if you’re on Twitter today, follow hash tag #EarthdayEveryday. And now for your scheduled programing…

—–

The first Earth Day was held in 1970. It was moment built upon a groundswell of environmental awareness among those who could no longer accept breathing dirty air or watching their rivers ruined by sludge. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who founded that first Earth Day, wrote, “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

It organized itself.

That is an amazing statement.

At Change.org, we have the privilege of watching impassioned individuals and groups organizing themselves on our site every single day. Often, these are folks working at the local level, devoting their valuable free time to fight for their right to clean communities and a healthy future for their kids (and grandkids, and great grandkids). Others are inspiring national organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund or Natural Resources Defense Council, that have worked day-in and day-out, each day since that first Earth Day, to defend the planet at every level—locally, institutionally, nationally, and globally.

We also know organizing is hard, often emotional work. There are natural frustrations and there are also amazing highs, when a victory is within reac. Rarely, however, does it feel that anything spontaneously organizes itself. Change, for that matter, doesn’t usually happen in a day. Perhaps what Senator Nelson was getting at is this: Impassioned individuals all working to make small changes can, collectively, do big things.

Change.org wants to mark Earth Day by recognizing some of amazing campaigns on our site and organizations that are part of our network.  We’ve featured just a small sampling of these campaigns on our home page to make it easy for everyone to join in. We’d also like to recognize that Earth Day is definitely not just for those who view themselves to be “environmentalists.” We have many diverse causes at Change.org—Education, Sustainable Food, Women’s Rights, Human Trafficking, Human Rights, to name just a few—and this day is easily about those, too.

Many of these campaigns won’t be won in a single day, but with your help they can be won one day.

Take a moment to check out these campaigns. And while you’re at it, why not also consider starting a campaign on the local issues that matter most to you?

  • Support Oceana’s work to end new offshore drilling: Will we ever learn? Last Wednesday was the 1-year anniversary of the BP blowout, and that question is still being asked. Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, wants to make sure we do. Unbelievably, some elected officials are fighting not only to block sorely-needed reforms in the wake of the spill, but also are working to open even more of America’s waters to offshore drill rigs.
  • Sign the Friends of the Earth campaign to stop new nukes: Japan’s Fukushima disaster has made us all too aware of the risks of nuclear energy. Friends of the Earth has long opposed nuclear power plants due to these inherent risks and to the intractable waste problems they produce. Now, in the wake of the disaster, there is an important resurgence of U.S. activism on nuke issues, even as President Obama and Congress consider funding the first new nuclear power plants in the U.S. since the 1970s.
  • Join Earthjustice in protecting our national forest legacy. The conservation movement predates the environmental movement, back to when President Theodore Roosevelt first created the National Park System and National Forest system more than a century ago. Earthjustice is working to make sure that legacy stands for future generations to enjoy. It is urging the U.S. Forest Service to protect forest lands from loggers and road builders. 
  • Urge retail giant Costco to sign ‘No Dirty Gold’ pledge: From the Philippines to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gold mining often has devastating impacts on the workers, communities and the environment. Child labor, forced labor and other abuses of internationally recognized labor rights are widespread in this industry. That’s why more than 70 major jewelry retailers have endorsed the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules for responsibly-sourced gold. Shouldn’t Costco add its name to the list?
  • Stand With Russia’s Human Rights and Environmental Activists: The Save Khimki Forest Movement is comprised of a group of Russians who are, putting their lives at risk to save an important old-growth forest outside of Moscow, enduring beatings, arrests and major intimidation tactics from corrupt Russian authorities who stand to profit from the highway that could destroy Khimki Forest. 

Every week, there are dozens of timely green campaigns started on Change.org within many of our 12 cause umbrellas. Here’s are just a few more:

Save the Serengeti and the Greatest Land Migration of Animals on Earth

Stop the Megaloads: Protect the Northwest from Tar Sands Oil

Michelle Obama: Girls Scouts Need Your Help (Getting Unsustainable Palm Oil out of the Cookies they Sell)

Tell the Florida Homeowners Association: Let Kids Play Outside

Does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Speak for You?

Tell Nestle: Stop Undermining Local Water Rights

Save Dolphins Dying in Florida: Cap the Spread of Harmful Fertilizers

Protect the Grand Canyon from Uranium Mining

Stop the Delivery of Unwanted Yellow Pages in San Francisco

Youth March to Save Their Future and Stop Global Warming

Stop KFC From Destroying Southern Forests to Make Chicken Buckets

Support a 5-cent Plastic Bag Fee in Maryland

Don’t Bulldoze a Historic Massachusetts Family Farm

Kids in Guam Campaign for a Coral Reef Protection Act

And don’t forget, you can also start your own petition here.

Under Attack by Chinese Hackers, Change.org Asks Supporters of Ai Weiwei to Tweet Sec. Clinton for Help

Wed, 2011-04-20 16:01

Despite a highly sophisticated Chinese cyber attack on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing social action platform, the U.S. State Department has yet to condemn the attack.

Chinese hackers temporarily brought down Change.org earlier this week after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries endorsed an online call for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, an increasingly outspoken critic of the Chinese government.

The ongoing cyber attack is targeting Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing social action platform. It follows the viral success of a Change.org petition calling for Ai Weiwei’s release by leading global art museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Tate Modern, London, as well as the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Change.org issued a formal request for urgent assistance to both the FBI and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian Pacific Affairs within hours of the attack. But the U.S. State Department, has yet to issue a public condemnation of the attack, despite worldwide coverage of the attacks, including in The Guardian, Reuters, Mashable, El Mundo, Bloomberg, AFP, Yahoo News and Al-Jazeera.

We need your help! Please join us in calling on the U.S. State Department to publicly condemn the attacks by tweeting this:

.@statedept, condemn Chinese hacker attack on @guggenheim’s @change campaign to free Ai Weiwei @aiww: http://chn.ge/fnOU4H #freeaiww

This aim of this online attack originating in China is to prevent the lawful, democratic organizing of American citizens.

“Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to start, join, and win campaigns about the issues they care about, and we do not intend to stop this campaign or the hundreds of other Change.org campaigns because of this attack,” said Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “We need your support. Please ask the U.S. State Department to condemn the attacks on Change.org by Chinese hackers.”

The U.S. government’s reaction to previous Chinese attacks on U.S. companies like Google is to investigate and condemn them.

“Change.org is experiencing an ongoing, highly sophisticated denial of service attack originating in China which is clearly in response to the viral success of a campaign by leading global art museums to free China’s most famous artist,” Rattray said. “In the past, the U.S. State Department has aggressively gone to bat for U.S. companies attacked from hackers in China.”

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

For exclusive quotes, media can contact Benjamin Joffe-Walt at press@change.org.

Photo: Marc Nozell

Chinese Hackers Attack Change.org Platform in Reaction to Ai Weiwei Campaign

Tue, 2011-04-19 10:53

Attackers use distributed denial of service attack to bring down the world’s fastest growing social action platform after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries call for release of Chinese dissident artist.

Chinese hackers temporarily brought down the world’s fastest-growing social action platform after more than 90,000 people in 175 countries endorsed an online call for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Weiwei, best known for his role in the construction of the Beijing Olympic stadium and his recent Sunflower Seeds exhibition at the Tate Modern, has become an increasingly outspoken critic of the Chinese government in recent years, in particular over the handling of the 2008 earthquake in the country’s Sichuan province.

The cyber attack on Change.org follows the viral success of a petition calling for Ai Weiwei’s release by leading global art museums, including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Tate Modern, London, as well as the Association of Art Museum Directors. The campaign is attracting more than 10,000 new supporters a day and is now the most popular international campaign on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing activism platform with some 3.5 million monthly visitors.

The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack began early Monday and made the site completely inaccessible for a few hours. Change.org issued a formal request for urgent assistance to both the FBI and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian Pacific Affairs within hours of the attack.

“We do not know the reason or exact source of these attacks,” said Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org. “All we know is that after the unprecedented success of a campaign by leading global art museums using our platform to call on the Chinese government to release Ai Weiwei, we became the victims of highly sophisticated denial of service attacks from locations in China.”

“We’ve notified the U.S. State Department of the situation and asked for their immediate assistance,” Rattray added. “Our engineers have been able to keep up the site during parts of the attack, but we’ve had some down time and without government assistance there are limits to what we can do.”

Change.org, a platform which allows anyone, anywhere to launch online social action campaigns, has been blocked in China at various points over the last few years.

For exclusive quotes, media can contact Benjamin Joffe-Walt at press@change.org.

Photo: Carloe Liu

100 Victories in 100 Days

Thu, 2011-04-14 10:28

Six months ago, the accomplished columnist Malcolm Gladwell published a scathing critique of online activism in The New Yorker.

Online activism, he said, is “a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger,” making it “easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact.”

His heart is in the right place, and I’ll be the first to admit, the seductive cynicism of Mr Gladwell’s critique was remarkable, took me back and had me questioning what I do every day.

Today I have one request of Mr Gladwell: visit www.change.org/victories.

Earlier this week Change.org, the world’s fastest growing online activism platform, celebrated the 100th victory of 2011 in as many days (actually we had 103 victories in 100 days)… Change.org is now winning social change campaigns on average more than once a day.

The argument that online organizing is defined by weak connections which lead to minimal real world impact simply doesn’t hold water when compared to the myriad, diverse and impressive real world victories activists have been able to drive over the last 100 days alone.

Yes, some of these victories signaled structural changes while others were moments of symbolism. Some were directly the result of innovative and risky online and offline organizing by activists in the Change.org community, while others were milestones in larger movements of which Change.org is one small, supportive cog.

But taken as a whole, it’s a testament to our power as a set of organizing communities that we have been able to use an organizing platform like Change.org to regularly drive and support real world change in such a diverse set of situations across such a wide net of causes.

We opened 2011 with a massive victory in a human trafficking campaign in California, as then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger granted imprisoned child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan clemency. Forced into prostitution at just 13 and enslaved for three years, Sara snapped one night and shot her trafficker. For a crime committed as a traumatized child, she was sentenced to life in prison without parole. But over the course of a year, more than 60,000 Change.org members joined many groups calling on Schwarzenegger to grant Sara clemency, participated in social media organizing, and even sent holiday cards asking for her freedom. Sara followed the Change.org campaign closely, telling us that she was deeply grateful for the work of so many Change.org supporters.

Sara’s win was closely followed by a victory in a campaign calling on the online marketplace Etsy to remove an offensive “rape congratulations” card from the site. After 17,000 Change.org members called on Etsy to remove the card, the site not only did so but agreed to change its terms of use to prohibit products that disparage people based on gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities.

February opened with the stirring story of Bridgett Wright, whose two cats were killed by a man named Russell Swigart in 2008. Swigart, who had a history of using violence against animals to threaten women, became the first person in Kentucky charged with felony animal torture. But less than 2.5 years into his sentence, Swigart was up for parole. Wright, refusing to live in fear, started a campaign on Change.org, hoping to gather 1,000 signatures of support to keep Swigart behind bars. Only a few weeks later, she walked into her victim’s hearing with more than 15,000 signatures. The parole board honored Wright’s request and denied Swigart’s parole with the maximum 2-year deferment.

Then came the inspiring story of grassroots activism around the Borneo Scraps coal-fired power plant. It’s hard to think of a worse place to build a coal-fired power plant than in Borneo, an island with rich rainforests, pristine beaches, and a tourism economy. In mid-February, after three years of activism against the plant, the Sabah government officially scrapped the plans. A strong grassroots coalition involving activists all over the world, including more than 3,500 people who took action through Change.org, prompted the reversal.

Late that month North America’s largest wholesale club Costco gave into a massive Greenpeace campaign, supported by Change.org, and agreed to implement a sustainable seafood program. After 100,000 people (18,000 of whom came from Change.org!) petitioned CEO Jim Sinegal, the wholesaler agreed to activists’ terms and immediately stopped selling 12 species of red list fish.

In early March, more than 5,000 Change.org members got 20-year-old Regina Husman and her mother, Eveline Rahardja, released from an immigrant detention center. Eveline fled religious persecution in Indonesia and settled in the United States with her daughter over a decade ago. Regina’s boyfriend of six years, Benjamin Young, used Change.org to recruit supporters from all over the country to demand Regina and Eveline’s release.

Then from the townships of Cape Town, came a tiny group of lesbian activists who started an international fight against ‘corrective rape’, whereby men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight. In less than a month, their call for South Africa’s justice minister to take action on ‘corrective rape’ became the most popular Change.org petition of all time, taking ‘corrective rape’ from an unspoken epidemic to a national discussion. In mid-March, those same township activists walked with Change.org into the halls of South Africa’s Parliament and convinced some of the most powerful officials in the country to agree to research, develop and implement a national action plan to tackle ‘corrective’ rape.

Then our Gay Rights community won a remarkable campaign against tech giant Apple, which had refused to remove an application which advocated “curing” gay people of their sexual orientation from it’s App Store. After 150,000 emails from Change.org members, and considerable pressure from the nonprofit Truth Wins Out, Apple pulled the app, agreeing that it was offensive and in violation of their editorial standards.

“Truth Wins Out was honored to have the support of more than 150,000 Change.org members, who helped send a message to Apple that ‘ex-gay’ therapy is dangerous, harmful, damaging, and has no place on the iTunes platform,” said John Becker, Director of Communications and Development with Truth Wins Out. “This is really a testament to how the power of online organizing can be harnessed to advance social change and confront homophobia.”

For the big win – 2011 Victory #100 – two campaigns simultaneously ended in victory on the same day:

First, a student movement for religious tolerance scored 2011 Victory #100 when it was announced that UCLA’s Islamic Studies program will re-open this fall after being frozen since 2007. Students had rallied, demonstrated, and attracted more than 5,400 signatures of support from the Change.org community. As we at Change.org blogged about and publicized their campaign, students kept the petition updated and finely-targeted, marshaling national support to show UCLA administrators that this was far larger than a campus issue. Then a massive social media, press and adbusting campaign tied for 2011 Victory #100 when Fiat and Lacoste agreed to pull their advertising campaigns from an Argentine magazine publishing rape threats.

Last but more certainly not least, long-time Change.org member Kenniss Henry pulled through at the 11th hour (just before the 100 day deadline) with a victory in the Maryland General Assembly. The death of Kenniss’s only child, killed on her bicycle last year in a hit-and-run accident, led the mother to become a major force in the passage of an important bill that enacts stricter penalties for reckless drivers who cause road fatalities. The legislation had been stalled in the House of Delegates for six years straight. But after Ms. Henry recruited more than 5,000 Change.org members to push for the legislation, the bill passed in a last-minute vote.

There is more to come, and so much more we can do, but let’s take a minute to just say ‘YES YES YES!’

Thanks from all of us on the Change.org campaigns team to everyone who took action!

Alex, Amanda, Andrea, Ben, BJW, Carol, Eden, Eleanor, Eric, Jackie, Jenna, Jess, Judith, Kate, Maria, Mike, Patrick, Sarah, Shelby, Stephanie and Weldon

Photo: admanramblings

2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study: Does Your Organization Measure Up?

Thu, 2011-03-24 10:59

Have you ever wondered how your organization’s metrics compare with other nonprofits? Every year, our good friends at M+R Strategic Services and NTEN work with many different nonprofits in order to answer just that question. The M+R research released yesterday provides nonprofits with benchmarks across a variety of mediums, specifically focused around key issues like fundraising and advocacy. To help us make the most of all that data, M+R’s Senior Strategist Steve Peretz has highlighted some of the key findings below. Check it out, and see how your organization stacks up.

The 2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study is out now (today!) from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN.

This year’s study looks at performance data from 40 nonprofits—more groups than ever before, which means more numbers to crunch and more charts for you to geek out over.  (If you’re into that kind of thing.  Which we are.)

If you’re ready for it, you can skip straight to the full report.

Or here are my top takeaways from this year’s study – and I recommend following along with the Benchmarks Infographic shown at right:

  • International groups saw an enormous 163 percent increase in dollars raised from 2009 to 2010, largely because of to 2010’s emergencies in Haiti and Pakistan.
  • All groups – including International – saw a 14% change in dollars raised online—but take out International’s explosive growth and the other groups in our study still saw a steady 10% increase in dollars raised online from 2009 to 2010, the same percentage increase those groups saw from 2008 to 2009.
  • Advocacy emails had the highest open, click-through, and response rates of any type of email we evaluated, as well as the lowest unsubscribe rate. Fundraising emails had the lowest click-through rate.
  • On Facebook, the “Most Popular” nod went to Wildlife / Animal Welfare organizations in our study: the Wildlife / Animal Welfare sector had a Facebook fan page action rate nearly twice as high as the average.
  • There’s still tremendous room to grow on Facebook and Twitter: On average, nonprofits had just 110 Facebook fan page users and 19 Twitter followers for every 1,000 email subscribers.

See for yourself by downloading the FREE report here

Onward!

Steve Peretz

M+R Senior Analyst

HR