Ben Rattray had his life all figured out. After college, he was going to be an investment banker, living the dream, probably making millions. But then his younger brother shared a secret that changed everything. His brother was telling Ben and the world that he was gay – and it hadn’t been an easy decision.
“The pain he experienced wasn’t so much the people who were explicitly anti- gay. It was the people that stood by and didn’t do anything about it. Personally, I had been one of those people. So I am ashamed, trying to figure out what to do.”
And then something clicked. Ben knew what he wanted to do.
“I’m going to dedicate myself to never staying silent again; to empower people to say what they want around issues they care about.”
True to his promise, in 2007, Ben founded Change.org, a new idea in social enterprise that is exploding on the internet.
“People with a simple action with their mobile phone can take action, have real impact and then do something offline as well.”
Change.org is the world's largest online platform for social change, empowering people everywhere to take action on the issues that matter to them most.
Every day, people around the globe use Change.org to transform their communities – locally, nationally and globally. Whether it's a mother fighting bullying in school after her daughter’s suicide, customers pressing banks to drop unfair fees, or citizens holding corrupt officials to account, more than one million petitions for change have been started, leading to victories for 30 million people on Change.org, including a brother whose petition galvanized three quarters of a million people and won his sister’s release from an Iranian prison.
With the simple click of a mouse, Ben and his staff make it possible for anyone to start a campaign and immediately mobilize their own virtual army, to make governments and companies more responsive and accountable.
Since its founding in 2007, Change.org has achieved international prominence, attracting 95 million users in 196 countries, over a million user-generated petitions, and coverage, and coverage in every major international media outlet.
Change.org reports seeing “20-thousand new petitions every month” with explosive growth in places like India and Indonesia. But Ben says there is more to their mission than just having you sign your name. He’s hoping that more and more ‘clicktivists’ will become activists.
“Our goal is not just to get people to take action but actually to experience real change, to feel that they had a hand in creating something that had impact on their lives which then makes it much more likely they’ll take action in the future.”
In the end, Ben wants everyone to discover the strength in numbers; what’s possible when people stand up and speak out. On their website, Change.org invites you to get online and get onboard.
‘We're working for a world where no one is powerless, and where creating change is a part of everyday life. We're just getting started, and we hope you'll join us.’
Ben Rattray has been recognized as one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world, Fortune's 40 Under 40 rising young business leaders, and Fast Company's most creative people in business. He is a graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics.
Become an activist in your neighborhood, your state or the world by joining the 95 million others who've started or joined a campaign on www.change.org.