Change.org has announced plans to divert millions of dollars to support racial justice campaigning, days after former staff in the UK joined criticism of the company.
The company says it is still deciding how to allocate funding, and did not rule out opening the fund to UK-based campaigners.
The petitions website faced accusations last week that people making donations through the site were misled into thinking their money would go to charities when it actually went to the company.
The accusation focused on two petitions demanding justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were killed in incidents involving police in the US. Anyone signing the petitions was invited to “chip in” with a donation along with their signature.
Several former UK employees called on Change.org to use that money to support campaigns for justice instead of keeping it as funding for the organisation, echoing criticism by more than a hundred former staff in the US.
A $6m dollar fund
Nick Allardice, acting chief executive of Change.org, said that more than 800,000 people made donations when they signed the two petitions, raising a total of $9.9m (or just under £8m).
Some $6m (£4.8m) from these donations will now be invested in supporting campaigns for racial justice, through funding BAME-led organisations and grassroots community organisers, Allardice said. Of the remaining money, $1.5m will be spent on establishing a team at Change.org working exclusively on social justice campaigns, and $2.5m will be re-invested into the company’s promotional work.
The company said that it plans to take a “similar approach” to future petitions which reach 100,000 signatures.
Change.org was not able to say how much of the money was raised by donors in the UK, but said that more information would be released in the coming weeks.
Change.org told Civil Society News: “We want to support both organisations and grassroots organisers on the front lines of critical racial justice work. A team of black staff will be working with our petition starters, as well as experts in the movement, to identify where to allocate funding.”
Allardice said: “We take the responsibility to ensure this money is as impactful as possible very seriously. We’ll consult with racial justice and movement experts on the best organisations to partner with in order to maximise for impact.
“We’ll also involve the petition starters in deciding on the final options in the fund, and allow everyone who contributed to promote these petitions to vote and inform how the money is divided across those options.”