LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman recently announced that he is leading the latest funding round — along with Bill Gates and Y Combinator president Sam Altman — of more than $30 million for Change.org, the site for social justice petitions.
“Change.org, the global hub for collective action, is a crucial democratizing force in this era of growing civic participation,” said Hoffman on LinkedIn. “It helps enable a world where you don’t need to hire a lobbyist to have real impact on the issues and policies that matter to you.”
Change.org was founded by Ben Rattray in 2007, today it attracts nearly 200 million users from 196 countries. The website performs functions that are key to a healthy democracy, informing its visitors and users regarding topics and developments locally, nationally, and even globally. Consequently, Change.org users don’t merely read the information they are exposed to, they act on it, by starting and signing petitions that have real impact. Since its inception, Change.org petitions have resulted in more than 21,000 victories.
But Change.org is not exempt from taxes like a nonprofit, it is a business; charging companies and nonprofits to sponsor petitions, which brings in $20 million in revenue per year. Although that seems like a lot, that wasn’t enough to keep them from having to lay off 30% of their staff back in September. Now Change.org has introduced crowdfunding, generating “millions of dollars of revenue.”
Hoffman has invested in Change.org in the past as well; in 2014, he was part of a large group of high-profile investors including Richard Branson and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams.
Hoffman is supporting Change.org for charitable reasons: “As part of my commitment to help Change.org achieve its mission, I am pledging to donate any increase in equity value I realize from this investment to non-profit organizations, including Change.org’s own charitable arm, the Change.org Foundation,” wrote Hoffman on LinkedIn.