Change.org is closing its Kenyan offices after two years citing barriers in strategy saying its campaign strategy has been stretched too thin. Further, the organisation has said it has witnessed little brand or growth marketing expertise with the office not having enough resources to create a “more powerful product.”
The company says that it has resulted to the difficult decision to reduce its difficult footprint and shift from campaigning to marketing expertise and part ways from its Kenyan staff.
“Despite our potential for impact over the past 2 years our core metrics – including victories have declined by an average of 50%. This reality calls for a different strategy than the one we’ve been pursuing – one focussed on increasing the power of petitions through a more powerful product, and increasing the number of petitions through brand and growth marketing,” the organization told its employees.
Change.org however states it is financially stable despite a flat growth in its Kenyan revenue growth. To this end the organization through a memo to its employees contradicts itself that it requires no reduction in its overall costs but says it needs to redistribute its resources.
Further the company says the redistribution is not related to its employees’ performance most of whom have since been rendered jobless.
“No this restructuring is entirely a strategic decision for the company and does not reflect on you or your performance in any way. Those that are leaving have contributed so much to the order to address these barriers to our impact and growth.”
The closure of the local office comes months after the organization was sued by its former country director Muthoni Maingi citing wrongful dismissal and gender bias. In her court submissions Ms Muthoni argued that no reasons were offered for her redundancy as per the law and wants the court to compel the organization to pay her 12 months’ salary as per the Kenyan law.
The former employees will however benefit from a separation payment including six months of extended private healthcare and extended well-being being support.
Change.org says its “suspending its support” to its Kenyan office alongside its Nigeria, South Africa India, the smaller Latino markets and Russia which it names its most challenging non-democratic market.
Change.org, founded in 2007, is an online platform which allows users to create and sign petitions to advance various social causes by raising awareness and influencing decision-makers. The site is a US-based for-profit company and claims to have nearly 500 million users as of December 2022. Petitions often focus on causes such general justice, economic justice, criminal justice, human rights, education, environmental protection, animal rights, health, and sustainable food. The site also provides support and coaching for organizations and paid members to help further advance their causes.
Change.org makes revenue through a subscription membership model and people promoting petitions on the site. It operates as a for-profit, “venture-backed company that hosts activist petitions written by members of the public, gathers email addresses from signees, and encourages people to circulate the petitions heavily on social media. It has raised $72 million from backers, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.
Donations through the platform do not go to campaign makers, bur are instead channelled to help the campaign win and assist to build and maintain the platform.
Change.org members contribute monthly to sustain the technology and the small teams of campaigners who coach and support petition starters. Most of the company’s revenue is from advertising; individuals and organizations who start or sign petitions then chip in to promote those petitions to other site visitors.
After its inception, the website made revenue by running advertisements for advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International and list-building services to partner organizations. In May 2013, the website started “crowd-promoted petitions” that allowed a signatory to promote the petition by paying $5 to $1000 at the final stage of petition signing.