Tag Archives: change.org

How to scale a community and keep it engaged

Kajal from Change.orgThe March Building Online Communities MeetUp’s speaker was Kajal Odedra from the worlds largest petitions platform change.org. From their beginning in 2011 they now have ten million UK users.

Kajal talked through her six insights, which were:

1. (Having an) authentic voice – this is really important (and impactful) for their community. People sharing their own story, what brought them to the campaign they have started, and updating the community themselves make it more real and engaging.

lJLqdSPbEXUqtlM-800x450-noPadFor example, Fahma Mohamed‘s campaign on educating girls about FGM before the summer they are most at risk was a very specific ask within the whole FGM campaign, but came from her personal experience and her knowledge – which gave the campaign its strength.

2. Little big thing – this means the tangible thing that brings your issue to life. In contrast, really big things can be hard to make sound urgent. So many campaigns have a specific ask to a specific organisation or business – they may seem small against some of the big challenges and changes people want to see, but they are more easily winnable, and everyone likes to see success.

For example the campaign to get Boots to equalise prices betweens men’s and women’s products was very rapid. It caught the zeitgeist, but the ask was also very specific. It is not world peace but it is change!

3. People like email more than you think. This is a point that keeps coming up in different contexts. And it means that it’s fine to send updates etc. to your community.

Someone asked about the optimum frequency of emails? Kajal said they sometimes send as many as three in a day or two around important events, but otherwise weekly seems a good frequency, and a bit more for the most active users. She also noted that regular emails on a campaign are better than occasional ones (leading to fewer unsubscribes).

In change.org’s case updates on small wins or milestones is also a kind of reward and keeps people engaged.

4. Online + Offline. Not everything happens online. It’s always worth asking how people can engage with you online, but think also about how they can do more in the real world if they want to. Many people in your community will have useful skills they will be happy to share (for example legal or media expertise).

Change.org also work hard to build the capacity of their campaigners, so they train them and support them face-to-face as well as online. Their work with Laura who started her tampax campaign two years ago gave her confidence, kept the momentum going, and helped her support emerging campaigns and campaigners in other countries.

5. Crowdsource – how can your supporters help grow your movement? It’s always worth asking how people can help your campaign. In amongst those signatories are people with expertise and skills – you just have to ask. Change.org have a new user forum coming live soon, which will also allow you to list any useful skills you can make available to campaigners. 

6. Test test test. Never assume that you know what people want. So get them to tell you, by using A/B testing and other methods.

Kajal’s final point was about giving power to your community. In the Q&A she also noted that size isn’t always everything: even small but well-timed and targeted campaigns can make changes happen. And that you can also “pivot” your campaigns if need be.

Thanks to Tech Hub for supporting this meetup as always.