Online revolution: Covid crisis drives huge growth in digital campaigning

Digi campaigning

​Campaigners going online to create a better world #NeverMoreNeeded

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28th August 2020 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

The Covid crisis has driven a huge expansion in digital campaigning by civil society groups throughout the world.

Change.org, a platform for citizen driven social change, has published its Global Civic Engagement Index.

This shows that since January, coinciding with the outbreak of Covid-19, there has been a steep increase in people using online tools to voice their concerns, influence policy and persuade decision makers to make changes on political, societal and cultural issues. 

The Index, built by the Change.org Foundation and based on people’s engagement on its platform, reveals that there has been a significant increase in the way citizens are starting, joining and winning campaigns around the world.

Covid-19 related petitions and issues are surprisingly only a part of this growth. The data, analysed for the top 25 countries with highest engagement on Change.org from January 2020 to July 2020, compares its data against the same period last year. 

In 22 of the 25 top countries, Change.org Foundation saw a huge increase in support of petitions compared to 2019, with a global average increase of 81% in signatures.

Meanwhile in 23 out of the 25 countries, the number of petitions created increased dramatically, with a global average increase of 80%. 

In 10 of the 25 countries, the number of petitions created in the past seven months doubled compared to the last year.

User growth on Change.org has increased across all 25 countries, at an average of nearly 33% and the top ten countries with the highest civic engagement index are South Africa, Japan, Canada, United States, Peru, United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines and New Zealand.

Of the top ten countries online civic engagement in South Africa, Peru, Malaysia, and Philippines grew significantly during the pandemic, compared to 2019 and the four countries emerged as new adopters of civic engagement and online activism. South Africa, in particular, had the highest increase in engagement with the platform.

Of the 25 countries analysed over the past seven months, South Africa emerged as the clear leader in adopting online activism, accelerated by the pandemic. Traditionally, the country has had lower engagement on the Change.org platform.

However, since the start of the pandemic four million users in South Africa signed up to use the platform - this is six times higher than the user growth rate compared to 2019. Petition creation increased by 227%, and people supporting campaigns also increased by 1060% during this time period. 

This level of increase in engagement is a record high and reveals that people in the country were using online tools to their advantage to take a stand on issues such as  safety of women and girls, protecting nurses on the frontline, ensuring people could return to work and protecting students. 

Preethi Herman, global executive director at Change.org Foundation, said: “This report highlights not just the trends and index but many of the social, cultural and political challenges faced by millions around the world. 

“We are hearing from people around the world about not just their problems, but the solutions they deserve, and witnessing governments and decision makers recognising the need to respond to them online. The last few months have revealed that this world has entered a new era of civic engagement and digital activism and there are a number of non-traditional players who are leading the way to create a new wave of positive, people driven change.”