Through his organization Purpose, Jeremy Heimans has empowered and mobilized millions of people to build the change they seek.
“People, when organized, and when they have the sense of their own power, can transform systems, transform society, transform the economy.”
It doesn’t seem like there was ever a time Jeremy Heimans underestimated his power as an individual. From the age of eight, the native Aussie was already taking an active role in changing the status quo, lobbying against environmental degradation and nuclear proliferation. Now as an adult, he instinctively understands the power individuals wield, especially when brought together under a common cause. Of course, as Jeremy explains, “it sometimes takes time to convince people of their own power, of their own ability to make dramatic change.” But once they fully understand, “that even if it’s a small incremental piece of a much larger fight, that’s worth doing,” those actions “are going to aggregate to a very powerful force.”
Jeremy, having already helped start Avaaz.org and Getup.org (Australia’s largest political group), founded Purpose, which relies on “organizing the collected power of millions of people,” to build movements (economic, political, social) that “can drive really significant change in the world.” He says that, as an entrepreneur, a big challenge is perseverance, and admits to plenty of experiences where he wasn’t sure things would come together. Nonetheless, he pressed on, “driven by the belief in the value of the work."
As Jeremy looks to the future, he believes evolving an organization is essential to staying relevant. “We’re always going to be engaged in a struggle for rebalancing the power dynamics between elites and ordinary people and that’s not really something that we’ll probably change.” But, he believes, “as these organizations mature” new models can emerge. One of his latest projects, AllOut, “the world’s first transnational online gay rights organization” was launched in 2011. Jeremy explains his reasons for launching AllOut, “It’s really important to focus the world not just on the fight for marriage in places like the U.S., but on the 75 countries where being gay is criminalized and the 10 countries where being gay is actually served with a death penalty.” It seems his beliefs have resonated with quite a number of people; only a year in, the organization has reached 1 million members.