According to The Guardian, Avaaz is, “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network”. Avaaz is like many other similar organizations, but is truly unique in terms of reach and sheer membership. At present, Avaaz is 44 million members strong and they span the globe in 184 countries. This grass roots activist group stands at the ready to grapple serious issues in which climate issues, human rights, animal rights and issues of civil injustices are involved. The over-riding goal is building highly functioning democracies. Avaaz seeks to be at the core of that mission. Founder Ricken Patel says, “We owe it to ourselves and to each other to team up”.
Avaaz began in 2007 following founder Ricken Patel’s work experience with International Crisis Group. This, combined with his volunteer work at MoveOn.org gave Patel the pulse on the inner-workings of a successful civic organization. This backdrop is at the heart of bringing Avaaz to where it is today.
Avaaz is truly a “power of the people” movement. The lion’s share of their funding comes from small donations and the generosity of individual members. They haven’t taken any donations from foundations or corporations since 2009, and don’t accept payments over $5,000. Their success story speaks for itself, raising over $20 million to date, and a membership that doubles every year.
Even campaign ideas come from member’s suggestions and not come from the leadership. As in any democracy, the majority vote decides which campaigns move forward. Avaaz cleverly uses media stunts to advance issues. To highlight the link between swine flu and the industry of giant pig farms, Avaaz placed a herd of cardboard pigs on the doors of the World Health Organization to demand an investigation. This artful use of media friendly tactics grows membership and funding.
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