|Method||Petition, demonstrations, supporting independent press in conflict areas|
|Key people||Ricken Patel (ED), 50 employees and several freelancers|
Avaaz is a global civic organization launched in January 2007 that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict; it works to "close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want." The organization operates in 15 languages and claims over thirty million members in 194 countries, and The Guardian considers it "the globe's largest and most powerful online activist network".
Origin of the word
|Look up آواز (âvâz) in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The name "Avaaz", according to the organisation itself, means "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages.
Avaaz.org was co-founded by Res Publica, a "community of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance, civic virtue and deliberative democracy", and MoveOn.org, an American non-profit progressive public policy advocacy group. It was also supported by Service Employees International Union, a founding partner, and GetUp!, an Australian non-profit campaigning organisation.
Avaaz's individual co-founders include Ricken Patel, Tom Pravda, former Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser, Australian progressive entrepreneur David Madden, Jeremy Heimans (co-founders of Purpose.com), and Andrea Woodhouse. The board consists of Ricken Patel (president), Tom Pravda (secretary), Eli Pariser (board chairman), and Ben Brandzel (treasurer).
Avaaz's founding president and executive director is the Canadian-British Ricken Patel. He studied PPE (politics, philosophy, economics) at Balliol College, Oxford University. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University. He worked for the International Crisis Group around the world, including in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan, where he says "he learnt how to bring rebel forces to the negotiation table, to monitor elections (covertly), to restore public faith in once corrupt political systems and to spot when foreign forces were being manipulated." He returned to the US and volunteered for MoveOn.org, where he learned how to use online tools for activism.
Funding, campaigns selection process and management
"Since 2009, Avaaz has not taken donations from foundations or corporations, nor has it accepted payments of more than $5,000 (£3,100)" The Guardian reports. "Instead, it relies simply on the generosity of individual members, who have now raised over $20m (£12.4m)." In 2011 it had around 50 staff.
Global campaigns selection process
Avaaz global campaigns are managed by a team of campaigners working from over 30 countries, including the UK, India, Lebanon and Brazil. They communicate with members via email, and employ campaigning tactics including online public petitions, videos, and email-your-leader tools. In some cases Avaaz also uses advertisements and commissions legal advice to clarify how best to take a campaign forward, and stages "sit-ins, rallies, phone-ins and media friendly stunts". Examples of stunts include "taking a herd of cardboard pigs to the doors of the World Health Organisation to demand an investigation into the link between swine flu and giant pig farms and creating a three-mile human chain handshake from the Dalai Lama to the doors of the Chinese Embassy in London to request dialogue between the parties".
Suggestions for campaigns come from members, supplemented by guidance from teams of specialists. Once a suggestion has been taken up as having potential, tester email are polled to 10,000 Avaaz members; if the emails receive a sufficient response, the campaign is opened up to all Avaaz members. In 2010 The Economist suggested that "the way Avaaz bunches unlikely causes together may be an asset in a world where campaigns, like race and class, can still segregate people, not reconcile them."
Local campaigns platform
In 2012 the group launched a distributed organizing platform allowing any of its millions of members to launch their own petitions in minutes. Within months the community campaigning site has been put to use in a number of important causes with over 8,000 people starting their own campaigns in its first few months: from defending New Zealand’s critically endangered Maui’s dolphins to helping repatriate 100 Indian migrant workers who were held by a construction company in Bahrain.
Avaaz has united practical idealists from around the world. Director Ricken Patel said in 2011 "We have no ideology per se. Our mission is to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. Idealists of the world unite!"
Another conservative Canadian, Ezra Levant, tried to make a link between Soros and Avaaz.org as an indirect supporter through MoveOn, but the article was later retracted as baseless and an apology was offered to Soros.
Some question whether Avaaz's focus on online petitions and email campaigns may encourage laziness, transforming potential activism into clicktivism. A New Republic article accuses them of false claims regarding Paul Conroy's escape from Syria. Jillian York has accused Avaaz of lack of transparency and arrogance. The Defensor Da Natureza's blog has accused Avaaz of taking credit for the success of the Ficha Limpa anti-corruption bill in Brazil, which Luis Nassif reposted. The Art of Annihilation blog have also published an investigative report.
- "About Us".
- Pilkington, Ed (March 2, 2012). "Avaaz faces questions over role at centre of Syrian protest movement". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Res Publica: Bürger machen Politik".
- About Us at the Wayback Machine (archived January 10, 2008)
- "Wakey-wakey". The Economist. 2007-02-15.
- "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax". fdncenter.org. 2010-11-08.
- Sarah Bentley (2011-02-09). "The Times profile of Avaaz and Ricken Patel". The Times.
- Patrick Kingsley (2011-07-20). "Avaaz: activism or 'slacktivism'?". The Guardian.
- "A town crier in the global village". The Economist. 2010-09-02.
- "Start a petition". Avaaz. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Save the Maui Dolphin". Avaaz. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- "Friends trapped in Bahrain". Avaaz. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- Ed Pilkington (2011-04-25). "Avaaz – the online activist network that is targeting Rupert Murdoch's bid". The Guardian.
- Kevin Libin (2010-09-20). "Kevin Libin: The third party no one talks about". National Post.
- Steven Chase (2010-09-17). "Billionaire Soros threatening to sue Sun Media". The Globe and Mail.
- Brian Lilley, QMI Agency Parliamentary Bureau (2010-09-01). "Anti-Sun TV News campaign in U.S.". Toronto Sun. "Avaaz is backed by MoveOn.org a lobby group that has taken millions of dollars from currency speculator George Soros."
- Etan Vlessing (2010-10-07). "George Soros accused in Sun TV News debate". Nielsen Business Media.
- kadyomalley (2008-10-06). "Avaaz.ca vs. Baird: The Shadowy Foreign Organization strikes back!".
- "Retraction and apology to George Soros". Toronto Sun. 2010-09-18.
- Evgeny Morozov (2009-05-19). "Foreign Policy: Brave New World Of Slacktivism". NPR.
- van Zuylen-Wood, Simon. "The Great Escape: Has One NGO Been Lying About Its Role in Syria?". Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- York, Jillian. "On Avaaz". Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- "Petições da Avaaz rendem milhões de dólares. As campanhas são sérias ou é golpe na internet?". Defensor da Natureza. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Nassif, Luis. "Avaaz, golpe ou verdade?". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "investigative-report-on-avaaz". Cory Morningstar.
- AVAAZ home page
- Avaaz's channel on YouTube
- "Avaaz.org's Ricken Patel on BBC World's HARDtalk". 3 November 2007.