Harry Potter Alliance
The logo of the Harry Potter Alliance
|Motto||The Weapon We Have Is Love|
|Focus||Human rights, Education, and Literacy|
The Harry Potter Alliance (also known as the HPA) is a nonprofit organisation run primarily by Harry Potter fans. It was founded by Andrew Slack in 2005 to draw attention to human rights violations in Sudan. Since then, the organisation's campaigns have focused on topics such as literacy, United States immigration reform, economic justice, gay rights, sexism, labor rights, mental health, body image, and climate change. They have received recognition from many popular figures in the Harry Potter community and have been the subject of multiple academic studies on fan activism and civic engagement among youth.
The Harry Potter Alliance was founded in 2005 by comedian Andrew Slack and the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters, initially collecting donations for Amnesty International at their shows. In 2006, the organisation partnered with Walmart Watch to create a series of YouTube videos about the "Dark Lord Waldemart" in order to educate fans about Walmart's labour practices. The three videos have been viewed nearly three and a half million times total.
In 2007, the Harry Potter Alliance broadcast a special edition of PotterCast, a popular fandom podcast, called "Becoming Dumbledore's Army: Harry Potter Fans for Darfur," to educate fans about genocide in Darfur. They partnered with STAND, a student branch of the Genocide Intervention Network, and asked members to participate in the annual STANDFast project by giving up one luxury for a week and donating the money they saved to STAND to benefit civilians in Darfur. The effort raised $15,000 for STAND. They also joined the 24 Hours for Darfur project, which sought to make a 24-hour video of individuals speaking out against the genocide in Darfur, by asking members to submit videos as fans. When CNN.com's asked for submissions of fans showing their love for Harry Potter to their iReporter site, the Harry Potter Alliance asked members to upload submissions showing their love for Harry Potter while holding signs that said, "Save Darfur." Then, in 2008, the HPA asked members to withhold support for sponsors of the 2008 Summer Olympics who were "implicitly funding the genocide in Darfur through overseas investments."
In conjunction with the release of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film in 2009, the organisation launched a "What Would Dumbledore Do" campaign, asking fans to tweet about the lessons they learned from Harry Potter's headmaster Albus Dumbledore using #dumbledore, attend the film release wearing a nametag with one thing Dumbledore taught them, and apply those lessons in their lives.
The HPA also began its now-annual Accio Books! campaign in 2009, collecting over 13,000 books for their partner Agohozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. Since then, the annual drive has collected over 86,000 books, benefiting The Delta Center for Culture and Learning who distributed the books to communities in need across the Mississippi Delta, the Imagine Better library at Bedford-Stuvyesant New Beginnings Charter School, Read Indeed, Books For Kids, and other local organisations. Since 2013, they have partnered with the International Quidditch Association and NaNoWriMo for the campaign.
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Harry Potter Alliance partnered with Partners In Health and other fan communities to create Helping Heal Haiti. With the help of partners, the Wizard Rock community, Maureen Johnson, John and Hank Green, the HPA auctioned over 100 items including the Harry Potter books and a thank you card donated by J. K. Rowling. In two weeks, the HPA raised over $123,000 for Partners in Health In Haiti. The money raised helped Partners in Health charter five planes to Haiti full of medical supplies. The planes were named after characters in the Harry Potter series and DFTBA ("Don't Forget To Be Awesome") in honor of the Nerdfighter community.
In June 2010, the Harry Potter Alliance competed against 10,000 other charitable organizations to win a grant from the Chase Community Giving Contest on Facebook. They received 38,689 votes to win the first place grant of $250,000. The money received from this grant went towards expanding their reach and improving their literacy and LGBT rights programs.
In June 2010, The Harry Potter Alliances and Savetheinternet.com joined together to campaign for Net Neutrality. They launched a viral video consisting of many well-known figures speaking out for the cause, several of the people who took part were John Green, Hank Green, Wil Wheaton, Maureen Johnson and Adam Savage. In this video they all urged the Federal Communications Commission to preserve Net Neutrality.
In the months leading up to the final Harry Potter film release, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the Harry Potter Alliance launched their Deathly Hallows campaign. Each month, the organisation highlighted a different "horcrux," or injustice, for members to work to end. The first horcrux, "Starvation Wages," focused on inhumane working conditions in the chocolate industry and asked that the Harry Potter themed chocolate frogs made by Warner Brothers be fair-trade certified. This later developed into the HPA's currently on-going "Not in Harry's Name" campaign. According to their website, an independent report gave Harry Potter chocolate an "F" in human rights. Executive director Andrew Slack personally reached out to Warner Bros. CEO Barry M. Meyer about the HPA's concerns, and Meyer responded with comments about their commitment to ethical sourcing. Slack reached out again to discuss ways to ensure the ethical sourcing of Potter chocolate, but he was met with comment that they are satisfied with the practices of the company they are using to source the chocolate. On January 13, 2015, the Washington Post reported that Warner Bros. had committted to ensuring by the end of 2015 that "'all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets and through our licensed partners will be 100-percent UTZ or Fair Trade certified.'"
During the Deathly Hallows campaign, the HPA also partnered with ReachOut.com to fight the effects of depression and the "dementor horcrux," challenged harmful body image, incorporated an Accio Books! book drive, teamed up with Marriage Equality Rhode Island and the Gay-Straight Alliance on marriage equality and bullying, and worked with Splashlife to address climate crisis.
On July 31, 2012, staff member Julian Gomez posted a video the organisation's YouTube channel explaining that he was an undocumented immigrant. The organisation partnered with Define American and later launched their "Superman Is an Immigrant" campaign, inviting members to tell their families' immigration stories and change the conversation about immigration reform.
Later that year, the HPA ran a fundraiser entitled Equality for the Win, or Equality FTW, on Indiegogo raising a total of $94,803 dollars from 2,289 donors across the globe for their equality-related initiatives. They nearly doubled their goal of $50,000. Donors gave money in exchange for exclusive perks from people such as John and Hank Green, Potter Puppet Pals, Evanna Lynch, LeakyCon, StarKid and more. They have repeated the fundraiser each fall since, raising over $180,000 in 2013 and over $150,000 in 2014.
At the LeakyCon held in London in 2013, The Harry Potter Alliance created the Apparating Library, a program where attendees donate one book to the library and receive a voucher to come back another day during the convention to redeem their voucher for a different book. The library has since been present at other large fan events, such as LeakyCon and VidCon. In 2014 as part of their annual Accio Books campaign, they created an Apparating Library in Detroit, Michigan, to distribute books donated through the campaign.
With the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013, the Harry Potter launched their on-going Odds In Our Favor campaign, focused on economic justice. The campaign encouraged fans to hijack Lionsgate's social media marketing with three-finger salutes and discussion of real-world economic inequality. Wired described the tactics as "culture jamming". They have parterned with groups such as AFL-CIO.
In 2012, the HPA ran a fundraiser entitled Equality for the Win, or Equality FTW, on Indiegogo raising a total of $94,803 dollars from 2,289 donors across the globe for their equality-related initiatives. They nearly doubled their goal of $50,000. Donors gave money in exchange for exclusive perks from people such as John and Hank Green, Potter Puppet Pals, Evanna Lynch, LeakyCon, StarKid and more. They have repeated the fundraiser each fall since, raising over $180,000 in 2013 and over $150,000 in 2014.
The HPA also is a frequent recipient of donations from the Project4Awesome.
JK Rowling discovered this group, and according to Time she said, "It's incredible, it's humbling, and it's uplifting to see people going out there and doing that in the name of your character." She soon after featured the organisation on her website.
Emerson Spartz, founder of MuggleNet, has embraced the Harry Potter Alliance. "As readers we get very emotional when werewolves and house elves are being discriminated against," he describes. "The Harry Potter Alliance shows how those feelings can relate to real problems that we can solve."
Researcher Henry Jenkins said, "The HP Alliance has created a new form of civic engagement which allows participants to reconcile their activist identities with the pleasurable fantasies that brought the fan community together in the first place."
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