Avaaz is a civic organization that exists to promote activism for the causes of human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty and climate change, among other issues. While it is based in the United States, Avaaz promotes activism across the globe, and it is considered by many to be one of the most prominent and most powerful online networks for political activism. It was created in 2007 and is now made up of over 46 million members in 194 countries, all connected via the Internet. Avaaz’s model for activism revolves around organizing multitudes of individual movements–whether they be global, regional or even smaller-scale–for the purpose of creating larger and more powerful diplomatic forces. Although the company has a ‘core team’ of members spread across 6 continents, they also rely heavily on the help of thousands of volunteers. This enables the organization to campaign effectively in over 17 different languages.
Avaaz was initially founded via the efforts of a variety of groups. Res Publica, Service Employees International Union, and the progressive public policy advocate group MoveOn.org all contributed to its founding, as did individuals such as former Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello, Australian entrepreneur David Madden, and Avaaz’s founding President and current CEO, Ricken Patel. But no matter who occupies the leadership positions, group efforts are what make Avaaz successful in promoting global activism. Their website allows for the creation of new petitions via the Community Petitions platform, and the site also details some of the organization’s current efforts and informs visitors of how to get involved.
Avaaz has played a crucial role in a variety of political movements to date. During the protests of the 2009 presidential election in Iran, Avaaz created proxy servers that let protestors upload private footage onto public sites, and the organization also supported the civilian uprising that led to the Syrian Civil War by providing training and Internet communication equipment to protestors. Avaaz also campaigned heavily against Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. election, creating the slogan “Defeat Donald Trump” and creating a software tool to help overseas voters register in the United States. In addition to these high profile actions, Avaaz continues to support hundreds of initiatives around the world, whether they be grassroots movements or larger-scale action, and it is by connecting activists from disparate movements that Avaaz is able to affect the greatest change.