A user-funded platform for focusing online outrage - a Utopian model for future democracy or the death of direct protest?
Scale: Operating in 194 countries with over 30 million members
The online petition website has opened up urgent social, political and economic injustices from around the world to the power of the crowd – from the toppling of corrupt and prejudiced politicians to saving Europe’s bees from lethal pesticides.
Avaaz (which means ‘Voice’ in Farsi and many other languages) has bought global legitimacy to online petitioning, and built up a reputation for impact and the championing social justice on a global scale. Despite some criticism about fostering a new age of ‘clicktivism’, Avaaz continues to grow and remain true to its principles of engagement and autonomy.
To remain free of outside influence and control, the organisation relies on funding sourced from its members. Whilst this may sound like a potentially hazardous model, the passionate community of ‘practical idealists’ that drive many of the Avaaz campaigns have provided millions in funding, demonstrating the capacity for a crowd to fund their own international political voice.
It is now considered one of the most powerful campaigning networks in the world, working in 15 languages on six continents.