“Avaaz””meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”
Since its launch, Avaaz, an international citizen’s group, now operates in 15 languages and is served by a core team on six continents supported by thousands of active volunteers. The nonprofit also just hit the 15 million members mark — an impressive number for a grassroots organization.
Avaaz’s mission is to “empower millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues, from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change.” Over the past five years, it has organized thousands of individual efforts into collective missions that have produced powerful outcomes.
What makes this organization distinctly different from others is its global team (rather than a bureaucratic constituency that tends to different issues in different countries), which works on any issue of immediate concern: “Avaaz’s online community can act like a megaphone to call attention to new issues; a lightning rod to channel broad public concern into a specific, targeted campaign; a fire truck to rush an effective response to a sudden, urgent emergency; and a stem cell that grows into whatever form of advocacy or work is best suited to meet an urgent need.”
Each year, Avaaz sets overall priorities — from issues like climate change and the environment to human rights, torture, genocide and human trafficking — through all-member polls. The most favorable ideas are polled again and tested by 10,000 random members leaving only the campaigns with the most zealous response in the forefront of that year’s agenda.
When there is an issue of pressing concern within the global community, Avaaz shoots off an email to its 15 million members asking for support. Imagine the chain effect that can take place if many of its members share the issue with their friends and those friends share with others in their social circles — it’s the kind of movement that can overthrow governments and stop bad legislation in its tracks. It’s putting power back into the people’s hands and it’s working.
Looking toward the future, Avaaz hopes that people who join the community through a campaign on one issue go on to take action on another issue, and then another. The organization believes that collectively their community can be a source of great hope — one that connects people in such a way that “their dreams rhyme,” and enables them to cross over the “bridge leading from the world we have to the world we all want.”
*To find out who else is working to make the world a better place, check out our piece on Sevenly.
Photo by: Fora do Eixo/flickr