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AVAAZ -PROGRESS


Written in Projects: 10/04/13, 01:31:55 by jonathan  | Print article  | View all categories.
Dear amazing community,

I often get asked by Avaazers, “what happens after I sign a petition?” And the truth is, a HECK of a lot! Every Avaaz campaign springs from a massive global mandate, and then zeroes in on the best way for our voices to win. Here’s just two of our victories from the last few weeks: 

Remember when 2 million of us came together to stop the flogging of a 15-year old rape victim in the Maldives? Her sentence has been quashed! Here's what our team did to win: 

Maldives ad
Our ads threatened the profits of officials who owned parts of the tourism industry
  1. Spoke for hours with the Maldivian Attorney-General and Ministers and emailed the President at his personal account.
  2. Commissioned opinion polls showing massive support for reforms to protect girls. And wrote an Op-Ed in a major national paper.
  3. Persuaded a top Islamic scholar to speak out against flogging.
  4. Threatened to run an ad (right) in tourism publications, affecting the country's major industry.
  5. Visited the Maldives and the location where the girl was held, pressing officials directly.

Ahmed Shaheed, former Foreign Minister of the Maldives said “The Avaaz contribution was the spearhead of the campaign to overturn the flogging sentence; a petition signed by millions, a country visit, a public opinion survey, and persistent follow-up all proved irresistible.”

Another example: Remember how almost 2 million of us rallied to stop the Maasai tribe in Tanzania from being kicked off their land for a hunting reserve? Last week, the Prime Minister announced they could stay! The petition provided a powerful basis for what the team did next: 

Maasai
Maasai women gather to protest the eviction. Photo by Jason Patinkin
  1. Got CNN and the Guardian to visit the Maasai and break the wider story to the world.
  2. Advised Maasai elders on their campaigning strategy.
  3. Flooded Ministers and the President with messages -- forcing a debate in cabinet and Parliament.
  4. Ran a hard hitting newspaper ad in an influential paper which publicly shamed the government.
  5. Persuaded diplomats worldwide to raise the issue -- embarrassing the government.
  6. Financially supported Maasai elders to travel to the capital where they gathered to 'occupy' land outside of the Prime Minister’s office for weeks, refusing to leave until he met them.
Education cheque
Gordon Brown said: "A million dollars has been raised via the brilliant Avaaz.org, in just a few days." 

Brazil Open Vote
Key Brazilian Senator joins Avaaz "open vote" naked protest sending a clear message: "we have nothing to hide"
The victory belongs to the Maasai people, but our community helped them win by making this a global issue the government could no longer ignore. This hopefully ends a 20 year land battle!!

Of course, our community does a LOT more than petitions. Last week, we raised a $1 million challenge grant in a few days to donor governments to put Syrian refugee kids in school. At a UN meeting, I was able to put a cheque on the table and issue the challenge on behalf of over 40,000 Avaaz donors. UN Education Envoy Gordon Brown, who chaired the meeting, called our community's effort a "magnificent and impactful intervention" in getting other governments to give! 

And often it's not the Avaaz team but our community that does the direct lobbying. For example in Brazil, we're inches away from winning a massive fight to end the shady practice of 'secret voting' in the Congress. Our huge push helped win the vote in the lower house and right now, Senators’ telephones are ringing off the hook as Avaaz members across Brazil use our online calling tool to directly tell them to stop this corruption -- experts say a win is likely in days! 

It's this unique magic mix between a gigantic and spirited community of citizens able to speak out, donate, and lobby, and a small team of top notch advocates able to take smart, strategic actions at the highest level with democratic legitimacy, that makes our campaigns increasingly unstoppable.

If we keep believing in each other, and growing in size and in commitment, there's no limit to the good we can do in the world. Thank you so much for the honour and the joy to be part of and serve this community. It's something truly precious we have here -- let's keep building Avaaz.

With love and appreciation,

Ricken and the team

PS -- You might not know that Avaaz is different from just about every other global organization in that we are 100% funded and guided by our community. Every campaign we run is first polled and tested to a random sample (you might think of it as a jury) of our community, that tells us exactly how the whole the community will react. I may be the CEO, but you're my boss. If you don't like something (and I don't mean 51% like it, but 81% like it) then our team go back to the drawing board and come up with a better option for you. We have never, ever, broken this rule. So at the end of the day, it is your wisdom, the collective wisdom of our community, matched with the smartest suggestions the team hears from you and come up with ourselves and from our partners and experts, that determines what we do every single day.

When you add to that the fact that 100% of our funding comes from small online donations (we strictly refuse any donations from corporations, governments, foundations, and even individual donations over 5000 Euros), I think Avaaz may be one of the purest organisational expressions of people-powered change in the world today. Make that an organisation served by a beautiful team of wonderfully talented and deeply committed people that I wish I could introduce you all to, and we've got a kind of magic that can build the world we dream of.

PPS -- If you want to chip in to help keep it all going, click here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/october_reportback_a/?boBkhab&v=29778
Source: avaaz.org