August 17, 2010
Online people power
At the heart of any representative democracy is a basic drive to have our views and interests reflected in the decision making process – be that local, national or international. But when relationships with those we elect turn sour, what options are we left with? The world’s largest online movement – Avaaz (meaning Voice) – has just achieved the remarkable feat of getting anti-corruption laws passed in Brazil. With 5.5 million members, Avaaz is fast becoming a global, people-powered phenomenon
Avaaz—meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—was launched in January 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens everywhere to help close the gap between the world we have and the world most people want.
In 3 years, Avaaz has grown to 5.5 million members from every country on earth, becoming the largest global web movement in history. Since 2007, Avaaz has:
• taken over 20 million actions online and offline, including messages sent, phone calls and petition signatures, and over 70 million friends told.
• raised over $10 million online, including millions in funding and high tech support for human rights and democracy advocates in Burma, Zimbabwe, Tibet, Iran, Haiti and more.
• organized almost 10,000 rallies, flashmobs, vigils, marches and other o nline events—giving a massive boost to the climate change movement.
• won YouTube’s Best Political Video of the Year Award, and the Huffington Post’s “Ultimate Gamechanger in Politics” award.
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Avaaz “has driven forward the idealism of the world.” Al Gore says “Avaaz is inspiring… it has already made a significant difference.” Zainab Bangura, the foreign minister of Sierra Leone, describes Avaaz as “an ally, and a rallying place, for disadvantaged people everywhere to help create real change.”
Avaaz is funded and driven by its membership.
A massive online campaign by the Avaaz community in Brazil has just won a stunning victory against corruption.
The “clean record” law was a bold proposal that banned any politician convicted of crimes like corruption and money laundering from running for office. With nearly 25% of the Congress under investigation for corruption, most said it would never pass. But after Avaaz launched the largest online campaign in Brazilian history, helping to build a petition of over 2 million signatures, 500,000 online actions, and tens of thousands of phone calls, we won!
Avaaz members fought corrupt congressmen daily as they tried every trick in the book to kill, delay, amend, and weaken the bill, and won the day every time. The bill passed Congress, and already over 330 candidates for office face disqualification!
One Brazilian member wrote to us when the law was passed, saying:
I have never been as proud of the Brazilian people as I am today! Congratulations to all that have signed. Today I feel like an actual citizen with political power. — Silvia
Our strategy in Brazil was simple: make a solution so popular and visible that it can’t be opposed, and be so vigilant that we can’t be ignored.
This victory shows what our community can do – at a national level, in developing nations, and on the awful problem of corruption. Anywhere in the world, we can build legislative proposals to clean up corruption in government, back them up with massive citizen support, and fight legislators who try to block them.
France’s Le Monde called our “impressive and unprecedented petition” campaign a “spectacular political and moral victory for civil society.” And while this victory may be a first, we can make it the precedent for global citizen action.
Amazingly, our entire Brazil campaign was made possible by just a couple of Avaaz team members, serving over 600,000 Avaaz members in Brazil. The power of the Avaaz model is that technology can enable a tiny team to help millions of people work together on the most pressing issues. It’s one of the most powerful ways a small donation can make a difference in the world.
5.6 million of us are reading this email — if a small fraction of us donate just $3 or $5 per week, or 50 cents per day, the entire Avaaz team will be funded and we can even expand our work on corruption and a range of issues. Click below to become a Sustainer of Avaaz and help take our anti-corruption campaigning global:
We’ve seen the heart-wrenching movies about street kids and desperate urban poverty in Brazil, and we know that across the world political corruption preys on our communities and saps human potential. In Brazil, our community has helped turn the tide and usher in a new era of transparent, accountable politics. Let’s seize the opportunity and begin to fight corruption everywhere it’s needed today.