Launching in 2007, Avaaz is a civic organization with its base of operations in the United States. The group promotes activism on global issues such as conflict and poverty, animal rights, corruption, human rights and climate concerns. The group is considered one of the most influential online activist groups in the world. The word “avaaz” means “voice” or “song” and was chosen as the name of the group because many similar words exist in most world languages.
The group is committed to promoting good governance, deliberate democracy and civic virtue. The group was co-founded by Res Public and Move On. Individual co-founders include Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda and Ricken Patel. Other worldwide co-founders also include David Madden Andrea Woodhouse and Jerry Heimans. The individuals represent countries worldwide giving the group global exposure.
The founding president is Ricken Patel of Canadian British heritage. He studied at Oxford University, Balliol College and Harvard University and once worked for the International Crisis Group throughout the world. His skills include restoring public faith in once corrupt political systems, identifying when foreign forces are being manipulated and bringing rebel forces to the negotiating table. He also learned how to use a variety of online tools effectively for activism.
Since 2009, the group relies on the generosity of its individual members for financial support rather than corporations and foundations. Prior to that time, a variety of foundations provided funding for Avaaz’s start-up costs and staff. Global campaigns are managed by a team representing more than 30 countries. The group communicates mainly through email and campaigning tactics include email your leader tools, videos and online public petitions. They also rely on advertisements, as well as commissioning legal advice to clarify how to move a campaign forward. Some of the tactics used to move a campaign forward is to employ media friendly stunts, phone calls, rallies and sit-ins.
Campaign suggestions come from members and once those suggestions have been taken on, about 10,000 members are polled and if a sufficient positive response is received, the campaign move into action. The group typically supports causes considered progressive, but challenging to the world.