Looking closer at the Avaaz website, we can see how many similarities there are between the electoral campaigning websites and theirs. Tools for engagement, volunteering, supporting, donating and so on are featured on the main webpage. Frequent communication emails are sent to all members to include them in all processes undertaken by the Avaaz team to influence policies or call for the stop of human rights breaches.
After signing a global petition on Avaaz to support the Palestinian bid for UN General Assembly recognition, I received yesterday an email from the Avaaz team highlighting the success of 'our' (members across the world) efforts. Below is an excerpt of that email showing how offline and online efforts led to significant success:
"Europe was the key swing vote, and under intense US pressure, leaders were, just two weeks ago, leaning towards not supporting the Palestinian state. Knowing the stakes, our community responded with the speed and democratic force that we needed to win:
- Nearly 1.8 million of us signed the petition calling for statehood.
- Thousands of us donated to fund public opinion polls across Europe -- showing that a whopping 79% of Europeans supported a Palestinian state. Our polls were plastered all over the media, and repeatedly cited in Parliamentary debates in the UK, Spain and France!
- We sent tens of thousands of emails, Facebook messages and Tweets to leaders across Europe and made thousands of calls to foreign ministries and heads of state.
- We unfurled a giant 4-storey banner outside the EU Commission in Brussels while leaders were meeting inside. Then, we staged another stunt in Madrid. Previously, we had sailed a flotilla of ships past the UN calling for a vote. Our actions made headlines all over Europe.
- Avaaz staff and members met with dozens and dozens of government ministers, top advisors, senior journalists, parliamentarians and thought leaders in each of the key countries, always drawing on the surge in people power behind this cause.
Finally, there are many lessons learnt from the electoral campaigns we followed closely this semester. One of which, advocacy efforts can capitalize on the different tools social media offers in ways similar to political campaigning - at the end of the day, both forms of campaigning seek mass support for ideas and causes that aim to change reality. Both communicate to the average citizen/voter and call for action to be taken.