what happened after I signed the petition?

AvaazpixDear 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 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/?biEWLbb&v=29788

You Should Forward This …


The Top Nine Ways a Government Shutdown Affects Real Americans


1. 800,000 federal employees will go without pay — and it’s unclear if they’ll receive back pay for time missed.

2. 3.6 million veterans may not receive benefits if the shutdown lasts over two weeks.

3. The Centers for Disease Control will have to stop its flu prevention program, just as flu season begins.

4. Food safety inspections will scale back their work, exposing millions to risk.

5. About nine million moms and pregnant women will no longer receive nutritional assistance from the Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants, and Children program.

6. The Small Business Administration will be unable to process new loans, potentially slowing new small business growth.

7. National parks and museums will close across the country, damaging our travel and tourism industries by millions for each day the government remains shut down. (Yes, that means the Statue of Liberty is closed for business…)

8. Head Start programs across the country will start closing, ending educational and health benefits for low-income children.

9. Disability benefits could be interrupted, leaving vulnerable Americans without the support they rely on.

For more info, you can read the full article here:


Some House Republicans might be treating this showdown like a game — but its impacts are real for millions of Americans who are starting to feel the shutdown in their lives.

Help get the word out — forward this email, and share the impacts of a government shutdown with everyone who should know:

House Republicans could open The Government


House Republicans Could Open The Government Back Up Right Now

After just five days, the government shutdown is having a real, severe impact. Here are just a few of the many stories of how the shutdown is impacting Americans across the country:

And the list goes on.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Washington continue to offer political spin that nobody else is buying. The initial Republican strategy to defund Obamacare has fallen apart as people successfully enroll in the insurance marketplaces. Their latest, a piecemeal funding strategy, is in fact a reminder of the important role government plays in every American’s life — from nutrition aid and veteran benefits, to national emergency and disaster recovery. But the American people want the shutdown to end for the entiregovernment, and they blame the Republicans for causing it. Republicans aren’t even sure what they stand for anymore. This quote from conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) pretty much sums it up:

“We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

You don’t even know what that is? That’s leadership.

Increasingly, some House Republicans have come out in opposition to this attitude, and in support of a ‘clean’ government spending bill that would re-open the government. In fact, enough have now publicly supported such a bill that it would pass with majority Democratic support. Speaker John Boehner knows this — but is so scared of the extreme right-wing of his party that he won’t even allow it to come to a vote.

BOTTOM LINE: One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, has shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law. And there are now enough House Republican defectors from this strategy to open the government back up. If John Boehner just allowed the vote to happen, we could stop this unpopular, economically devastating shut down right now.

SCOTUS …. still at work


This week at the Court

By on Oct 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

Monday is the first day of the 2013 Term. We expect orders – primarily cert.  denials from the September 30 Conference – at 9:30 a.m.

The Justices will hear two oral arguments each day, Monday through Wednesday.

The hearing list for the October sitting is here.

On Friday the Justices will meet for their October 11 Conference.

Our list of “Petitions to watch” for that Conference will be available soon.

Argument preview: Campaign finance — again


By on Oct 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hold one hour of oral argument on the latest constitutional dispute over campaign finance — this time, the constitutionality of federal ceilings on donations to political candidates or parties.  In the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, arguing for Alabama Republican donor Shaun McCutcheon and the Republican National Committee will be Erin E. Murphy of the Washington law firm of Bancroft PLLC, with twenty minutes of time.  Arguing for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — in the case as an amicus — will be Bobby R. Burchfield of the Washington law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, with ten minutes.  Representing the FEC, with thirty minutes, will be U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.

It has been nearly four years since the Supreme Court set off a constitutional revolution in the financing of federal elections, in Citizens United v. FEC, and the controversy it stirred up still has not lost its fury.  The Court, however, is ready to consider extending that revolution by, perhaps, casting aside a constitutional formula it has used repeatedly in this field for more than four decades to curb campaign donations.

The formula, put simply, is that those who contribute money to candidates or political committees get less protection for their activity than those who spend money directly to try to influence election outcomes.   The Court is being asked to give donors the same full protection that spenders get under the First Amendment.  In short, the Justices have a chance to reexamine the core of the landmark 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.

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