Grass-roots efforts have existed for hundreds of years, although the phrase grass-roots movement is fairly new. Avaaz is not quite a grass-roots movement, but it uses many of the same ideas. It believes in providing funding from its members, although it does have ties to Res Publica and MoveOn.org. MoveOn.org is, in part, funded by billionaire George Soros.
The current model calls for the funding of the organization to raise the funds it needs to operate through member donations. The group achieves this by not focusing on one cause, but rather on a range of causes that are normally considered to be progressive. From the organization’s website, a user can donate, start a petition, and find out information about a variety of causes.
Avaaz’s organizational model could be compared to a coop. The coop was started as a business model in the late 19th century. Farmers started banding together to buy cheaper equipment and sell their goods at better prices. The Grangers, a well-known agricultural coop, formed to enable family farmers to compete with organizations like Sears and Roebuck. Avaaz does not believe that single-issue organizations are a good way to move forward in the era of online activism. Instead, it wants to bring people together and enable them to support other causes in which a person might believe. Currently, the organization is working to prevent climate change, Amazon rain forest deforestation, and the preservation of many endangered species around the globe. Avaaz takes its name from a Persian word meaning “song” or “voice.”