Rick Patel have proven that online activism can have real-world results.

Rick Patel has created a vehicle for people to share their voice, concerns, ideas and use them to influence change, policy and even direction through the online activism organization Avaaz.

In an article in Reader’s Digest April’s edition (p.16-18) he says, “The Internet is a force multiplier. It can make any process faster and more efficient.” Understanding the impact of this tool, Patel utilizes it for cause and effect. Avaaz is the largest activism network, with members across 138 countries. It can mobilize public opinion on any international issue in any part of the the globe. Founded in 2007, it has worked to stop sex trafficking in Hilton Hotels & Resorts and defended Masai land rights in Tanzania. It has raised over $55 million – funding democracy in Zimbabwe and so much more.

The idea around this and one that Patel has perfected is called an engagement ladder. It is where small acts lead to bigger ones. According to Sidneyeve Matrix, a media professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Patel has made it easy to give and easy to get involved. I know that I have signed many petitions for great causes. It is one way that I can make a difference.

Patel comes to this work from his own experiences. As a child his older brother drilled political ideas into him from the time he was a toddler. By Grade 2 he was reading a history book a week. This led to a curiosity about the world that prompted him to decide at 28 to spend four years as a conflict analyst in war zones like Sierra Leone and Liberia. Non-profit think tanks sent him to meet cabinet ministers and warlords. Then from the conversations, he would draft proposals on how the international community could better serve the country.

He returned to New York in 2005 with new insight that led to the starting of Avaaz that today employs 100 people across 18 countries. Patel says, “What I witnessed were failures of collective action. Governments knew the right thing to do. They didn’t do it because citizens didn’t demand it.”

He ends the article with this comment, “I used to think saving the world was all about having passion. Motivating others is just as important, if not as sexy.”

I love this article. It is inspiring and motivating in its own right.

For those that want to make a difference and make money, there is lots of room for this. Find you passion and then motivate others to follow.

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