Online Causes – how effective are they?

I have often wondered how effective email campaigns and petitions for worthy causes are. As a card carrying member of several, it is not unusual for me to receive half a dozen pleas on any particular day urging support for a pressing  purpose.

Today, at the urging of AVAAZ, I made a submission to the Australian Government’s Convergence Review, stating my views in support of limits on media ownership.
I also, at the behest of GetUp, donated to an advertising campaign in continued support of effective poker reform legislation.

The funny thing with both of these is my feeling of déja vu – we’ve been down this road before, yet here we are again. Some have observed that popular ground swells in relation to certain government initiatives are noted by legislators to the extent that they will act with some sort of appeasement. When the furore has died down, they will quietly enact the legislation anyway.

It is feared that this may be occurring currently with the SOPA and PIPA legislation before the US Congress and Senate, the effect of which would seriously curtail the flow of information on the internet.  The growing crescendo of opposing voices from constituents is causing some backpedalling and “shelving” of the legislation. It is already evident that the papers will remain on the shelf  only until next month, when it is rescheduled for debate. By then, no doubt the legislators and their sponsors hope, the furore will have died down and everyone will have returned to the acidie of unawareness.

So there is no doubt that popular email campaigns for social and political change are effective – they have provoked counter strategies to neutralise the people power they represent.
Such campaigns rely however, not just on the easy stroke of a key to support a cause, but continuing alert to what happens beyond the initial drive and a monitoring of how promises in response to such campaigns are expedited.


Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

6 thoughts on “Online Causes – how effective are they?

  1. While I agree that we need to be informed about different issues I get extremely annoyed at the amount of ‘begging’ letters I receive from causes I already regularly support. Not only do I get the physical letters I get an email version as well. Surely these organisations could get their act together and filter regular supporters or at least give them an option whether or not to receive the print version. How much of more of our donations could they then spend on the worthy causes?


  2. Ah yes, these are another matter. Even more annoying, I find are the donation soliciting phone calls, particularly as my line is not eligible for the “do not call” register. A strategy for all is to have a donation budget set and to not vary from it. Then at least I can delete and bin with out waking Jiminy Cricket. The phone calls, however – well, I just keep repeating my spiel. 🙂


  3. Yep, that is a poignant and dramatic example of the power of on-line mobilisation. How satisfying to see the smug cynicism of TV moguls taken down a peg or two – and to see justice pursued. We’ve seen a similar dynamic recently in the Arab Spring people movement, demonstrating huge shifts in power bases. The beauty of it is the lack of hierarchical structure which limits the capacity of the traditional power wielders to cut off the head. The previous perceived powerless are finding they have a voice.


  4. And today’s media reports bring news of the successful campaigns against the ill-considered anti-piracy laws in the US. But the fat lady hasn’t sung yet… so yes, we must stay on our mettle!


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