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Avaaz's Co-Founders Seek a Purpose-Driven Consumer Life

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, May 24 2010

Two of the minds behind the global advocacy platform Avaaz.org and Australia's social action network GetUp! are taking what they learned in the non-profit online organizing space and applying it to the world of consumerism. Jeremy Heimans and David Madden say that their new Purpose.com, launched last week:

...creates 21st century movements. We look for ways that movements can help solve major global problems. To do this, we work with some of the most exciting players in the new green and social economy to help them get to scale faster and some of the world's biggest brands to mobilize their consumers for significant social impact.

When I spoke to Heimans last week, he told me that the seed that became Purpose was planted by their past organizing efforts in trying to leverage the collective power of their bases to create social change. "It weighed on me more and more," said Heimans, "that we need to find ways to employ people's power as consumers to create social change and deploy them in the social space." Heimans says that he sees Purpose's purpose, in part, to incubate grassroots movements for issues that don't have an overarching messaging and organizational drive quite yet. One of their first targets for Heimans and Madden's New York-based team of more than a dozen is to try to create a consumer-driven movement around LGBT issues. "We're using behavioral economics to make our movements less shallow and more meaningful," said Heimans.