Since 1992, WITNESS has been making it possible for anyone, anywhere to harness the power of video and technology to fight for human rights. By providing training, support, and tools to millions, they’re powering up a new generation of 21st century activists capable of changing the world. Together with their vast network of international partners, WITNESS has helped victims speak out against power and stand up to injustice.
WITNESS operates at the nexus of human rights and technology, helping millions of ordinary citizens around the world speak the truth to those in power through online video content. Internally, WITNESS also relies on technology “to increase the visibility and global impact of campaigns, and operate efficiently to maximize the impact and value of every donation,” says Marianna Moneymaker, online outreach and production at WITNESS.
Since its founding 20 years ago, WITNESS has partnered with more than 300 human rights groups in 80-plus countries, trained over 3,000 human rights defenders, developed widely used training materials and tools for video creation and safety, created the first dedicated online platform for human rights media (the HUB), and included video in over 100 campaigns. All of these tasks have presented their own unique challenges, from coordinating international communications, to creating the most optimal place for the HUB to live.
At WITNESS, the tools provided at no charge through Google for Nonprofits are powering a small yet scrappy staff of 30. For years, WITNESS has used G Suite to maintain an exceptional level of productivity. Some staff travel more than they are in the office, and they rely on Gmail and Calendar to stay updated and coordinated. Google Docs allows collaboration on everything from blog posts to media lists. And Forms on Google Docs help gather content for upcoming projects or gauge reactions from supporters.
Among other awareness initiatives, WITNESS has created a branded YouTube channel that has attracted millions of views and thousands of subscribers. They even created an extensive new channel on YouTube dedicated to Human Rights, with partner Storyful.
They've also brought attention to campaigns through search-engine marketing using Google AdWords. And they've gained insights into donors and tracked the website’s effectiveness using Google Analytics. People can visually pinpoint efforts such as justice for elders on www.elderjustice.org using Google Maps. Google+ and Hangouts help engage audiences with specific topics. A series of Hangouts are planned to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary.
“Google for Nonprofits has helped us distribute compelling content while also streamlining our day-to-day business operations, all at no charge.”
Matisse Bustos Hawkes, Associate Director, Communications and Engagement
For WITNESS, the benefits of Google for Nonprofits has been extended by its ability to build relationships with other Alphabet entities. Notes Matisse Bustos Hawkes, Associate Director, Communications and Engagement at WITNESS, “Our conversations with YouTube led to the creation of the Custom Blur Tool on the platform. The tool can be used by activists to blur elements in a video, including a person’s identity, while still sharing important stories of human rights abuse.”
WITNESS actively urges other tech companies to follow YouTube’s lead, as this type of functionality could literally help protect the lives of brave individuals who come forward to bear witness.
Special Olympics used G Suite to coordinate volunteers and AdGrants to engage viewers during the 2015 World Games.
KMVT uses Google Hangouts and YouTube to elevate community programs from local to global, engaging a larger audience.
The NRDC uses Google tools to communicate effectively, understand their data, and drive more traffic to their website.
G Suite helps Nuru be more effective and efficient in their day-to-day operations across 11 different time zones.