Nossas is a women-led laboratory for civic engagement and activism, mobilizing a network of volunteers for social change across Brazil and Latin America. Using community organizing, digital tools, and existing tech platforms, Nossas is launching initiatives primarily in disenfranchised regions of the country. Nossas has activated over 2.6 million members to organize around critical social issues, like reproductive rights, government corruption, police violence, and more. Together, Nossas members work with local teams to create calls to action and put pressure on policy-makers. Nossas drives innovation in civic engagement by pairing new online tools with offline action. They launched a technology tool to help activists build impactful websites and have created chatbots and maps within social media networks like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that connect activists and drive strategic communications. Nossas and all of its projects are funded through national philanthropic donations, micro donations, and crowdfunding campaigns. They also rely on pro bono services, free of charge licenses, and goods.
At the height of the pandemic, Nossas launched three successful crowdfunding campaigns to meet the specific needs of vulnerable people in Brazil. They started by gathering resources for urban Indigenous communities, raising over $200,000 USD in less than one week through the support of over 10,000 micro-donors. With these funds, they were able to provide 1,200 Indigenous families with personal hygiene materials and basic food supplies for six months. Further, they launched a campaign to pay for internet data plans for low income students, raising $110,000 USD and guaranteeing internet access for over 4,600 students across Brazil. Finally, Nossas helped raise almost $75,000 USD for basic hygiene products to be distributed in favelas in Rio de Janeiro.
Theory of Change
Use of technology helps scale community organizing and build solidarity networks to address intractable problems, safeguard democracy and pressure decision-makers towards a more equitable society.
Nossas began in 2011 as Meu Rio, an activist network mobilizing people to actively participate in Rio de Janeiro’s decision-making processes. Still operating today, Meu Rio focuses on local issues, such as preventing the destruction of green spaces, improving the transparency of the public transport system, and supporting community college entrance exams in the city. Beyond Meu Rio, Nossas created a technology tool called “Bonde” especially for activists, helping them to create impactful websites to mobilize people around causes. Moreover, their project, “Mapa do Acolhimento,” uses Whatsapp to connect domestic violence victims with a network of over 4,500 volunteer psychologists and lawyers who are willing to support them free of charge. Nossas also developed Beta, a feminist chatbot, which works inside Facebook Messenger, engaging over 150,000 people in actions that safeguard women’s rights and updating engaged users whenever there is a threat to women’s rights in the country. Finally, Nossas provides a training on mobilizing and organizing, taking attendees through different methodologies and relevant technologies.
Nossas has registered 5,400 volunteers, launched over 200 campaigns, influenced changes in 120 public policies, and raised over $700,000 USD in crowdfunding campaigns by engaging 29,000 individual donors. Successful calls to action have led to the opening of new green spaces in poor neighborhoods, the creation of 24/7 women-only police stations, and the barring of the demolition of a public school in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup. They have also pushed forward concrete policy changes and bills through the Brazilian Congress, including a monthly aid payment to dependents of healthcare professionals who pass away from COVID-19, the implementation of an Emergency Basic Income Scheme in Brazil, and the postponement of college-entrance examinations during the pandemic.