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
Google Forms help gather content for upcoming projects or gauge reactions from
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 Ad
Grants. 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.