political nonprofits

Looking to get involved post-election? Donate to small organizations; volunteer with larger ones.

I work for a very large environmental organization that you have almost certainly heard of - I previously worked in a very small organization. Post-election, I’ve seen a ton of people, many with very little experience in political work, eager to contribute to causes they care about. 

In conversations with less politically active friends, and with my friends who work at other environmental organizations from small to large, I’ve come up with this maxim for new people when lots of them are getting involved in the wake of a tumultuous event: donate to small organizations, volunteer with large ones

The reason for this is simple. 

  • Small organizations tend to be very under-resourced, as far as money goes. They spend a lot of their time trying to fund salaries and programs. Give them money if you want to see their capacity grow.
  • Small organizations tend to find dealing with large groups of new volunteers difficult. They aren’t used to scaling up quickly, and new volunteers need to be trained, they need to be connected with work, and they need to be supervised - the staff capacity for doing this tends to be low. This is especially the case if there’s a bunch of new white volunteers who want to support a people of color-led organization
  • Large organizations tend to not be as cash-strapped, but have the kind of scope that allows them to resource and plug in new volunteers easily. 

This is not universally true, of course (Planned Parenthood can always use your money!!), and this makes no claims about the ideological bent of whatever organization you’re looking at – it’s just about the ability of organizations at different sizes to handle huge influxes of resources, whether volunteers or money. Some small organizations may be so under-the-radar that they don’t see a huge influx of new volunteers and could use help — but here in NYC, for example, I’ve been asked to help a grassroots EJ partner group train their new white volunteers because they don’t have the staff time or energy to do so. 

If there is a small organization whose mission you align more with, but they seem like they can’t handle a huge new volunteer pool (and they are getting that pool), consider contributing some of your time there and also volunteering in another, larger allied organization until you get more experience. Many of the skills you will learn volunteering with Large Corporate NGO are transferable to Small Radical Grassroots Organization, and will help the latter figure out what to do with you. 

Stay accountable to your people. Don’t do what feels wrong. Do your research on the organizations you want to support. But think, too, about where you can be most effective for now - and remember that it’s a process of building you up as well as building our movement


In honor of Trump’s 100th Day, I am donating the $300 raised through my Etsy to a charity that provides rescue aid to refugees. The money was largely raised through bumper stickers ridiculing Rep. Darrell Issa of California’s 49th District and Dana Rohrabacher of the 48th District. I will be donating the money in honor of them and Trump. Their hostility to basic values of decency and compassion have energized a constituency fired up to remove them from office. Even though $300 is a paltry amount given the desperate need for humanitarian aid, it’s probably more good than anything Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have done in 100 days. 

Donating to nonprofits is more important now than ever before due to the Trump administration cutting funding to programs that save and transform lives. However, nonprofits cannot and should not take the place of government that has a duty to build a foundation where justice and equality can flourish. 

strandedstmarkscitylights  asked:

Just saw your response to the PP donation question...I am considering donating in the name of my conservative relatives but don't want my name to get back to them. Does a certificate of donation say who donated in the recipient's name?

Heya! It depends on the organization, honestly, and how their donation form is set up. I know with the org I worked for, the donor could say that it was an anonymous gift. You can always contact the org in question and ask how they handle honorarium gifts. They get that question a lot. Might even be on their website!

As an added bonus, some organizations (mine did) will additionally include all honorarium gifts in a newsletter at the end of the quarter or year, so your conservative loved ones will have their name attached to the org in print possibly. ;)


Earlier this week, the Republican party was discovered to have used Twitter to inform its fundraising groups of polling numbers during elections, potentially infringing on a rule that bars US political parties from “coordinating” with outside elements. But it appears that the GOP wasn’t alone in using Twitter to skirt regulations — according to The Huffington Post, the Democrats also used the micro-blogging service during 2012 elections to provide information on party ad campaigns to groups who weren’t technically allowed to receive the data directly.

The information appeared on the @AdBuyDetails Twitter account, with tweets mentioning a range of data, including the candidate for which the ads were purchased, the target age group it was aimed at, and the amount it cost. The information could have been used by nonprofits, political action groups, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm, all of whom are not allowed to see private ad data collected by the party’s various bodies. But while the anti-coordination rules mean candidates and their supporting staff can’t collaborate with outside groups on their ads, strategy, or messages, there’s an exception if the information used by such groups is obtained from “a publicly available source.”

The information tweeted by the @AdBuyDetails account appears cryptic, but unlike the Republicans’ polling data profiles, it can be deciphered by checking it against the account’s Twitter biography, which explains what each of the terms included in the tweets corresponds to. Both parties skirted the rules by making campaign information public, rather than passing it directly to groups disallowed from receiving it, but by including the decoder needed to understand the information, the Democrats may be able to claim that they followed regulations more closely than the Republicans.

Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer for the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Finance Center, told The Huffington Post that @AdBuyDetails bio decoder was “critical” to be able to understand the tweets, and said that the party’s lawyers could argue that “all of the information was made available on the Twitter feed.” That would mean the Democrats’ could say the account truly public, where some behind-the-scenes communication may have taken place between the Republicans and outside groups in order to disseminate the cipher necessary to parse the tweets. Nevertheless, Ryan says “both instances are worth investigation,” as the Democrats’ public decoder “doesn’t mean conversations didn’t occur” between the party and outside groups.