Groundswell Action Fund’s 501(c)(4) Blueprint
There are many funders who have our back to win the next campaign or election. Groundswell Action Fund is a funder who has our back on the path to liberation.JESSICA BYRD Movement For Black Lives Electoral Justice Project
WE WILL MOVE $20M TO 501(c)(4) ELECTORAL ORGANIZING FROM 2020-2025
In order to achieve a fair and just society, those who are most excluded from our democracy must be at the center of transforming it. Groundswell believes that the people living at the sharpest crosshairs of race, class, and gender injustice often have the clearest insight into systemic oppression and the best solutions for dismantling it for all people.
Women of color (WOC) generally, and Black women, in particular, are the highest turnout, most progressive voters in the country, and among the most civically engaged in their communities year-round. The boldness, and the moral and strategic clarity that WOC, Transgender, and Gender-Nonconforming (TGNC) people of color demonstrate in advancing progressive social change – from the ballot box to the policy arena to street protest – is unmatched by any other demographic in the United States. And yet, they are almost completely shut out of the multi-billion-dollar field of “progressive” electoral 501(c)(4) funding.
We and our grantee partners understand the importance of winning individual elections or policy fights, we also know that the long-term prize is durable grass-rooted organizing and voter engagement infrastructure that energizes a truly inclusive, participatory democracy.
While historic outcomes, like the margin of victory in the recent Presidential election, were hard-won through the remarkable leadership of WOC in spite of scarce resources, the shut-out has also been responsible for countless electoral defeats and for slowing progress toward a truly participatory, reflective democracy.
At this critical time for our country and the planet, we can no longer afford these losses. Resourcing this leadership in the electoral arena is not an addendum to winning – it is a requirement, and 501(c)(4) organizations are key. Groundswell Action Fund is dedicated to doing just that.
The Three Key Aspects
Groundswell Action Fund will provide unrestricted general support grants that allow organizations to build their infrastructure and avoid the harm caused by boom-and-bust electoral funding that only shows up to elect certain candidates during a key election year.
We will also provide short-term rapid response funding in moments of extreme challenge or unexpected opportunity, for example, during final push moments of a campaign when extra canvassers or one more radio spot may make the difference.
The health of organizations that are doing year-round electoral organizing is critical to the health of the United States’ democracy. Boom-and-bust funding that only shows up to elect certain candidates during key election years stresses and cracks organizational staff and infrastructure.
We plan to stand in the gap for organizations, providing them robust infrastructure support in:
a) Data, Digital, and Tech Infrastructure
b) Media Amplification
c) Political Education
d) Legal Compliance
e) Electoral Plan and Strategy Development
f) Lifting Women of Color, Transgender, and Gender Non-Conforming Leadership
Funder organizing is a hallmark of Groundswell’s work. Our 501(c)(3), Groundswell Fund, turned a $300K annual seed gift from two donors into $15M in giving annually from hundreds of donors and dozens of private foundations.
We have helped inspire millions more in giving directly from donors and foundations to many of the groups we support.
Our central goal is to increase resources to intersectional organizing led by women of color and Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people of color, regardless of whether those resources come to us or go directly into the field. Groundswell Action Fund has the same goal for the 501(c)(4) field.
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1) Provide $5 million in direct capacity-building support to the field.
2) Grantee partners will engage approximately 2.5 million New American Majority voters during major election years.
3) 100% of grantee partners will win significant policy changes that improve the material conditions of their communities.
4) Ten reproductive justice organizations will establish 501(c)(4) operations comprising year-round base-building and electoral campaigns.
5) Fifteen WOC grantee leaders will develop advanced data and analytics expertise that will result in improved voter data quality, enabling organizations to better track, target, and engage with communities of color.
6) Twenty-five organizational leaders will be featured in national news media outlets to change the narrative on electoral organizing.
7) Thirty organizations will have an advanced legal understanding of 501(c)(4) strategies to innovate in the field boldly and safely. Organizational leaders will understand the opportunities and limitations of running a 501(c)(4), ensuring they operate within the law and take full advantage of the opportunities possible within the 501(c)(4) structure.
8) Increase GAF’s annual budget from $1.5 million to $5 million, moving at least 80% of revenue back out to the field.
9) Achieve a funding ratio of 80% from individual donors and 20% from institutional funders to maintain maximum giving flexibility to support bold progressive change.
10) Play a key role in galvanizing increased giving to WOC-led 501(c)(4) work within at least three donor networks.
11) Publish at least 50 op-eds or blog posts highlighting GAF grantee partners.
12) In five metro, regions, and/or states, build donor communities that see GAF as a home for their electoral giving and engage through local gatherings featuring political education and an opportunity to meet key local grantee partners.
We are all more free when women of color and TGNC communities of color are free
This 2020-2025 Blueprint offers a pathway for Groundswell to stay the course in our existing successful strategic direction and to innovate in ways that respond to our learning and to the unique needs of this historic moment.
Thank you for believing in us, investing in us, and partnering with us.