Who is Funding this Politically Centrist Project?

Note: as of this writing (October of 2017), nobody is funding this new centrist project, as we aren’t yet taking donations. The cost to run this as we build the website is relatively minimal (a few hundred bucks a month – most of the ‘cost’ is really just time donated by volunteers), which I am paying out of pocket. The information below are our fundraising rules going forward, that will apply once we begin accepting donations.

Solomon Kleinsmith, founder / editor

 

Overview of Funding Rules for this New Centrist Project

Here are a few quick bullet points that will answer most questions we receive about this:

  1. Our nonprofit centrist political action arm will be organized as a ‘527 group’, which is legally required to reveal donor and spending information. We believe that this donor transparency should be legally required, so we put our money where our mouths are by choosing a legal structure that forces us to put our money where our mouths are – instead of organizing a dark money group like (among a great many others) the organization Bernie Sanders hypocritically formed weeks after dropping out of the presidential race where he railed against dark money for months, the hard-right Club for Growth, or even The Centrist Project (much to our disappointment).
    • Unlike so many other organizations and politicians that pretend to be against corruption, but take dark, corrupt money when given the opportunity, we actually put our money where our mouths are on the issue of money in politics.
    • We also strongly believe that only individuals should be able to give money to candidates running for office, so none of your donations (to any project under the Uniters umbrella) will ever donate money to a political campaign (or any organization that doesn’t reveal it’s donor information).
  2. If we receive an anonymous donation of $250 or more, we will donate it to one of several amazing organizations fighting against dark money – fighting dark money with dark money seems to us to be the most appropriate use of such illicit funds. This includes any funds sent to either the business/website arm, or the nonprofit arm – no exceptions. We’ll try to come up with interesting ways to use smaller anonymous donations to highlight how wrong anonymous funding of political endeavors is.
  3. Regardless of whether we are required to do so or not, any monetary transaction of over $250 will be published on our website, for all to see, as well as an overview of our spending. To be clear – this applies to our business / website as well, even though there is no law requiring it. We will accept money from organizations, businesses and individuals in exchange for advertising, but the minimum purchase will be $250 – and yes, that is the same number as the number from the bullet point just above this one, ensuring that you all know who is paying for advertising on our centrist community website.
    • To be clear – all advertising will be ‘native advertising’, meaning it will be administered in-house, and none will be tracker ads administered by invasive advertising networks. All ads will merely be a standard image with a link, and the only information advertisers will learn about you from those ads will be the raw number of how many people saw and clicked on it, and any information their website collects if you spend time on their website.
    • To be even more clear – all that we collect from you is information you choose to share with us when you create your account, and general traffic data that doesn’t tie back to you individually that is collected by a single analytics provider that gives us aggregated information on traffic numbers, what areas of the site are popular, what parts of the world visitors come from and things like that.
  4. We will never borrow money, or sell shares, in the business side of this centrist project. Some have suggested to us that we aim at being the centrist version of the Huffington Post, and seek out investors so we can grow very quickly. We don’t do this because our goal is to represent centrists and moderates, not the interests (financial or ideological) of a small group of funders. Being beholden to monthly donor / members for funding puts our priority in the right place – representing centrists and moderates.
    • If we make decisions you think are wrong, members are encouraged to air those concerns with me personally (click here for my profile: Solomon Kleinsmith – where any member can send me a public or private message) and if we decide to go a different direction than you would like, the blame falls squarely on my shoulders in the vast majority of cases – directly or indirectly.
  5. The blog, information and community website arm – that you’re looking at right now – is legally organized as a business (we wouldn’t have been about to do things like overtly endorse politicians if we had gone the nonprofit route), but we will publicly post our membership donation information through PayPal, and will be pursuing ‘B Corp’ status, which will involve – among other things regarding positive business governance – transparency on funding and spending.
  6. We encourage all interested in donating to do so through PayPal – having all of our donor information in one place helps us so we don’t have to spend very much donor money on accounting, and it makes it much easier to have all of the information in one place.

 

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A Community Funded Centrist Project

While we’ll certainly not turn down money without strings attached from non-corrupt organizations (dark money groups, for instance – even centrist dark money groups), businesses or individuals that find us and merely wish to fund what we publicly say we aim to accomplish on the front end of this website, the focus of our fundraising will be toward members – specifically monthly members.

One of the best ways we can think of to try and keep our focus in the right place, both now and in the long run, is to make sure that the source of our funding doesn’t rely on a small number of large donors.

To succeed in having a large impact on our political landscape, there’s no way around the need for resources to grow. Transparency is one of the best ways of ensuring that organizations don’t take money from people with known axes to grind, but another important way of doing this is by being consistent with what you say you’re going to do (no secret, back room deals) and having a large number of small to medium-sized donors that fund you on a monthly basis.

The monthly donation part is more important than you might think. Not only does it give an organization a more steady budget, and take less resources from the work people are giving money to support to raise money, but it also has been shown to result in people being more engaged, as they’ll naturally want to see how their investment is paying off.

Being more engaged means members are more likely to see what we do, watch as we expand our projects and grow our audience – with the help of their donation – and give feedback to make sure we stay on course with what we said we’d do. This undercuts any effort by a deep-pocketed donor, or donors, to come along and try and convince us to change course in some way in exchange for a large amount of money.

If you have any questions about our fundraising policies, members can contact me at my profile, and anyone can contact us through the contact page.

Thanks for your support,

Solomon Kleinsmith
Founder / Editor
Uniters.org

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