The holiday season is typically a boon for nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups receiving flurries of gifts into the new year. In 2017, the Left is feeling especially festive.
Since the election of Donald Trump, individual donations to liberal think tanks, environmental nonprofits, and other advocacy groups have skyrocketed, laying the foundation for a sustained resistance to President-elect Trump's agenda over the next four years.
Within 24 hours of Trump's victory, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received more than $940,000 online from 14,000 people—an ACLU record for contributions in a single day. By Monday of the following week, the number had ballooned to $7.2 million from 120,000 donors.
Planned Parenthood raked in nearly 130,000 donations within those same five days—30 times the normal number for that span. (The pro-abortion group received over 50,000 individual gifts in Vice President-elect Mike Pence's name.)
Environmental groups were also winners. At the Sierra Club, 11,000 new monthly donors signed on within the first week of Election Day. That's more than nine times as many as the organization enrolled in December 2015—its previous best month. The Natural Resources Defense Council has also seen a substantial increase in giving.
The New York Times chronicled a similar uptick for left-wing investigative outfits:
At the Center for Public Integrity in Washington and its international investigative arm, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, individual donations are up about 70 percent compared to the same period last year. The donor pool for the Marshall Project, a two-year-old outfit that examines the American criminal justice system, is up 20 percent since the election.
And at ProPublica, the investigative news organization that pledges to hold the powerful accountable, the post-election haul, $750,000, has easily eclipsed the total raised from small-dollar donors in all of 2015, about $500,000.
Then there's the exodus of Obama aides post-Inauguration Day. These devoted liberals will soon be unemployed and in need of work, and many will apply their political bona fides to the world of advocacy—where they can (at least ideally) use their expertise and connections to affect real policy change.
As Ivan Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group, explains:
“[Most staffers] go on to work in one of two settings: Firms, like consulting and lobbying agencies, or organizations like trade associations, think tanks, and nonprofits.”
Recent history speaks for itself. Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary under Robert Gibbs, left the administration to launch the super PAC Priorities USA Action. He then landed a job at the Democratic consultancy Global Strategy Group and now works at SKDKnickerbocker, another Democratic consulting firm. (Gibbs started The Incite Agency, a liberal consultancy now owned by the Clinton digital shop Bully Pulpit Interactive.)
Perhaps the most well-known Obama-aide-turned-activist is Van Jones, the CNN pundit who founded an array of advocacy groups to stymie a host of Republican policy efforts. His projects include Color of Change—“the nation’s largest online racial justice organization”—and Rebuild the Dream, a left-wing think tank fighting for “economic justice” and “climate justice.”
Most recently, Jones founded Megaphone Strategies, the “social justice media strategy firm” used by Black Lives Matter.
Unfortunately, liberal mega-donors are also preparing for a four-year tussle. The Washington Post has more:
Activist David Brock, who leads American Bridge and a suite of related groups, is organizing donors to take part in a stepped-up offensive against the president-elect and other Republicans. The State Innovation Exchange, which serves as a strategy and training hub for Democrats in the states, is looking to expand its presence.
And Organizing for Action, the nonprofit advocacy group that grew out of President Obama’s 2012 campaign, recently sent a message to activists asking them “to double down.”
Organizing for Action already has $10 million in commitments from billionaires like Chicago investor J.B. Pritzker.
The Left lost a battle on Election Day, but it isn't surrendering. Supporters of free-market policies can't simply rely on the Trump agenda and congressional oversight. The endless conservative vs. liberal war of ideas rages on.