the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

August 3, 2005

America Coming Together to Dissolve


Washington Post:

The dream was that ACT — heavily funded by billionaire George Soros — would play a decisive role in getting Democratic nominee John F. Kerry elected president and then remain in business as a permanent force in liberal politics.

Instead, the group this week began sending e-mails to most of the 28 people who make up the remaining ACT staff warning that their paychecks would stop at the end of August. All the state offices have been, or are soon to be, closed.

Alex, I’m going with What happens when progressive organizations suck at fundraising for $500.


  1. I think you’re being too hard on ACT. Their focus was getting out votes for the presidential election (something they did a tremendous job at), so it’s pretty obvious that their fundraising three years before the next election is going to be a tiny fraction of what it was in 2004, regardless of whether they “suck” or not. News flash: election-related organizations in the US have four-year cycles, with a smaller bump at the midterms. A slump in ice cream sales in midwinter doesn’t mean the marketers suck.

    Keith10:33 am

  2. Did you read the article? This isn’t about the election cycle, it’s about Soros pulling out.

    Why did Soros pull out? Presumably, he didn’t see ACT as a good investment. Would ACT be dissolving if they were better at fundraising? I would guess not.

    News flash: Raising money, marketing, are weaknesses of left-leaning organizations. If the left wants to have a voice, this is something that has to get fixed.

    —AltHippo • 10:52 am

  3. I did read the article, but I guess we’re interpreting it differently. And I didn’t mean to sound so obnoxious with the “news flash”, which was intended at least as much for the Washington Post, and perhaps the ACT staffers, as it was for you.

    According to the article, ACT is vastly downsizing (which is different from dissolving) and may or may not “ramp up” for the next election. I’m not surprised or disappointed that that’s happening, since in my view ACT served its purpose in 2004. It could have reinvented itself as something different, I suppose, but in an environment where there are lots of existing progressive organizations and the supply of funds is on the downswing that’s not very realistic. Maybe it’ll be back in 2008, and maybe it won’t. A lot probably depends on what the Republicans do to the laws regarding 427s.

    I don’t know why Soros pulled out. The article says he was disappointed by the outcome of the election. I know the feeling. I don’t know the man, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his goals for his money this year are different from those for last year. Despite what the right wing says, I don’t believe that he spends all his time and effort working to elect Democrats.

    The article doesn’t say that ACT did a bad job of fundraising. I don’t have anything to compare the $200 million to. That sounds like a lot to me, but maybe it does suck. It doesn’t say anything about amassing debts. As far as I know, they paid for all their get-out-the-vote drives in 2004, including hotel rooms, buses, and the occasional pizza for people like me. Yes, if they had truly amazing fundraisers who were able to get thousands of people to fund voter mobilization nine months after a presidential election they probably wouldn’t be shutting things down, but I don’t know where to find such miraculous fundraisers.

    I agree that the left needs to do a better job at raising money. Unfortunately, most rich people aren’t on our side, so our fundraisers — sucky though they may be — have to work much harder than the other side’s. It’s not fair, but it’s the way things are. I can understand frustration with that situation and how slowly it’s changing, but I don’t see the point of chortling over ACT’s downsizing — and that’s what your comment looked like to me. But I’m not an expert on ACT, just a volunteer. Maybe you think ACT was a negative force in 2004 rather than a positive one, or maybe I’m misinterpreting you.

    Keith10:49 pm

  4. Keith, no, absolutely, I wasn’t chortling at the demise of ACT at all. I find this painful.

    ACT didn’t take the reponsibility to raise sufficient funds to continue their work. We’ve all got to eat that, it affects us. It also serves as an example of what not to do.

    You probably got the same email that I did from about fundraising. That’s the idea. Being good fundraisers is actually part of our job as good progressives.

    Ah, but better to talk about this over a cold one at “The Timberlakes.”

    —AltHippo • 12:32 am, August 4

  5. I was an ACT volunteer and contributor last year. It seems to me
    that ACT did about as well as can be expected last year. I did
    not contribute this year because I found the direct mail pieces
    disappointing. Politics is a lot more important to me than
    responding to direct mail. I think that the top people at
    ACT should have been directly involved in writing fundraising
    letters. They should not have fallen into the traditional approach
    of sending out the typical pre-fabricated letters we all receive

    Here is more encouraging news in today’s Post:

    —Lee Diamond • 3:37 pm, August 7

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