After raising a shocking amount of money for candidates in 2020 and then for the Georgia runoffs, the results were mixed. We were rewarded with the 2 wins in the Georgia runoffs, which gave us a tiny majority in the senate. Which turned out to be everything! Every penny we spent in Georgia paid off, and that felt great!
But, man we surely did throw a lot of money at races that felt good, at races that seemed to be possible wins – I mean who among us didn’t want to see the Turtle and Lindsay Graham out of the senate? But in hindsight, it seemed that not all of our money was well spent.
So we got to thinking about our approach to raising money going forward. We started with the new approach right away in 2021 – with the goal being to leverage the fundraising power of the Balloon Juice community as strategically as possible.
Strategic in terms of what kind of work we are funding. Strategic in terms of what populations we are serving. Strategic in terms of which states can have the most impact. Strategic in terms of impact on future elections, not just 2022.
Anyway, Spring has sprung, and we’ve been at this new approach for about a year now, so I want to take a minute to look at our Balloon Juice fundraising: where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Where We’ve Been
We started last spring with Four Directions and the Native vote. Then we forged a relationship with Voces de la Frontera to help give the Latino population in Wisconsin more of a voice. Then Four Directions again, because they had an opportunity to forge a relationship with Fair Fight, and they needed seed money to do it.
Then, with the Native vote being dear to our collective hearts, we looked at Four Directions with an eye toward the other states they considered key in 2022. And one after another we funded their early efforts in their other key states: Arizona and Wisconsin. Then we approached them to see if seed money from us could get them to get an early start in Michigan, so Balloon Juice got Four Directions boots on the ground in March 2021. I think it’s fair to say that Four Directions is active in Michigan because of us.
We got our next lead – on the next good group to support – from the work of our Join the Fight pilot test in Michigan. That was Promote the Vote 2022, which is helping to secure the future of fair voting in Michigan, a key state. In particular, we funded 5 fellowship positions specifically to serve and represent traditionally underserved and disenfranchised people.
After that we had the pop-up fundraising for Voces de la Frontera to help channel our fears /outrage at the appalling soon-to-be ruling from the Supreme Court. Going forward, the rights of self-determination for women can only be protected by a legislative majority of Democrats, so we have to take those fears and that outrage and get Democrats elected at every level of government.
Where We’re Going
So what’s next?
Our next fundraising effort, that we’re kicking off this Thursday, is for what we think is a really terrific group! Voting Access for All Coalition (VAAC) serves everyone, but for reasons that will become obvious, people of color make up most of the population that is most impacted by the VAAC effort.
Watch their introductory video and let us know if you are as excited about this group as we are! We have a Q & A post with them set up for this Thursday, 5/12, at 7:30 – I hope you will mark your calendars so you can come to the post with questions and get to know more about this inspiring group. Also mark your calendars for the Zoom Q & A the following Wednesday, 5/18, at 7:30.
There are about 300,000 people directly impacted, and they hope to inform, inspire and empower 100,000 of those folks to actually take action and vote. Think for a minute about what the margin of victory was in Michigan in 2020.
After that, it looks like we are going to head South. We have helped Georgia several times, but this time we are headed to North Carolina. No details to share with you at this point, but we want to let you know where we’re headed.
After that, our next effort we will be focused on the youth vote, as it’s becoming more and more obvious that we have a lot of work to do with young people who feel we are failing them on many fronts.
A Nod to Join the Fight
The Balloon Juice fundraising effort is (mostly) separate from the Join the Fight initiatives, though we are finding that there is a lot of synergy between the two efforts.
Join the Fight began as an effort to put our time as well as our money to good use, leveraging the power of the Balloon Juice community as strategically as possible. Part of our goal was to find like-minded groups whose efforts we might be able to support, and who might also be interested in supporting our efforts.
And it’s working! We are making connections with other organizations, just as we hoped it would. Madeleine was part of our Join the Fight pilot effort for Michigan, and she is the one who was connected with VAAC as part of connecting with Michigan organizations that had been identified in the pilot project.
We no longer have two functioning political parties, that much is clear. There is much that we can’t control, and some days that’s all we hear about.
BUT WE CAN MAKE ELECTIONS HARDER TO STEAL, and one of our jobs is to help make the margin of victory so large that the risks are too high for those who want to steal them.
So we’ve focused on voting and voting rights. To that effect, we’ve targeted disenfranchised communities that have the numerical possibility of swinging crucial swing states. More specifically, we have been supporting and funding direct boots-on-the-ground efforts in crucial swing states, though that will change for our efforts to inspire and mobilize the youth vote.
With your donations, you guys are helping to make all of this happen. And the Balloon Juice Angels? Oh my gosh, you are such a big part of helping to meet our goals, special thanks to you guys, as well.