Organizing for Action raised slightly more than $4.8 million during its first quarter in existence. That's a modest number, given that the social welfare nonprofit formed to support the president's second-term legislative agenda has its base in the Obama re-election campaign's impressive infrastructure.
The fundraising haul was announced in an email to supporters, the Hill reports. In it, the nonprofit reports 109,582 donors, with an average donation of $44. Unsurprisingly, the group was upbeat about the news. Executive Director Jon Carson wrote: "To anyone who thought we couldn't do this, these numbers send a pretty clear message. It's never been done before, but supporters like you are doing it." And then he asked for money:
“People — especially the special interests on the other side — are taking notice of what this grassroots-funded organization is up to. We’re digging in, we’re speaking out, and we’re amplifying the voices of ordinary Americans on some of the biggest issues of our time. ... Don’t miss your chance to be part of this movement: We’re off to a running start, and we’re not turning back.”
The transparency and fundraising practices of the group have been scrutinized since its formation in mid-January, given that its designation as a 501(c)4 nonprofit (the same designation used by many super PACs) means it's exempt from campaign contribution limits and donor disclosure rules. After a New York Times piece described the perks promised to the organization's biggest donors — $500,000 for quarterly access to Obama and $50,000 to attend a "founders' summit" — OFA has tried to pull back and rebrand as a grassroots campaign. In March, for instance, the group announced it wouldn't accept corporate donations in an Op-Ed by Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager. Messina defended OFA against accusations that it was, essentially, a post-campaign super PAC:
"There has been some confusion about what Organizing for Action is and is not. Organizing for Action is an issue advocacy group, not an electoral one. We'll mobilize to support the president's agenda, but we won't do so on behalf of political candidates."
As promised in that Op-Ed, the organization has said it will disclose later on Friday the names of all donors who gave $250 or more.