HOW IT STARTED
In 2017, a group of progressive thought leaders1 came together to explore what nonprofits needed to scale revenue generation and become more self-sustaining. This group included former Greenpeace USA CEO Phil Radford, a lifelong organizer who led Greenpeace’s growth into one of the largest (c)(4)s in the environmental movement by investing in its independent revenue generation. At the conclusion of this exploration2, Phil was asked by Rob Stein, founder of the Democracy Alliance, to start Progressive Multiplier and solve what the research established:
- Small and mid-sized groups often do not know how to start earning revenue beyond institutional philanthropy. They need basic revenue generation training and supporting infrastructure.
- Some mid-sized and most larger organizations surveyed are running revenue generation experiments but lack adequate funding to grow these efforts.
- Financing (i.e., loans) to scale successful revenue generation programs is practically non-existent. For large programs, this means millions in revenue is going unrealized.
- Few groups are maximizing ways to generate revenue across their (c)(3) and (c)(4) entities, and none surveyed possessed the tools to compliant fund (c)(4) revenue generation with (c)(3) investment.
- Revenue generation successes are not widely shared and adopted, leaving collective learning unharnessed for the progressive movement.
HOW IT'S GOING
Our first four years have been dedicated to growing the revenue generation capacity of individual movement groups and sharing with broader cohorts what has been learned through their projects. We’ve proven that model, it's going strong and is the core of our work. Now we are expanding the size and sophistication of our program to build movement capacity through four new initiatives:
- Starting the Transformative Growth Fund, raised for making recoverable grants and securing program-related investments to accelerate our ability to finance independent revenue generation growth for the movement
- Expanding the use of our unique (c)(4) & PAC Revenue Generation Funding Program which was piloted in 2021
- Establishing a for-profit subsidiary in our (c)(4) to be able to earn money to make grants to groups that apply directly to PM versus through a funder-sponsored cohort.
- Quantifying the impact of independent revenue generation on the movement's ability to scale climate and democracy-related advocacy and voter mobilization so that foundations, donors, and movement groups can specifically invest in generating the revenue needed to realize democracy and restore the environment.
1 The research was a collaboration among progressive thought leaders and a core group of funders interested in accelerating scalable revenue generation including representatives from the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, Solidago, Wellspring Advisors, Open Society Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and Amalgamated Bank.
2 Groups surveyed include MoveOn.org, Amnesty, Sierra Club, NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, League of Conservation Voters, Common Cause, PFAW, Faith In Action, Friends of the Earth, Color of Change, Center for Popular Democracy, IAF, SumOfUs, WFP, NDWA, CIW, Mia/FIRM, ParentsTogether, PushBlack, Main Street Alliance and the Roosevelt Institute.