The nonprofit Lobbyists 4 Good registered in August as a lobbyist “funded by the people, for the people.” The group aimed to raise money through crowdfunding to lobby for two issues: boosting the budget of the U.S. Institute for Peace and promoting campaign finance reform. It didn’t go so well. Some potential donors weren’t moved by the two causes that Lobbyists 4 Good was supporting, but others were turned off by the thought of hiring lobbyists at all. “There were a lot of pain points that we kept finding,” said Billy DeLancey, the group’s executive director. The group raised only $13,000 or so.
So Lobbyists 4 Good is trying a new model. The group terminated its lobbying registration last week, and it’s now running Kickstarter-style campaigns that allow members of the public to choose what issues they want to hire lobbyists for. “Anyone can submit a campaign, and it gets vetted through our founding principles,” DeLancey said, ensuring that people don’t create campaigns to benefit their own companies or themselves. Once donors have pledged $31,000 to a particular campaign, Lobbyists 4 Good will hire a lobbyists to work on the issue for six months. But the group has a long way to go before it can hire its first lobbyist. The campaign that’s furthest along, to lobby against United Nations funding cuts, had raised just $564 as of Monday afternoon.
Readers of Think Tank Watch may remember that the White House budget proposal earlier in the year called for deep funding cuts for the US Institute for Peace (USIP) and the Wilson Center.