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Foundation Cash Funds Antiwar Movement By: Julia Duin
Washington Times | Thursday, April 03, 2003


The American antiwar movement is decked out with all the elements of the counterculture, but it is getting some very establishment funding. 

In a few months, foundations and donors have kicked in millions of dollars to help antiwar groups stage demonstrations, take out expensive newspaper and TV ads, maintain Web sites, hire and pay staff, and lease office space in high-rent New York, Washington and San Francisco locales. 

Most work under the umbrella of sympathetic "fiscal sponsors," groups with tax-exempt status that have also lent out staff and office space. For instance, Code Pink Women for Peace, a feminist movement known for its pink clothing and awarding of "pink slips," or pink lingerie, to legislators they deem pro-war, operates under the aegis of Global Exchange, a San Francisco organization with a $4.2 million budget. 

Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, a director for Global Exchange, says they are paying a bargain $400 a month for a cubicle office at 15th and H streets in the District. More space for Code Pink is on loan from two organizations down the hall, the National Organization for Women and the Institute for Policy Studies

Code Pink has raised $70,000 to $80,000 in its four-month existence, mostly through its www.codepinkalert.org site and sales of Code Pink buttons and T-shirts, "which we can't keep in stock," she adds. 

The Institute for Policy Studies, a left-wing think tank, has released a drumbeat of antiwar essays in recent months. The institute has a $2.2 million budget for 2003 provided by the Turner, Ford, MacArthur and Charles Stewart Mott foundations, among others. 

The brunt of the peace funding, says institute director John Cavannagh, is being done by smaller foundations able to quickly shift funds from other programs. 

"Individual peace groups have all gone out and raised funds," he says. "It's a lot of money, but I don't know how much. There's a pooling of resources between peace groups I've not seen before, which explains the large numbers of demonstrations and peace marches created." 

For instance, the institute's 2002 foreign policy budget of $400,000, which includes antiwar activism, received $50,000 from the HKH Foundation, $50,000 from the Arca Foundation, $20,000 from the Samuel Rubin Foundation, $15,000 from the Solidago Foundation and $50,000 from the MacArthur Foundation. 

Gordon Clark, the sole staff member and national coordinator of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance Network in Silver Spring, has run his organization during the past six months on $32,000 in grants from donors and institutions. 

"I think this war has a greater air of illegitimacy around it than other wars," he said, "so there have been greatly increased contributions." 

Not all antiwar groups are forthcoming about their finances. One of the leading organizers of antiwar demonstrations, International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) refused to divulge its funding sources

But TrueMajority.com, an Internet activism group founded during the summer by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, boasts of its fund-raising prowess. TrueMajority.com says it is bringing in substantial amounts of money thanks to high-profile newspaper ads. These started in November, when 150 members of its related nonprofit corporation, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities Inc., ran a $40,000 antiwar ad in the New York Times

That brought in $80,000, partly because "we had the foresight to include a coupon," executive director Gary Ferdman says. That revenue helped pay for a $170,000 ad in the Jan. 13 Wall Street Journal national edition and later a $40,000 ad in the Journal's New York metro edition. Thanks to the Turner Foundation and the San Francisco-based Plowshares Fund, TrueMajority.com says, its $1.5 million operating budget helps pay for five full-time staff and six consultants. 

"People have been so concerned about the war and outraged enough to express their dissent," through contributions, Mr. Ferdman says. "Our problem is the more successful we are, the more expensive this becomes." 

TrueMajority.com webmaster Andrew Greenblatt, who has free office space at the National Council of Churches headquarters in uptown Manhattan, says the site brings in several thousand dollars a month. 

"It is not rocket science," he says. "You ask for money, and people give it to you." 

Because U.S. tax laws allow at least a year's grace period before a nonprofit must file a 990 tax form revealing who its donors are, most antiwar groups will not have to reveal their funding sources until 2004. 

The San Francisco-based Tides Foundation has given $1.5 million to antiwar efforts since September 11, 2001, including a salary for former U.S. Rep. Tom Andrews of Maine, who directs the 38-member Win Without War coalition. 

Win Without War, which announced its formation at a press conference Dec. 11, has drummed up $1 million in support, founder David Cortright says. Mr. Cortright is also president of the Fourth Freedom Foundation in Goshen, Ind., which has provided substantial antiwar support. 

Moveon.org, a Web site that raised $3.5 million for liberal political candidates in the 2002 election, has also raised $1.3 million for large newspaper ads against the war, says Eli Pariser, its international campaigns director. Its legendary fund raising from its 2 million members includes $400,000 raised in 48 hours to fund a Jan. 16 antiwar TV spot that accused President Bush of risking nuclear war. The ad, styled after the notorious Democrat "Daisy" commercial of 1964, shows a girl plucking petals from a daisy, along with a missile launch countdown and a nuclear mushroom cloud. 

Moveon.org's operating budget, he adds, is $300,000 a year for four staff and consultants. On average, donors give $35, Mr. Pariser says. But the donor volume has been so high that "we've turned off our log-in [mechanism] because it was blowing out our servers. We must be the only organization in history to have a ratio of one staff member to a half-million members." 

As for the type of donor, "These are mainstream folks who have not been active before, but because of the scariness of Bush's policy, they need to do something about it," he says. "The urgency level is so high that if money is what it takes to make a difference, they will make a contribution." 

United for Peace and Justice (UPJ), an antiwar coalition of 200 groups formed Oct. 25, farms out its staff to other nonprofits, such as Peace Action and Democracy Rising. Its finance committee chairman, Van Goss, is the organizing director of Peace Action and a professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. As of March 1, he said, they had raised "several hundred thousand dollars" with the help of several foundations that kicked in $5,000 and $10,000 donations to fund a large antiwar rally in New York on Feb. 15. 

UPJ raised less than $30,000 from the demonstrators themselves. 

"By breaking us up and penning us in little holding pens over 50 city blocks, that directly interfered with the key component of any large rally: the fund-raising pitch," Mr. Goss says. "What we got was a minute figure from what we could have raised from that crowd. 

But UPJ recouped some of its losses by raising $65,000 at a rally March 22. 

"People," Mr. Goss says, "are very willing to give."




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