WHAT IS AIRLIFT?

Airlift answers the question: “What’s the smartest thing I can do with the money I want to donate?”

Airlift is an online donation platform developed by a progressive team of politically passionate volunteers. It delivers donor dollars directly to a highly-vetted group of grassroots organizations strategically located in states key to winning back the Presidency and flipping the Senate. The selected groups work within their local communities to incentivize infrequent and non-voters (mostly young people and people of color) to show up at the polls by engaging them on issues that matter to them in their daily lives. Investing in the groups’ critical year-round work provides the highest rate of return on the investment of donor dollars. 

We want to make donating easy and strategic for anyone who (1) believes in expanding the electorate and evangelizing progressive policies and (2) wants to donate politically but are overwhelmed by the choices.


WHO IS AIRLIFT?

All volunteer, no overhead, plenty of passion.

Airlift is an all-volunteer team of people dedicated to and passionate about supporting progressive grassroots groups that engage young people and people of color in the political process. The professional experience of some of our team members include: a branding specialist, a university professor, a digital marketer, a psychologist, a former medical researcher, a teacher and a technology executive. Our career experience is varied, but our commitment to funding the critical work of community-based power building is a common goal. As a zero-overhead organization, every donor dollar goes directly to the grassroots groups who work year-round on extensive voter registration, mobilization, and GOTV—work that is crucial if progressives are to win big in 2020.


WHAT IS AIRLIFT’S ORIGIN STORY?

Created for grassroots, by grassroots.

Airlift was conceived by Danny Altman, one of the original founders of Mill Valley Community Action Network (a Northern California-based political action group that formed shortly after the 2016 Presidential election). After discovering there was no easy way to give to a targeted group of grassroots groups, Danny worked with the Movement Voter Project (MVP)—an organization that serves as an intelligence hub for the progressive donor community—as well as several senior advisors experienced in movement and power building, to form Airlift.


HOW IS AIRLIFT DIFFERENT AND WORTH MY DOLLARS?

Easy. Strategic. Proven.

We are all overwhelmed with the number of organizations, candidates and party appeals for our money. The amount of time and effort it takes to investigate and determine where our money will be most effective is a daunting, time-consuming task. We want the average donor to feel useful and empowered. 

So, Airlift does the work for you! Our multilayered vetting and selection process ensures that the organizations we choose to fund are some of the most impactful groups in the country when it comes to expanding the electorate and progressive ideas.

And, you always know what your money is doing. Every month, we send you The Drop—our donor update with highlights from our groups’ recent actions and news from the rest of the grassroots community. SIGN UP HERE to receive The Drop.


WHAT EXACTLY DO AIRLIFT GROUPS DO?

Year-round and face-to-face activation of non-voters.

Airlift-funded grassroots groups work year-round within their communities to engage new and unlikely voters around issues they care about and impact their daily lives, like: higher wages, healthcare, local policing and criminal justice reform and improved public education.

Everyday, our groups:

  • Register and mobilize voters, with a focus on young people and people of color

  • Perform year-round, neighbor-to-neighbor, issues-based organizing

  • Execute critical get-out-the vote campaigns

  • Fight for popular issues at the local and state levels

  • Develop and distribute voter guides that make it easy for people to vote

They also:

  • Continuously build coalitions with other local grassroots groups that allows them to leverage resources and amplify actions

  • Hire strong, experienced leadership and a demonstrated ability in non-voter engagement

  • Find, motivate and train local organizers who reflect the communities where they live

  • Recruit and help elect progressive candidates who support their issues, and then hold those elected officials accountable


WHAT HAVE AIRLIFT GROUPS ACCOMPLISHED?

All our groups deliver. 

Here just a few examples:

New VA Majority
Tram Nguyen is the Executive Director of New Virginia Majority. She exemplifies what we mean when we say our groups show up year after year. Tram, along with her team, fought for Medicare Expansion for 5 straight legislative sessions. They didn’t just pack up and quit after their first defeat. They kept on fighting, turning out additional voters, and they were ultimately successful in 2017. The result: 400,000 Virginians now have healthcare—400,000 previous non-voters who now know the power of voting. NVM has stayed hard at it, registering more than 100,000 new voters so far this year.

New Georgia Project
Since Stacey Abrams founded NGP in 2014, her organization has talked to 3.5 million Geogrians and registered 300,000. In addition, they have already registered 50,000 voters in 2019. Their plan is to register all eligible unregistered citizens of color by the end of the decade.

MoveTexas
MoveTexas is working to ensure youth have a voice in the policy-making process. The team registered over 29,000 new voters on college campuses prior to the 2018 election. In April of 2019, in coalition with Texas Civil Rights Project and the ACLU, they successfully defeated SB9—legislation that would have purged up to 95,000 Texans from the voter rolls and made voting more difficult for many thousands more. As a second collaborative effort, this time working with Texas Organizing Project, MoveTexas is fighting for paid sick leave for millions of working people across the state. Their ability to form coalitions with other grassroots groups is one of their many standout strengths.

Wisconsin Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC)
Angela Lang, BLOC Executive Director, harnesses an innate talent for turning non-voters into voters in Wisconsin. Angela and her team, working within the most incarcerated zip code in the US, knocked on 52,000 doors and had 14,000 live conversations with their Milwaukee neighbors in the run up to 2018 election. They were instrumental in helping to Tony Evers beat Scott Walker. Evers won the state by 30,000 votes, but he won Milwaukee by 78,000 votes! These are the kind of results Angela and BLOC can and will deliver in 2020.

SIGN UP HERE for our monthly updates on our groups.


HOW DOES AIRLIFT CHOOSE THE GROUPS WE FUND?

We do our homework! 

We designed, and regularly utilize, a multi-layered selection and evaluation process led by our Portfolio Management Team in consultation with a network of nationally recognized advisors from top movement organizations across the country. Leveraging their extensive grassroots movement and power building experience, our Portfolio team selects high-performing grassroots groups focused on bringing young people and people of color into the political process. Our advisors freely share their knowledge and expertise, offer strategy and provide valuable input when it comes to the selection and ongoing monitoring of our groups.

Airlift’s advisory panel includes:

  • Billy Wimsatt, Founder and Executive Director, Movement Voter Project

  • Matt Singer, the leading strategist behind automatic voter registration, now in 15 states

  • Larry Litvak, former CFO, Working Assets, former board member, Tides Foundation, and Lecturer in Public Policy, Stanford University

  • Jason Franklin, Kellogg Professor at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy

  • Natalie Foster, Fellow at the Institute for the Future and Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute

  • Ludovic Blain, Director, Color of Democracy Fund and Progressive Era Project

  • Becky Bond, strategy advisor to Beto O’Rourke and co-founder Realjusticepac.org


WHAT IS AIRLIFT’S SELECTION AND VETTING PROCESS?

  1. The Airlift Portfolio Management Team defines a strategy based on key objectives, such as: extending the Democratic wall of the western states eastward, rebuilding the blue wall in the Midwest, fighting voter suppression in the South, etc. 

  2. Movement Voter Project (MVP) and our senior advisors nominate groups that are best positioned to deliver on those strategies. 

  3. The Airlift Portfolio Management Team then evaluates each group by:

    • Reviewing each recommended group’s plan and past performance

    • Conducting in-person and video interviews with the prospective group’s leadership

    • Conducting cross-check interviews with other local movement leaders

  4. Each selected group undergoes continuous performance review (always with the possibility of being replaced) so our Portfolio team can ensure we stay on-strategy and that our donor’s dollars are going to the most effective groups.


WHY DOES AIRLIFT WORK SO CLOSELY WITH MOVEMENT VOTER PROJECT?

MVP incubated Airlift and we share the same philosophy of giving to high performing, issue-driven local groups. 

They provide us access to their team of national organizers, donor advisors and their close-to-the-ground intelligence.

MVP excels at:

  • Aggregating research on the entire field of local electoral organizing

  • Understanding where money is needed most and how it can be spent most effectively

  • Finding and quickly galvanizing support for new local organizing groups in key states

  • Collaborating with field experts across the country


WHY IS IT SO URGENT TO DONATE NOW?

Early money provides the highest return on investment, especially in the grassroots world. Hiring and training staff and field organizers early (as opposed to letting go of staff due to insufficient funds) allows our groups to engage with voters continuously prior to the 2020 election. Early and frequent voter contact results in significantly higher voter turnout; if the groups are limited in resources and can’t make contact multiple times prior to an election, GOTV efforts are much less effective. Establishing local infrastructure now will provide the effective GOTV framework for local, state-wide and national level races in 2020.


WHAT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DOES AIRLIFT SUPPORT?

We focus on advancing the progressive agenda as a whole, not individual candidates. 

While we strategically choose groups to fund based on their ability to impact larger elections, we’re interested in sponsoring the year-round work that goes beyond the presidency. Grassroots groups work to improve the lives of the people in their communities, engage them in the political process and give a voice to their personal (not political) concerns. And, they have a proven formula to expand the electorate and, ultimately, elect more progressive candidates locally and nationally: When non-voters are engaged face-to-face on community-based issues, they show up to the polls to vote—and then they vote progressive up the ticket the majority of the time.


WHY SHOULDN’T I GIVE TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OR TO CANDIDATES INSTEAD?

It’s not an either/or scenariograssroots giving and candidate/party giving are perfectly complementary. 

The Democratic Party and candidates focus on likely and (in some cases) swing voters, as they base their organizing and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts on polling data from past elections. The grassroots groups funded by Airlift focus exclusively on infrequent voters and non-voters, those who have never participated in the political system before, or have chosen to stop. Our grassroots groups are key to expanding the electorate by engaging those who aren’t engaged; candidates and the Party nurture voters who are already engaged. Two sides of the same giving coin!


IS IT BETTER TO GIVE ONLINE THROUGH THE AIRLIFT WEBSITE AND ACTBLUE, OR BY CHECK?

Both payment methods have a back end processing fee of approximately 4%. Donations provided through ActBlue is dispersed to the groups on a weekly basis, allowing the funds to be received sooner.

OTHER QUESTIONS? PLEASE EMAIL info@airlift.fund

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