The MoveOn Effect: The Internet’s Impact on Political Activism Dave Karpf, Ph.D Assistant Professor, Rutgers University [email protected] www.davidkarpf.com Twitter: @Davekarpf The Internet and Political Action: A New Wave of Skeptics A New Generation of Political Advocacy Organizations Let’s take a closer look at MoveOn Founded in 1998 Emerged in 2002-3 as a vocal force in the antiwar movement 5 million members $90 million+ donated in 2008 election 933,800 volunteers in ‘08, 20 million+ volunteer-hours 200+ locally-based “MoveOn Councils •32 staffpeople •Zero Offices Not Just “Clickstream” Activism MoveOn Isn’t an Isolated Example •Founded in January ‘09 •14 staff (only 3 in ‘09) •400,000+ members •Zero Office Space •$1,350,000 raised in ‘09 •Combined expertise in technology, issue campaigns, and electoral campaigns •Built their list around Norm Coleman/Al Franken and around the public option Membership regimes: This has all happened before Skocpol (2003) describes the displacement of cross-class membership federations by professionally-managed advocacy groups. Membership went from attending/participating to supporting/check-writing This was a technologicallymediated transition. And we’re experiencing another one (Bimber 2003) Era First Generation Second (1800s-1960s) Generation (1970s-early 2000s) Third Generation (2000-present) Membership Type CommunityBased Issue-Based Online-Based Typical Activities Attending Meetings, Holding Elective Office, Participating in Civic Activities Mailing Checks, Writing Letters, Signing Petitions (Armchair Activism) Attending local meetups, Voting online, submitting usergenerated content Funding Source Membership Dues Prospect Direct Mail, Patron Donors, Grants Online Appeals, Patron Donors, Grants Dominant Org-Type Cross-Class Membership Federation Single-Issue Professional Advocacy Org Internetmediated Issue Generalist Three Ideal-Types Diarists Core Staff Councils DFA Neofederated Community E-mail members MoveOn Hub-andspokes Nat’l affiliates DailyKos Online Comm-ofinterest 3 Elements of MoveOn’s/PCCC’s Fundraising Success 1. Zero-cost scaling. 100 e-mails cost the same as 10,000 e-mails. 2. “A/B Testing.” A form of passive democratic input 3. “Headline Chasing.” Targeted Appeals, Timely Issues. Meanwhile, Old Revenue Streams are Collapsing Prospect Direct Mail is in industry- wide freefall. Targeted fundraising appeals yield restricted money which cannot be used for organizational overhead expenses. Existing Advocacy Organizations have high overhead costs National Wildlife Federation AFL-CIO New Groups and Old Groups Fundraise Differently Data from the Membership Communications Project 6 months of e-mails, 70 progressive orgs, 2,162 data points And It Isn’t Just EPetitions This isn’t “clicktivism.” It sure ain’t “facebook activism.” It isn’t even “organizing w/out orgs.” …nor is it “networked nonprofits.” It’s disruption theory. •Changing definitions of membership •Dramatic shifts in revenue streams •New tactical repertoires •Resultant shift in how collective action is structured in America. •Displacement of old orgs by new.