I arrived in the United States from France with my parents when I was six years old. Like so many others around the world, my family saw the opportunity and promise of America as unmatched. I believe much of that opportunity is rooted in our uniquely democratic and participatory government.
In the eighth grade, I took the oath of citizenship. Becoming American—instead of being born American—has inspired in me a deeply personal responsibility to defend and uphold that pledge by supporting democratic ideals and institutions that are the underpinning of our system. From supporting the integrity of our elections to the fundamental role of a free press in our society, our philanthropic giving in these areas has increased and evolved to meet the mounting threats to our democracy.
And while I believe our system is the best in the world, it has some dubious features, including the ability to make untraceable contributions aimed at influencing our democracy in ways that potentially undermine our democratic institutions and ideals. As philanthropists, Pam and I support a number of efforts—both within and outside of The Omidyar Group. A portion of these donations are made to 501(c)(4) organizations, which are not legally required to submit donor names to the IRS. In fact, there are currently no standard disclosure procedures for such donations, even though they may potentially have an outsized impact on debate and dialogue of important issues of public concern in our country.
We believe transparency and accountability are critical to securing and sustaining a healthy society and a strong democracy. These are among the core values of the organizations we create and support through our philanthropic giving. Fundamentally, we believe that Americans have the right to know who’s influencing them and their elections—and under current laws and across various platforms, that can be very difficult to discern. In that spirit, we have decided to disclose our annual personal giving to organizations that might influence, impact, or directly intersect with fundamental matters of democracy, elections, voting rights, or public policy in the United States.
As there is no model for disclosing this class of donations, we are starting here by listing the contributions we made in 2019 to 501(c)(4) organizations in the United States. It is not our intent to personally advocate for others to do the same. It is our intent to do what feels right to us. Many Omidyar Group organizations also support groups that advocate for openness and transparency in giving, including the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Responsive Politics, Issue One, Open the Government, and the Project on Government Oversight.
Please see the list immediately below for our 2019 501(c)(4) contributions:
|Civic Action Fund||Strengthening democracy through greater representation, voter engagement, and civil empowerment.||26-4486735||$7,000,000|
|Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest||Developing solutions that promote transparency and responsiveness in government.||46-3490671||$272,500|
|Democracy Fund Voice||Advocating for a stronger democracy that is responsive to the public and able to meet our nation’s greatest challenges.||46-5051755||$9,379,609|
|Humanity United Action||Advocating for legislative policies that help transform human exploitation and violent conflict to enduring freedom and peace.||26-2583379||$855,000|
In addition to our direct giving above, some Omidyar Group organizations we support also give to 501(c)4s, including Omidyar Network (ON). More information about ON’s 2019 contributions can be found here.
Our support for a strong democracy is aimed at protecting democratic institutions, systems, and values and not at supporting specific candidates or political parties (we have not contributed to an individual candidate or political party since 2011 and will not be giving to any candidates in the upcoming elections). In the years to come, we look forward to sharing details of our 501(c)4 giving on an annual basis.