A letter to members from Laura Reese, Executive Director, and Co-Founder, AFA
Dear AFA Members,
AFA is a grassroots organization run by volunteers. Recently we’ve been asked about how we spend membership dues. I reiterate the original promise today:
100% of membership dues go to lobbying.
Here’s some background on the recent discussion: In November of 2020, we recognized we may need to earmark a small portion of member dues to pay for operational costs, in order to have reliable funding for those expenses. To be clear,
No member dues have been used for any expenses other than hiring lobbyists to date.
When we communicated that policy change, we explained that a small portion of members may see a fraction used for upcoming operational expenses. We proactively communicated this to members, should we in the future needed to use it. Again, we have not used it to date.
Some outside observers (non-members) have questioned where our membership money has been used and asked for transparency. Since none has been used for operational expenses, it’s still accurate that 100% has been sent and goes to our lobbyist. We were very clear when we made this policy change, reserving the right to make future decisions should we need them through all channels of communication including updating members by email, asking for feedback, communicating to volunteers in team calls, and updating the policy on the website itself. So, we can see how non-members may not have had access to all of the places that we shared this information.
Some further details
The change in policy was in place for just a month and a half, and to be crisp, no money from member dues went to anything other than lobbying. We founders have made it a priority to seek alternative non-member funding to cover these non-lobbying operational expenses and are confident that we will achieve that. In the edge case that we can’t, we reserve the right to communicate to members when and if we decide to change this policy. At that point, if appropriate, we may report those expenditures to members.
Some examples of operational expenditures we incur: communications hosting, web hosting, IT development, web development, collaboration tools, accounting software, and design tools.
We are lobbying in DC as we speak
In the meantime, we are lobbying full-force in DC right now. Our lobbyist, Mr. O’Connor of Lincoln Park Group is the only one getting paid by members’ money and he has been hard at work, meeting with the new key members of Biden’s Senate Ag Committee. Our draft transition legislation is well-received. We are positioning our legislation to be a launchpad to also later incorporate further legislation into the next Farm Bill.
Our intent is to raise a lobbying force in DC that will make our voice not only heard but acted on. This has been a worthwhile exercise in clarifying and improving AFA donation flows. We thank all of you for your support.
Executive Director & Founder, AFA
AFA is a 501c4 non-profit registered with the IRS.
Find 990 filings here.
Operational expenses are foundational to lobbying
Any serious organization has op-ex. And we are serious about scaling to a point where we have a lobbying army fighting for our interests in national farm policy. For anyone wishing to contribute to AFA operational expenses, we offer an alternative means to make single donations and specify a percent that can be set aside for op-ex.