The Action Network is an online tool for left-of-center outlets to organize, fundraise, and circulate petitions for liberal causes. Action Network was used to organize the left-of-center demonstration Women’s March, environmentalist protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, and the March for Our Lives events supporting gun control. The online platform can be used by any left-of-center organization and features a free and paid version of its services. The Action Network emerged during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.
The Action Network, a 501(c)(4) organization, has a 501(c)(3) counterpart known as the Action Network Fund.
Founded by former digital director for then-U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) Brian Young in 2012, the Action Network was envisioned to be “a digital campaign platform that could be collaborative, flexible, and responsive.” The Action Network was born out of the Occupy Wall Street protests and promoted as a “family tree for progressive movements.” In 2012, Young envisioned a platform with email capabilities, fundraising tools, and be a platform for constituents to contact legislators about important issues related to progressive causes. 1
The Action Network works by allowing organizers to set up a national website, recruit volunteers, plan meetings, and to accept donations for an organization’s mission. The Women’s March in 2017 was able to use the platform to coordinate with 650 similar activities across the country. The Action Network has also been used to organize protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Walmart during the Black Friday shopping holiday. The network has also been used by the Indivisible Project, the March for Science, and the People’s Climate March. The Action Network platform also offers integration of mass emails, digital petitions, and allows users to start events, allow participants to RSVP, and sell tickets for fundraisers. 2
The Action Network is only available to left-progressive organizations and will not assist any other type of organization that opposes progressive stances. 3
In 2014, the Action Network, a division of Action Squared, was used to assemble the People’s Climate March in New York. The network was used to assemble a crowd to protest “international inaction” on climate change at the United Nations. The Action Network, hailed as the backbone for the march, was also used to coordinate the Women’s March in 2017. The Action Network assembled names, emails, and other data for the platform to organize constituents for future protests or actions and managed the March’s email list. 4 5
In March 2018, the Action Network was used to help organize the March for Our Lives event, a pro-gun control protest in Washington, DC. 6 In July of 2018, the March for Our Lives organization used the Action Network platform to raise money for offices in Washington and South Florida, and a Washington-based lobbyist. March for Our Lives was estimated to have raised $5 million. 7
In February of 2019, the Action Network was used by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America to help elect socialist candidates to the Chicago City Council. The platform website included a petition to push for “Housing for All,” “Sanctuary for All,” “Education for All,” and to “Tax the Rich.” The DSA-aligned candidates used the Action Network to organize followers of their campaigns for Chicago City Council. 8
In March of 2019, Fox News host Tucker Carlson faced criticism for comments he made that claimed immigrants made America “poorer and dirtier.” The Action Network called on women CEOs to boycott the program like Tricia Griffith of Progressive Insurance, Mary Barra of General Motors, and Pamela Nicholson of Enterprise Holdings. 9
In April of 2019, a three-member panel of the Texas Workforce Commission approved rules earlier this month for “gig-economy” employees to maintain their status as independent contractors. Members of the Texas Workforce Commission received 211 comments on the proposed changes, and 133 of those comments in opposition came from the Action Network. 10
In 2019, the Action Network was used by the groups Fridays for Future, International Indigenous Youth Council, Earth Guardians, and 350 Colorado to organize an event with environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg. The event was used advertised as a “Denver Climate Strike” with Thunberg as the main speaker. 11
In July, 2022, Now or Never, a coalition of left-wing climate activist groups, was formed with Action Network as its parent company. 12 On July 6th, Now or Never announced online that it plans to disrupt the annual Congressional Baseball Game in Washington D.C on July 28th unless Congress passed “sweeping climate legislation that meets the urgency of the moment.” 13 On its website, the group states “On July 28th, we will converge en masse on the Congressional Baseball Game. If our politicians have failed to deliver, we will shut it down.” 14 In addition, the group announced plans for additional disruptions if “strong climate legislation” had not passed by certain dates: it would plan to protest the DNC in the states of Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona should climate legislation fail to pass by August 5, and would plan “mass direct action that fundamentally disrupts business-as-usual in D.C.” without passed climate legislation by September 30. 15 16
In November of 2019, Action Squared, the parent company of Action Network and Action Builder, announced that its employees had unionized and joined the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union Local 70. “Action Squared employees say that forming a union will allow them to create a more equitable workplace.” Brian Young, Action Squared President, said Action Squared is “rooted in the labor movement and we welcome the newly formed union staff.” 17
Mark Fleischman is President of the Action Network. A longtime liberal activist, Fleischmann was affiliated with Keep Your Promises DuPont, an action group that targeted DuPont Chemical Company. 18 Mr. Fleischman is also a former union organizer. 19
The Action Network helps facilitate support for labor unions including the AFL-CIO and National Education Association; openly left-wing media outlets such as the Daily Kos, activist projects such as GetEqual, Women’s March, United We Dream, 18MR.org, and New Economy Coalition; and funders such as the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. 20 The Action Network has also been used to organize events for Americans for Democratic Action,21 Liberal Women Unite,22 and the Democratic Socialists of America. 23
Among the organizations on the extreme and radical left to which Action Network has opened its platform are the Communist Party USA24 and the associated Young Communist League USA. 25 People’s Forum used Action Network to promote the book launch for Marxist Literary Criticism Today. 26
The Action Network is funded by user fees from various groups that use the platform for events, fundraising, ticket sales or other promotions.
The Action Network’s IRS Form 990 filings for 2016, 2017, and 2018 were obtained by the Capital Research Center and are available here:
- Fosco, Molly. “Welcome to the App-Based Resistance … Used by Both Sides.” OZY, October 3, 2019. https://www.ozy.com/politics-and-power/welcome-to-the-app-based-resistance-used-by-both-sides/90563/.
- Breland, Ali. “Left Finds New Online Tools to Fight Trump.” TheHill, February 21, 2017. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/320195-left-finds-new-online-tools-to-fight-trump.
- Crockett, Emily. “The Day Without a Woman Organizers Have Been Released from Jail.” Vox. Vox, March 9, 2017. https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/3/8/14857948/day-without-a-woman-organizers-arrested.
- Anzilotti, Eillie. “This Tech Platform Is The Backbone Of The Anti-Trump Organizing Efforts.” Fast Company. Fast Company, March 29, 2017. https://www.fastcompany.com/3069132/this-tech-platform-is-the-backbone-of-the-anti-trump-organizing-efforts.
- Crockett, Emily. “The ‘Day Without a Woman’ Strike, Explained.” Vox. Vox, March 8, 2017. https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/3/3/14721468/international-womens-day-strike-a-day-without-a-woman-march-8.
- Sisson, Patrick. “March for Our Lives: How Teens Are Using Transit for This Weekend’s Big Protest.” Curbed. Curbed, March 19, 2018. https://www.curbed.com/2018/3/19/17139778/march-for-our-lives-transportation-logistics-travel-housing.
- Vassolo, Martin, Alex Harris, and Glenn Garvin. “March For Our Lives Has Raised Millions and Has a D.C. Lobbyist. Here’s What’s next.” miamiherald. Miami Herald, July 20, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article215023200.html.
- Network, Action. “Elect Socialists to Chicago City Council!” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/forms/elect-socialists-to-chicago-city-council?nowrapper=true&referrer=&source=generalMeeting.
- bizjournals.com. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2019/03/tucker-carlsons-show-faces-boycott.html?page=all.
- Miller, Steve. “TWC Passed New ‘Gig Economy’ Rule despite Heavy Public Opposition.” The Texas Monitor, April 30, 2019. https://texasmonitor.org/twc-passed-new-gig-economy-rule-despite-heavy-public-opposition/.
- Hindi, Saja. “Greta Thunberg to Strike with Denver Climate Activists Today.” The Denver Post. The Denver Post, October 11, 2019. https://www.denverpost.com/2019/10/09/greta-thunberg-denver-cllimate-change-strike/.
- Troutman, Elizabeth. “On Five-Year Anniversary of Shooting, Leftists Again Threaten Congressional Baseball Game.” July 6, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/democrats/on-five-year-anniversary-of-shooting-leftists-again-threaten-congressional-baseball-game/
- Now or Never. Accessed July 7, 2022. https://nowornever.earth/
- “Here’s our three-part plan.” Now or Never. Accessed July 7, 2022. https://nowornever.earth/#plan
- Musto, Julia. “Climate activists plan to disrupt Congressional Baseball Game.” Fox News. July 6, 2022. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/climate-activists-plan-disrupt-congressional-baseball-game
- “Here’s our three-part plan.” Now or Never. Accessed July 7, 2022. https://nowornever.earth/#plan
- “Action Squared Workers Unionize.” Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://www.dclabor.org/home/action-squared-workers-unionize.
- “DuPont Reaches C8 Settlement Agreement for $670M.” newsandsentinel.com/. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/local-news/2017/02/dupont-reaches-c8-settlement-agreement-for-670m/.
- Peterson, Hayley. “How America’s Largest Retailer Became Its Favorite Punching Bag.” Business Insider. Business Insider, November 26, 2013. https://www.businessinsider.com/the-war-against-wal-mart-2013-11.
- Young, Brian. “#ANPartner Case Study: AFL-CIO Migrates Seamlessly to Action Network.” Medium. Powering Progressive Movements, December 7, 2017. https://medium.com/powering-progressive-movements/anpartner-case-study-afl-cio-migrates-seamlessly-to-action-network-380ac577ef4.
- “Americans for Democratic Action (ADA): Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/groups/americans-for-democratic-action-ada.
- “Liberal Women Unite-STL: Liberal Women Unite-STL.” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/groups/liberal-women-unite-stl.
- “Democratic Socialists of America – DSA USA: Democratic Socialists of America – DSA USA.” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/groups/dsausa.
- “Join the Communist Party USA!” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-the-communist-party-usa.
- “Young Communist League USA, NY District: Young Communist League USA, NY District.” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/groups/young-communist-league-ny/.
- “Joint Book Launch with Barbara Foley and Margaret Stevens.” The Action Network. Accessed December 16, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/events/joint-book-launch-with-barbara-foley-and-margaret-stevens?nowrapper=true&referrer=&source=.