Non-profit

As You Sow

Location:

OAKLAND, CA

Tax ID:

94-3169008

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $3,378,610
Expenses: $3,436,706
Assets: $1,882,098

Formation:

1992

Chief Executive Officer:

Andrew Behar

As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote using shareholder action to force companies to adopt various left-of-center viewpoints, commonly called by the euphemism “corporate social responsibility.” The organization buys shares in the companies to force the companies to change their positions on issues through shareholder advocacy. The group also engages in coalition-building and legal strategies to force changes on targeted corporations.

History

As You Sow was founded in 1992 in Oakland, California. The organization has argued that environmental and human rights issues can be solved by what they call “increased corporate responsibility.” [1] It targets businesses including McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in an attempt to force changes in business practices. In 2016, it filed a record number of shareholder petitions related to climate change, with few of them passing. [2]

Political Activities

As You Sow works to spread influence in many ways. The most popular means it uses is working with shareholders to buy shares in a targeted company. The organization then files resolutions at shareholder meetings to force companies to either change their business practices or remove certain ingredients from products. For example, in May 2017, As You Sow took credit for ExxonMobil taking a more supportive stance in combating climate change. [3] On its website, As You Sow estimates that, thanks partially to its work, activist shareholders have made benefitting left-wing agendas a key consideration in over $3 trillion worth of investments by companies each year. [4]

As You Sow was the lead filer on a failed December 2018 resolution to Advance Auto Parts. [5] According to SEC documents, As You Sow owns stock in Advance Auto Parts and submitted a proposal on behalf of another shareholder, the Gun Denhart Living Trust, that recommended the company join the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) movement, and begin factoring the environmental impact of climate change into company bookkeeping practices. [6] The resolution was blocked by Advance Auto Parts in 2019. [7]

As You Sow signed behind the lead filer, the Presbyterian Church USA, on a resolution for AIG, a large U.S. based insurance company, [8] demanding that the company undertake extensive studies to examine the potential impact of climate change on the company’s revenues and costs. [9] The resolution was apparently successful at coercing the company, since AIG’s 2019 shareholder information documents show that they committed to reviewing the impacts of a climate change scenario on their business. [10]

As You Sow has also been the lead filer on two separate shareholder resolutions regarding climate change that were made to Chevron, a major energy company. [11] One resolution, with 33 percent shareholder support, demanded that Chevron issue a report on how the company could meet the carbon emissions reduction goals set forth in the Paris Climate Accords, and the other demanded that the company issue a report on the amount of plastic pollution the company produced annually. [12] [13]

Other major companies that As You Sow has been involved in submitting shareholder resolutions to include Amazon, Apple, Coca-Cola, Marathon, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Verizon, Shell, ExxonMobil, Monsanto, and dozens of other large companies. [14]

Defunding of Business Groups

In May 2019, the Free Enterprise Project, a wing of the right-leaning National Center for Public Policy Research, called As You Sow “socialists” who use “extremely partisan … and deceptive tactics” to push businesses to “defund effective conservative organizations.” [15] Justin Danhoff, general counsel for the Free Enterprise Project, claimed that As You Sow was attempting to force companies to withdraw support for pro-business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable because of supposed “reputational risk,” a risk Danhoff claimed was only made real by As You Sow’s own smear campaigns against such organizations. [16]

Finance

In 2014, the group received $1.7 million in contributions and generated another $522,231 in “program revenue.” However, it spent $2.1 million with $1 million spent on salaries and benefits for employees. [17]

Funding

In 2017, The Del Amo Action Committee and The Rose Foundation gave grants in support of As You Sow. [18]

In past the foundation has donated money to the Sierra Club Foundation, Women’s Voices For The Earth, and Treepeople Inc. [19]

People

Andrew Behar serves as the CEO. Danielle Fugere serves as President and Chief Counsel. Conrad MacKerron serves as Senior Vice President. Thomas Van Dyck serves as the Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Directors. Among those who serve on the board of directors is Carl Pope, former Chairman of the Sierra Club.

References

  1. As You Sow. 2017. “About Us “. Asyousow.Org. Accessed August 3 2017. http://www.asyousow.org/about-us/. ^
  2. “Record Number Of Climate Change Shareholder Resolutions Filed This Year”. 2016. Justmeans.Com. Accessed August 4 2017. http://justmeans.com/blogs/record-number-of-climate-change-shareholder-resolutions-filed-this-year. ^
  3. Ahead of Exxon’s annual meeting, shareholders and investors push for climate action. 2017. “Ahead Of Exxon’s Annual Meeting, Shareholders And Investors Push For Climate Action”. Business Insider. Accessed August 4, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/r-ahead-of-exxons-annual-meeting-climate-activists-gain-ground-2017-5.[/note]

    The group also works with other like-minded organizations such as the Sierra Club to force changes on companies. They also use legal strategies to expand the power of shareholders in setting policy and the use of the proxy. Finally, they do award some grants occasionally to allied organizations like the Sierra Club Foundation. However, the vast majority of these shareholder resolutions fail by wide margins.

    Shareholder Advocacy

    One of As You Sow’s signature methods of activism is encouraging shareholder advocacy, a tactic whereby shareholders in publicly traded companies use their stock ownership “to promote environmental, social, and governance change” through Securities and Exchange Commission-regulated resolutions. [note]“Shareholder Advocacy.” As You Sow. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/shareholder-advocacy-1. ^

  4. “Shareholder Advocacy.” As You Sow. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/shareholder-advocacy-1. ^
  5. As You Sow. “Advance Auto Parts: Sustainability Reporting.” As You Sow. December 21, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/20/advanced-auto-parts-sustainability-reporting. ^
  6. “Division of Corporation Finance 2019 No-Action Letters Issued Under Exchange Act Rule 14a-8.” Division of Corporation Finance No-Action Letters Issued Under Exchange Act Rule 14a-8; 2019. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.sec.gov/divisions/corpfin/cf-noaction/2019_14a-8.shtml.

    See: Advance Auto Parts. ^

  7. As You Sow. “Advance Auto Parts: Sustainability Reporting.” As You Sow. December 21, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/20/advanced-auto-parts-sustainability-reporting. ^
  8. As You Sow. “AIG: Climate Change Scenario Analysis.” As You Sow. December 22, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/21/Climate Change Scenario Analysis?rq=aig. ^
  9. As You Sow. “AIG: Climate Change Scenario Analysis.” As You Sow. December 22, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/21/Climate Change Scenario Analysis?rq=aig. ^
  10. “American International Group, Inc.” Downloads. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://annual.aig.com/2018/downloads.

    See: 2019 Proxy Statement. ^

  11. “Resolutions.” As You Sow. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions-tracker. ^
  12. As You Sow. “Chevron Corporation: Paris Aligned Business Plan.” As You Sow. December 18, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/18/chevron-corporation-paris-aligned-business-plan. ^
  13. As You Sow. “Chevron Corporation: Report on Plastic Pellet Spills and Cleanup Actions.” As You Sow. December 18, 2018. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions/2018/12/18/chevron-corporation-plastic-pellet-spills. ^
  14. “Resolutions.” As You Sow. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://www.asyousow.org/resolutions-tracker. ^
  15. Center, The National. “Free Enterprise Project Blocks Leftist Efforts to Defund Pro-Business Associations.” The National Center. May 21, 2019. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://nationalcenter.org/ncppr/2019/05/06/free-enterprise-project-blocks-leftist-efforts-to-defund-pro-business-associations/. ^
  16. Center, The National. “Free Enterprise Project Blocks Leftist Efforts to Defund Pro-Business Associations.” The National Center. May 21, 2019. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://nationalcenter.org/ncppr/2019/05/06/free-enterprise-project-blocks-leftist-efforts-to-defund-pro-business-associations/ ^
  17. 2017. Pdfs.Citizenaudit.Org. Accessed August 4 2017. http://pdfs.citizenaudit.org/2015_09_EO/94-3169008_990_201412.pdf.[/note]

    The group spent $531,579 in its campaign to combat climate change. The goal of the campaign was to push companies to take steps to mitigate their impact on climate. They supported shareholder resolutions to force companies to emit less greenhouse gases.

    It also spent $855,870 on an anti-waste and environmental health campaign. Among the things the environmental health campaigned on was opposition to genetically modified food. However, scientific authorities reject the case against so-called GMOs, with Slate writer William Saletan characterizing the anti-food crusade as “full of fraud, fearmongering, and errors.”[note]Saletan, William 2015. “The Misleading War On Gmos: The Food Is Safe. The Rhetoric Is Dangerous.”. Slate Magazine. Accessed August 4 2017. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html ^

  18. 2017. Pdfs.Citizenaudit.Org. Accessed August 4 2017. http://pdfs.citizenaudit.org/2015_09_EO/94-3169008_990_201412.pdf.[/note] In the past, the RSF Community Fund Inc. and Humanity United have also donated money. [note]LLC, CitizenAudit.org. 2017. ” Citizenaudit.Org – AS YOU SOW “. Citizenaudit.Org. Accessed August 4 2017. https://www.citizenaudit.org/organization/943169008/AS%20YOU%20SOW/. ^
  19. LLC, CitizenAudit.org. 2017. ” Citizenaudit.Org – AS YOU SOW “. Citizenaudit.Org. Accessed August 4 2017. https://www.citizenaudit.org/organization/943169008/AS%20YOU%20SOW/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 1993

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,378,610 $3,436,706 $1,882,098 $133,379 N $2,996,038 $379,691 $2,881 $281,301
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,681,083 $2,747,327 $1,909,496 $104,596 N $3,153,112 $525,419 $2,552 $233,298 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,259,517 $2,101,080 $1,036,317 $166,046 N $1,735,325 $522,231 $1,961 $238,658 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,705,427 $1,684,039 $884,987 $170,644 N $1,387,927 $317,400 $100 $229,721 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,450,474 $1,954,583 $801,326 $108,371 N $1,035,725 $405,640 $2,430 $124,800 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,872,925 $1,667,322 $1,294,594 $97,530 N $1,745,052 $127,083 $2,987 $203,192 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,277,112 $1,830,826 $1,134,739 $143,278 N $1,058,753 $213,045 $2,900 $149,420 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    As You Sow

    1611 TELEGRAPH AVE STE 1450
    OAKLAND, CA 94612-2102