Non-profit

National Organization for Women (NOW)

Logo of National Organization for Women . (link)
Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

23-7094479

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $3,398,980
Expenses: $3,340,004
Assets: $830,555

Formation:

1966 in Washington, D.C.

Founders:

Betty Friedan

Catherine Conroy

Pauli Murray

Also see National Organization for Women Foundation (nonprofit)

The National Organization For Women (NOW) is a second wave feminist organization formed in the 1960s to take actions to bring women into the mainstream of American society. [1] [2]

Though the organization was formed to push for women’s legal and economic equality, the scope of the organization’s agenda has widened significantly to encompass all aspects of the left-of-center platform including tax and spend deficit spending to expand social programs, government funded handouts, unfettered abortions, government-controlled single-payer healthcare, and an unceasing litany of LGBT interest issues. [3] [4] [5] [6]

NOW uses direct actions including protests, aggressive corporate campaigns, unregistered lobbying efforts, grassroots political organizing and litigation to carry out their left-of-center feminist agenda.[7]

NOW claims to be a general women’s organization, but the group suffers politically from the fact that it doesn’t represent all women, and have pushed hot-button political issues such as abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment despite stiff opposition from women and feminists who oppose those policies.[8] [9] NOW has been criticized for ignoring or whitewashing misogyny committed by Democrats while vilifying similar behavior from Republicans.[10] NOW defended President Bill Clinton after he was accused of sexual harassment, and deemed Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) a “champion” in spite of an incident in which he killed a woman while allegedly driving negligently. [11] [12] A NOW spokesperson also called 2010 Republican candidate for Governor of California Meg Whitman a “whore.”[13]

Organizational Overview

The National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed on June 30, 1966, during the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington, D.C.[14] Led by feminist author Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray, Kay Clarenbach and Catherine Conroy, 28 women[15] serving as delegates at the convention, furious over what they perceived as the conference’s inability to act, and inspired by the Civil Rights movement[16] decided to establish their own organization to take actions to bring women into the mainstream of American society. At this first informal meeting Friedan named the group. [17]

Shortly thereafter, NOW held its first annual conference in Washington, D.C., electing organization officers, creating NOW’s structure, and adopting a broad statement of purpose addressing “all women and all facets of a woman’s life.”[18] In its statement of purpose, NOW proclaimed, “Women’s problems are linked to many broader questions of social justice” and pledged to give “active support” to other similar causes.[19]

NOW is a national organization with a D.C.-based headquarters, nine regional offices that initiate protests or lobbying, 50 state offices that focuses on public policy and advocacy in the various state legislatures, and 600 local NOW chapters that do most of NOW’s politicking and organizing.[20]

Operations

NOW direct mass actions (including marches, rallies, pickets, counter-demonstrations, non-violent civil disobedience), intensive lobbying, grassroots political organizing, and litigation to implement policy changes at both the state and national level.[21]

Lobbying

A review of federal lobbying disclosures revealed that neither NOW, NOW Foundation, NOW PAC, nor any state NOW chapter is a federally registered lobbying entity or client.[22] However, the group proclaims that part of their action plan is “intensive lobbying” and that, “NOW activists do extensive electoral and lobbying work.”[23]

NOW’s immediate past president, Terry O’Neill, was not a federally registered lobbyist,[24] however, in July 2017, the organization elected lobbyist[25] Toni Van Pelt president of NOW.[26]

Despite not registering as a lobbying organization, NOW calls upon its members to lobby federal legislators on behalf of their agenda against bills that repeal the Affordable Care Act and in support of bills that enact a government-run “public option” healthcare plan,[27] mandate 12 weeks of paid health and maternity leave, expand a Social Security benefits, require artificial sex-based wage adjustments, permit government funding of abortion, allow late term abortions, and provide government handouts for the purchase of diapers.[28]

Also see Legal Momentum (Non-Profit)

In 1970, NOW incorporated the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund as a separate national 501(c)(3) organization to carry out their legal advocacy efforts. This organization was renamed Legal Momentum in 2004.[29]

In 2016, Legal Momentum spent $2.6 million in support of their legal and judicial education programs. Legal Momentum used litigation and advocacy efforts to focus on issues such as occupational segregation, dating violence in schools, and other issues in line with NOW’s overall vision.[30]

In 2016, Legal Momentum received $450,000 in government grants, including a grant from the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women. [31]

Political Activities (NOW PAC)

Also see National Organization for Women PAC (527)

NOW’s political activity is conducted through NOW PAC.[32]NOW created its PAC in 1977.[33] Since 2006, NOW PAC has endorsed over 500 political candidates with varying degrees of success.[34]The PAC has spent nearly $1 million on political contributions, effectively all of which has gone to Democrats.[35]

In 2007, NOW PAC endorsed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for President and only switched to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) after Clinton’s withdrawal. In April 2015, “with not a minute to waste,” NOW PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. NOW claims to have organized grassroots efforts for Hillary during the primary, and NOW leaders from 11 states served as delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention for Hillary.[36]

Politics Over Feminism

National Organization for Women found itself embroiled in controversy when it denied support for the unsuccessful Senate bid of Millicent Fenwick, a moderate New Jersey Republican, in 1982. She lost to Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

NOW’s then-president said that the organization couldn’t endorse candidates in a vacuum based solely on their positions and they opposed Fenwick because Fenwick would have strengthened Republican control of the Senate. Conversely, the National Women’s Political Caucus endorsed Mrs. Fenwick saying, “If the woman supports our issues, we support the woman.”[37]

NOW has a long history of supporting men over women candidates, even in Democratic primaries. Former New York Lt. Gov. Mary Anne Krupsak (D) didn`t get the endorsement of NOW’s New York City chapter in her 1978 Democratic campaign for governor and former Connecticut Secretary of State Gloria Schaffer, a liberal Democrat, failed to get NOW`s backing in her 1976 race against liberal Republican U.S. Sen. Lowell Weicker (R, later I-Connecticut). NOW also helped Democratic men oust former U.S. Rep. Margaret Heckler (R-Massachusetts) and also tried to oust U.S. Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Illinois).[38]

In 2008, NOW President Kim Gandy said the nomination of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) for Vice President was “a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest” and that the organization emphatically does not only support women candidates just because they are women.[39]

In 2016, NOW PAC endorsed Democrat Bill Otto over U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Missouri).[40]

Selective Outrage

NOW has been accused of hypocrisy due to their politically motivated decisions to ignore or whitewash male Democrat misogyny while vilifying similar behavior from Republican men.

In 1994, NOW was criticized for their failure to support a lawsuit claiming sexual harassment against Democratic President Bill Clinton while only a few years earlier rallying to support similar allegations by Anita Hill leveled at conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.[41]

In 2009 the group mourned the loss of “women’s rights champion” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts),[42]even though he was a serial womanizer and his allegedly negligent driving led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.[43] During the 2016 Presidential election, NOW’s president argued that Republican nominee Donald Trump was “unfit to serve” because he made lewd comments about grabbing a woman’s private parts.[44]

In 2010, when Republican nominee for the governorship of California, business executive Meg Whitman, was called a “whore” by a member of her Democratic opponent’s campaign staff, California NOW President Patty Bellasalma said, “Meg Whitman could be described as ‘a political whore.’ Yes, that’s an accurate statement.”[45]

Boycotts & Corporate Campaigns

NOW launched their first corporate boycott in 1968 against Colgate-Palmolive products. Over the years the group has protested or boycotted a number of companies because of their corporate policies, among these corporations were AT&T, Allstate Insurance, Cracker Barrel,[46] and a more than six-year PR campaign against Wal-Mart.[47]  In one case, NOW led a boycott of Domino’s Pizza, because founder and then-CEO Thomas Monaghan, a Catholic, had given large personal donations to antiabortion groups.[48]

In 2017, NOW president Terry O’Neill led a boycott of Wegman’s grocery store for carrying Trump-branded wine.[49] The effort appeared to backfire as the chain rapidly sold out of Trump wine at all its Virginia (where the Trump wine is made and distributed) stores with one exception.[50]

Left-Wing Political Agenda

At its second conference, NOW’s focus was narrowly tailored to women’s issues including passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, the repeal of restrictions on abortion, and publicly-funded child care.[51]

However, over the four decades since its creation, NOW’s advocacy has expanded far beyond these issues to numerous liberal programs tenuously connected to women’s rights. NOW’s official priorities currently fall under six progressive ideals; economic justice; abortion rights; racial justice; LGBTQ rights; ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; and ending violence against women.[52]

In each of these areas NOW has a long history of liberal advocacy.

Abortion

In 1967, NOW was the first national organization to call for the legalization of abortion and for the repeal of all anti-abortion laws. By 1994, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, NOW v. Scheidler, affirmed NOW’s right to use federal racketeering laws against pro-life protestors who organize campaigns to persuade women not to have abortions.[53]

In 2009, during debate over Obamacare, NOW opposed efforts by lawmakers to exclude abortion coverage from government-subsidized health plans created by the law and supported the mandate for contraceptive coverage. Subsequently, NOW signed on to an amicus brief supporting the Obama administration in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which sought to restrict the mandate’s application to closely held businesses whose owners had religious objections to the practice.[54]

NOW has made ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) central to its mission after it formed in 1966, casting the Equal Rights Amendment as a matter of economic equality.[55] NOW has consistently and so far unsuccessfully fought for passage and 38-state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.[56] The amendment ended up three states short of the 38 needed for ratification, and it lapsed in 1982. [57] In 2014, while pledging to continue seeking ratification for the Equal Rights Amendment, NOW’s Foundation published a paper arguing that if the amendment were passed, any laws that limit access to abortions would be constitutionally prohibited sex-based discrimination.[58]

Support for Liberal Spending Priorities

NOW has used women’s issues as a cover to support expansive government spending.  In 2009, NOW’s president supported the massive $831 billion[59] “stimulus package” because the recession “had a ‘devastating effect’ on women because of cuts to child care and healthcare local government services.”[60]

In 2010, NOW’s president, Terry O’Neill, told the right-leaning CNS News, that in the face of the $14 trillion national debt the Federal Government should increase social program spending because “social programs at the state and local level are being decimated because states, unlike the federal government, states can’t run a deficit.” Moreover, O’Neill said “The federal government can and should [increase deficit spending] in order to support these social programs.”[61]

This was not the only time NOW’s leadership has supported massive government expenditures. In 1996, NOW launched a “hunger strike” against welfare reform. In 2001, NOW called for an “economic stimulus” package for low-wage workers that included extending unemployment and health insurance for laid off workers. [62]

Government-Run Healthcare

In 2007, NOW launched a campaign for universal health care as a fundamental human right to be offered via a socialized single-payer system. Then in 2009, NOW pushed for inclusion of a single-payer plan in Obamacare and bemoaned the legislation as not liberal enough. The group then touted passage of the ACA as a “remarkable step forward.”[63] In 2011, NOW passed a resolution “in support of single-payer healthcare legislation on the state and federal levels.”[64]

LGBTQ Issues

In 1971, a NOW resolution proclaimed, “lesbian rights are ‘a legitimate concern of feminism.’” NOW has supported legal recognition of same-sex marriages since at least 1996[65] and cheered the Supreme Court decisions that ultimately mandated such recognition.[66]

In 2014, NOW passed a resolution that pledged to use the term LGBTQIA because LGBT because the shorter term discriminated against individuals who “who do not self-identify within the LGBT acronym.”[67]

Affirmative Action

In 1979 NOW organized a conference entitled, “Racism and Sexism-A Shared Struggle for Equal Rights,” and the following year adopted an affirmative action bylaw. Over the course of three decades NOW has held multiple conferences on race-based issues including abortion and wages. [68]

Immigration

NOW has a long history of support for measures that provide amnesty or other protected status to illegal immigrants. In 2006, NOW opposed the McCain-Kennedy compromise immigration proposal as too harsh and participated in national immigrants’ rights marches in New York and Washington, D.C.[69] In 2008 NOW established the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR). In 2012, NOW opposed Arizona’s tough immigration law that would have let state police apprehend suspected illegal immigrants, and in 2014 NOW lobbied for immigration reform legislation and government-funded healthcare for immigrant women and children.[70]

NOW’s 2017 action plan calls for protecting illegal immigrants including over 1 million employed by “sanctuary restaurants,” members of a coalition convened by the left-wing labor group Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.[71]

President Trump Resistance

After his Presidential election, NOW proclaimed “Donald Trump’s administration poses the greatest threat to women’s lives and well being that we have seen in decades.” [72]

NOW announced the creation of a new state action plan to fight back[73] and resist against the “the harmful and discriminatory actions of the administration.”[74] The plan calls for mobilizing on a number of progressive fronts including, in support of unfettered abortions, against the repeal of Obamacare, for the creation of a new public option healthcare plan, in support of amnesty and sanctuary immigration policies, and for expanding voting rights/fighting against voter ID laws.[75]

Finances

From 2012-2015 NOW’s spending has stayed relatively steady around $2.5 million per year, while revenues remained close to $3 million annually. Consequently, in three years, the organization’s net assets have grown from almost zero to over $300k.

2012[76] 2015[77] Chg.
Revenue $3,078,824 $2,940,600 -$138,224
Expenses $2,522,646 $2,646,779 $124,133
Net Assets $34,146 $326,471 $292,325

Membership Funding

Currently, NOW claims to be the largest feminist organization in the nation, with more than 500,000 contributing members.[78] However, NOW’s website acknowledges that the organization has a historic “flair for making a few seem like many”[79] and a review of NOW’s most recent annual IRS filing indicates this claim is exaggerated. NOW’s annual IRS financial report from 2015 revealed that the national organization took in $1,617,508 in membership dues.[80] Based on the group’s dues of $35-$40 per member[81] they could have as few as 50,000 dues paying members, though membership in state and local affiliates means the total number is likely higher than that minimum.[82]

Other Funding

Aside from member dues, in 2015 NOW took in $1.2 million in contributions from other sources.[83]

According to Matthew Vadum in a 2011 article for Townhall Magazine, NOW has taken in $106,200 from far-left philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (formerly Institute) since 1999 and $34,848 from the Tides Foundation since 2002.[84] Discover the Networks also indicates that NOW has received funding from the American Express Foundation, the Baker Street Foundation, the California Endowment, the ChevronTexaco Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hilton Family Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation, the New World Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the New York Times Company Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Shefa Fund, the Target Foundation, and the Vanguard Public Foundation.[85]

Criticism

Rolling Stone Rape Hoax

In 2016, NOW was publicly chastised by multiple news organizations for coming to the defense of a woman known by the pseudonym “Jackie” after it was proven that she had lied to Rolling Stone magazine about the fact she was raped. Despite the fact that the woman was proven to have lied about her rape, NOW labeled “Jackie” a rape “survivor” and condemned a (female) university dean for moving forward with a defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone related to their incorrect reporting of the falsified alleged incident.[86] [87]

Washington Examiner commentator Ashe Schow wrote with regards to NOW’s defense of the women, “standing with victims and survivors is admirable; standing with liars is not. If anything, standing with proven liars hurts the cause, because it shows desperation on the part of a leading feminist organization to cling to the belief that women don’t lie about rape. It also sends a message to real victims that the truth doesn’t actually matter, and that liars deserve the same treatment as actual survivors. That seems to be more harmful to real victims than requesting documentation from a rape hoaxer.”[88]

Foreign Double Standards

Moreover, NOW has faced criticism for failing to address violence against women in the Middle East. In a 2015 article about feminist silence on systemic violence against women by the terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS), New York Post commentator Phyllis Chesler wrote, “pseudo-feminists are more concerned with racism than with sexism, and disproportionately focused on Western imperialism, colonialism and capitalism than on Islam’s long and ongoing history of imperialism, colonialism, anti-black racism, slavery, forced conversion and gender and religious apartheid.”[89]

Similarly NOW was criticized on the left-wing news site HuffPost for remaining mute on the subject of women’s rights in Gaza.[90] NOW did not issue any statements criticizing the United Nations’ 2015 decision to single out Israel for “women’s rights violations” even though the Palestinian Authority was committing “honor killings” of women on a nearly daily basis.[91]

People

In July 2017, NOW elected lobbyist Toni Van Pelt president of the organization, foundation, and PAC. Prior to joining NOW Van Pelt was co-founder, president, and public policy director for the Institute for Science and Human Values.[92]

Gilda Yazzie was elected vice president of NOW in July 2017.[93] Yazzie has been a member of the NOW national board since 2000.[94]

NOW’s has a 42-member national board of directors is comprised of NOW members from the group’s nine regions. The organization does not provide a current list of board members on its website, but as of 2015, NOW’s Board of Directors included Bonnie Grabenhofer, Chitra Panjabi, and NOW former presidents Patricia Ireland, and Eleanor Smeal.[95]

References

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    ^

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Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Toni Van Pelt
    President

Child Organizations

  1. Hollywood NOW (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1979

  • 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 $3,398,980 $3,340,004 $830,555 $355,008 N $3,293,734 $45,138 $46 $212,149
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,940,600 $2,646,779 $840,493 $514,022 N $2,859,119 $31,504 $50 $224,283 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $3,008,416 $3,006,830 $872,685 $840,035 N $2,916,175 $36,358 $50 $86,145 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,825,542 $2,828,624 $658,568 $627,504 N $2,675,278 $100,975 $59 $243,382 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,078,824 $2,522,646 $883,223 $849,077 N $2,997,217 $45,712 $169 $391,548 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,890,148 $2,192,125 $726,677 $1,248,709 N $2,823,783 $43,046 $407 $346,071 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $2,216,105 $1,979,371 $602,322 $1,822,377 N $2,194,119 $29,521 $16 $188,828 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    National Organization for Women (NOW)

    1100 H STREET NW 3RD FLOOR
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-5476