Non-profit

ReThink Media

Location:

WILMINGTON, DE

Tax ID:

46-2005479

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2014):

Revenue: $214,410
Expenses: $16,849
Assets: $266,975

Formation:

2008

Founders:

Peter Ferenbach

Lynn Fahselt

Executive Director:

Lynn Fahselt[58]

ReThink Media, founded in 2008, is a combination public relations firm, advocacy organization, and pass-through funding entity for left-of-center organizations. It uses messaging techniques through all forms of media to promote the left-of-center framing of issues related to national security, ethnic and religious minority interests, and left-of-center electoral legislation.

ReThink Media has three main issue “collaboratives.” The Peace and Security Collaborative focuses on cutting defense spending, eliminating nuclear weapons, and limiting drone warfare and surveillance programs. The Security and Rights Collaborative (SRC) works on expanding the political and social influence of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. The Strengthening Our Democracy Collaborative opposes voter identification laws, promotes automatic voter registration, works to eliminate corporate donations to election campaigns, and supports public financing of election campaigns.

ReThink receives funding from a number of prominent left-of-center foundation funders. The SRC is a joint venture with the Proteus Fund.

History

Peter Ferenbach and Lynn Fahselt founded ReThink Media in 2008 to help left-of-center organizations and individuals advocate a foreign policy that relies less on the military (with the goals of significantly cutting defense spending and eliminating nuclear weapons) and more on diplomacy and foreign aid spending. The Ploughshares Fund, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Colombe Foundation provided the initial funding.[1]

Fahselt “designed ReThink as a hybrid” of public relations and advocacy organizations.[2] The strategy has been to take control various debates, e.g. immigration, voter id laws, etc., by framing the message (e.g. “Voter id laws suppress minority voters”) using key words and images through polling, op-eds, letters to the editor, social media, ads, protests, and organized “town hall” demonstrations.[3] [4] [5] The goal is to change public opinion enough that politicians will enact more liberal legislation.

Public Relations and Advocacy

ReThink works with a variety of left-of-center organizations to maximize the reach and effectiveness of their messaging.[6] [7] It focuses on organizations that work toward disarming the United States; reducing American military spending; expanding the political and social influence of Arab and South Asian communities in America; opposing the Trump administration’s “travel ban”; tightening restrictions on campaign-related speech; and opposing voter identification legislation.

Rethink Media claims to have a highly developed capacity to influence public opinion using sophisticated communication techniques that employ the science of brain function, the subtle manipulation of language and emotion, and expert handling of social media change how people think about an issue.

ReThink associate Zainab Chaudary described some of these techniques at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s national convention in 2017. For example, words that appeal to left-of-center voters, such as “diversity” and “inclusivity,” do not work as well as words such as “respect,” “fairness,” and “dignity” in persuading a broader audience.[8] The Arms Control Association described how ReThink enabled it to structure a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum so that it could get its message out by giving its supporters an advantage in posting their questions, thus limiting questions from the general public.[9]

Clients and Projects

Peace and Security Team

The clients of the Peace and Security Team include, among others, the Stimson Center, Arms Control Association, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Global Zero, Peace Action, Win Without War, Diplomacy Works, and Women for Action in New Directions.[10]

One of ReThink Media’s earliest successes was the 2010 re-ratification of the New START arms limitation treaty with Russia. They sought to influence the votes of key senators with the strategic placement of op-eds in major newspapers published in the senators’ home states. They placed twice as many op-eds favoring the treaty in these newspapers than those opposed could.[11]

2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

One significant focus of ReThink has been support of the Iran nuclear deal (eventually known as the 2015 Iran P5+1 Nuclear Agreement). As early as 2011, Peter Ferenbach was considering the difficulty of selling the Iran nuclear deal to the American public, given Iran’s long history of nuclear development and support of terrorism.[12]

In their 2013/2014 grant cycle, the Ploughshares Fund—credited by Obama administration national security official Ben Rhodes with supporting an “echo chamber” of left-wing disarmament groups[13]–gave a $20,000 grant to ReThink “to amplify the voices of prominent former officials, military officers and experts in the Iran debate through targeted state and national media outreach.” In 2015, Ploughshares gave an additional $130,000 “for support of ReThink’s efforts to enhance the nuclear security NGO community’s media skills and capacity, and to effectively engage with the media and policymakers on the issues of the negotiated settlement of Iran’s nuclear program and US nuclear weapons programs.”[14] Before the final agreement was announced, ReThink provided an extensive list of resources and talking points for their allies to use in support of the Iran deal.[15]

After the deal was signed, then-Obama administration national security official Ben Rhodes told New York Times Magazine that the White House and Ploughshares had created an “echo chamber” of left-wing organizations—presumably including Ploughshares grant recipient ReThink Media—which advocated for the Iran nuclear deal.[16]

Cutting Defense Spending

ReThink has helped organizations working to move federal expenditures currently spent on defense to social welfare programs. They have provided fact sheets, talking points, and sample letters to the editor to organizations such as Budget for All, 2020 Action, and the American Friends Service Committee.[17] [18] [19]

Security and Rights Collaborative

Also see Proteus Fund (Nonprofit)

The Security and Rights Collaborative (SRC) is a Proteus Fund initiative with which ReThink partners to improve the image of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities and to expand their political and social influence.[20] The SRC acts as a pass-through funding entity for left-of-center groups representing these communities.[21] [22] The SRC works with, among others, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Sikh Coalition, the Muslim Community Network, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, and the Arab-American Association of New York.[23]

The SRC participates in workshops and webinars that teach how to use rhetoric to overcome what they see as negative stereotypes of Muslims.[24] [25] [26] ReThink and the SRC provide detailed instruction, including the use of very specific wording, on how to write pro-Muslim and pro-refugee letters-to-the-editor, op-eds and social media posts.[27] [28] The SRC also participates in teaching the use of Islamic art and culture to improve the image of Muslim communities. [29]

ReThink puts together damage-control fact sheets after radical Islamist terror attacks, such as those in Paris and at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. [30] [31] It has also organized a database of media-trained experts from Muslim communities called 8.5 Million. These speakers are available to journalists and other media professionals to discuss issues related to Muslims, as well as national defense, health care, pop culture, and domestic violence, from a Muslim perspective.[32]

ReThink partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Media Matters for America to produce a media “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” [33] The guide was heavily criticized when it was published for branding as extremist mainstream critics of Islamist political beliefs, most prominently Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.[34]

ReThink and the SRC have supported efforts to fight against what they see as “anti-Muslim” immigration policies. They established a website and supported a Twitter hashtag campaign opposing the Trump administration’s temporary ban on six Muslim-majority countries as a ban on Muslim immigration.[35] [36] ReThink published a list of resources people could use to “actively … fight” the “Muslim ban.”[37] ReThink also provided training for organizations protesting the travel ban.[38]

Campaign Regulation Programs

ReThink has two units that focus on election issues: the Money in Politics and Fair Courts Collaborative and the Strengthening Our Democracy Collaborative.[39] Rethink has worked with left-of-center groups like Common Cause, Rock the Vote, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, and the Campaign Legal Center.[40]

The Money in Politics and Fair Courts Collaborative primarily works on keeping business interests from full participation in the political process and replacing judicial elections with judicial appointments.[41] [42] Rethink has endorsed taxpayer financing of political campaigns. [43]  Rethink provides training through webinars and conferences on how to “shape the conversation,” engage the electorate, and get media coverage.[44] [45] [46]

The Strengthening Our Democracy Collaborative works on voting rights, specifically opposing voter identification laws and supporting automatic voter registration.[47] [48]

Leadership

Lynn Fahselt is the executive director and co-founder of ReThink.[49] She is also senior adviser to the Money in Politics and Fair Courts, Security and Rights Collaborative, and Peace and Security collaboratives. She has done a great deal of communications consulting for other advocacy groups and philanthropic foundations. She also helped found and lead California Peace Action (now named Peace Action West). [50]

Peter Ferenbach is the director of campaigns and co-founder of ReThink Media.[51]  Previously, he helped found and lead Friends of the River in Sacramento, California, and California Peace Action Now.[52]

Zainab Chaudary is senior media associate for SRC. The formerly worked for CAIR-New Jersey.[53]

Funders

ReThink Media was founded with initial funding by the Ploughshares Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Colombe Foundation, and the National Security and Human Rights Campaign, a funding entity associated with the Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) funded by George Soros and associated with the Atlantic Philanthropies.[54] ReThink has received additional funding from the Carnegie Corporation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund II, the Democracy Fund Voice, the Akonadi Foundation, and the Oak Foundation. [55] [56] [57]

References

  1. Jett, Dennis C. The Iran Nuclear Deal Bombs, Bureaucrats, and Billionaires. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2018.
  2. Lynn Fahselt.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/users/lynn-fahselt.
  3. Hoffman, John. “Take Control of the Message through a Media Frame: A Case Study in Cooperative Recasting.” Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly. August 16, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2013/01/30/take-control-of-the-message-through-a-media-frame-a-case-study-in-cooperative-recasting/.
  4. merican-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee National Convention, Media and Hate Crimes. C-Span. September 22, 2017.
  5. Karim, Elissa. “Week 1: Orienting to Washington D.C. – Cornell College.” Cornell Fellows. September 22, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2018. http://blogs.cornellcollege.edu/cornell-fellows/2016-2017/elissa-karim-18/week-1-orienting-washington-d-c/.
  6. ReThink Media. “Vote for ReThink Media Today!” Facebook. December 2017. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/ReThink.Media.Collaborative.Communications/videos/1623254257764272/.
  7. McGuire, Brendan. “Guest Post: How Global Zero Used Facebook Ads to Test Messages and Visuals for Its Newest Campaign.” Guest Post: How Global Zero Used Facebook Ads to Test Messages and Visuals for Its Newest Campaign | ReThink Media. June 29, 2017. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/blog/guest-post-how-global-zero-used-facebook-ads-test-messages-and-visuals-its-newest-campaign.
  8. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee National Convention, Media and Hate Crimes. C-Span. September 22, 2017.
  9. Fleming, Tony, and Shervin Taheran. “Guest Post: What the Arms Control Association Learned from Its First Reddit #AskMeAnything.” Guest Post: What the Arms Control Association Learned from Its First Reddit #AskMeAnything | ReThink Media, ReThink Media, 2 Dec. 2016, rethinkmedia.org/blog/guest-post-what-arms-control-association-learned-its-first-reddit-askmeanything.
  10. ReThink Media. “Vote for ReThink Media Today!” Facebook. December 2017. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/ReThink.Media.Collaborative.Communications/videos/1623254257764272/.
  11. Cirincione, Joseph. Impact Philanthropy: How Strategic Grants Can Help Change Strategic Policy. 2012. An essay part of a series of the Waldemar A. Nielsen 2012 Public Issue Forums in Global Philanthropy funded by a grant to the Center for Public and Non-Profit Leadership at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.
  12. Vadum, Matthew. Team Jihad: How Sharia-Supremacists Collaborate with Leftists to Destroy the United States. Washington, DC: Center for Security Policy, 2017.
  13. Samuels, David. “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.” New York Times Magazine. May 5, 2016. Accessed March 25, 2017. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html
  14. Maghami, Neil. “The White House’s Iran Treaty Echo Chamber.” Capital Research Center. October 12, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/iran-treaty-echo-chamber/.
  15. Israeli Nuclear/Security Experts on the Iran Deal.” Massachusetts Peace Action. 2015. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=DA8159A4723C456399EC46FC3C31E202&CID=230850A0EC946802096D5B1FED3B690D&rd=1&h=D6Ssdujg1EvVUUCJZhN5LWhktjPheln5hqrHyMcK4ms&v=1&r=http://masspeaceaction.org/home/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Israeli-Nuclear-Experts-APN-Jul30.pdf&p=DevEx,5068.1.
  16. Samuels, David. “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.” New York Times Magazine. May 5, 2016. Accessed March 25, 2017. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/magazine/the-aspiring-novelist-who-became-obamas-foreign-policy-guru.html.
  17. The People’s Budget.” The People’s Budget. 2013. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://budget4allmass.org/resources.
  18. ReThink Media, and National Priorities Project. “Letter-to-Editor on 2013 Defense Spending.” 2020 Action. 2012. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www.2020action.org/2012/09/letter-to-editor-on-2013-defense-spending.html.
  19. American Friends Service Committee. Invest in People, Not the Pentagon: AFSC Wage Peace Budget Action Kit 2013. 2102.
  20. Security and Rights.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/security-and-rights.

  21. About AMCLI.” USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences. 2018. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://crcc.usc.edu/events-and-training/amcli/about-amcli/.
  22. Security and Rights.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/security-and-rights.
  23. SRC Building an Inclusive Movement.” YouTube. November 24, 2014. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg1NzvlB7ow.
  24. Lewis, Carolyn. “Workshop Tackles Anti-immigrant, Anti-Muslim Movements.” Religion Communicators Council. April 1, 2017. Accessed April 02, 2018. http://www.religioncommunicators.org/workshop-tackles-anti-immigrant-anti-muslim-movements.
  25. Faith Over Fear: Empowering Faith Leaders to Combat Islamophobia.” Faith Over Fear. 2017. Accessed April 02, 2018. http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=dnfpslfab&oeidk=a07eeqqieu411011089.
  26. Webinar: Register for Shoulder to Shoulder’s Session on Anti-Muslim Bigotry.” Global Ministries. October 24, 2016. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.globalministries.org/webinar_register_for_shoulder_to_shoulder_s_session_on_anti_muslim_bigotry.
  27. Webinar: Messaging and the Media: How to Share Your Story With a Larger Audience. 2016. Information sheet on a webinar. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/IIC-Webinar-Announcement-5232016updated(1).pdf
  28. Matthew 25. Toolkit for Mobilizing to Protect and Support American Muslims. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/matthew25.toolkit.religiousliberty_0.pdf
  29. Participants.” THE ROLES OF ARTS CULTURE IN ADDRESSING ISLAMOPHOBIA. 2017. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://wp.nyu.edu/islamophobia/participants/.
  30. Latest Updates and Resources following Paris Attacks 11/13.” ReThink Media. November 13, 2015. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/resource/latest-updates-and-resources-following-paris-attacks-1113?authkey=beb74b9231a776cca245de9003758e0c2c2679840d1f57d35483b0a05d1be350.
  31. Chaudary, Zainab. “Orlando Shooting: Talking Points and Resources.” ReThink Media. June 12, 2016. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/resource/orlando-shooting-talking-points-and-resources?authkey=a689e25e8a90e4c5e7853f1bad811dce3191d1be92f7477e647b7981c94ff10d.
  32. About.” 8.5 Million. 2018. Accessed April 02, 2017. https://eightpointfivemillion.org/about.
  33. Suen, Brennan. “Media Matters And Civil Rights Groups Release Media “Field Guide To Anti-Muslim Extremists”.” Media Matters for America. October 27, 2016. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/10/27/media-matters-and-civil-rights-groups-release-media-field-guide-anti-muslim-extremists/214150.
  34. A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” Southern Poverty Law Center. 2016. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.splcenter.org/20161025/journalists-manual-field-guide-anti-muslim-extremists.
  35. ReThink Media. “Support Communities of Color, Immigrants, and Refugees.” #NoBanNoWallNoRaids. 2017. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://nobannowallnoraids.wordpress.com/.
  36. About.” No Muslim Ban Ever. 2017. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.nomuslimbanever.com/home#about.
  37. ReThink Media. United Against the Muslim Ban, ReThink Media, 2017, www.unitedagainstmuslimban.com/.
  38. ReThink Media, et al. “The Plan Against the Muslim Ban.” Faith in Public Life, 2017, www.faithinpubliclife.org/training-archives?p=17737. Training webinar for resisting the “Muslim Ban”
  39. Democracy.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 03, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/democracy.
  40. SRC Building an Inclusive Movement.” YouTube. November 24, 2014. Accessed April 02, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg1NzvlB7ow.
  41. Democracy.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 03, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/democracy.
  42. Velasco, Eric. Fair Courts Toolkit: Criminal Justice. Published by the Piper Fund with assistance from ReThink Media
  43. Creighton, Tyler. “Democracy Vouchers Elevate the Voices of Grassroots Candidates and Everyday People in Seattle.” ReThink Media. August 18, 2017. Accessed April 03, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/resource/democracy-vouchers-elevate-voices-grassroots-candidates-and-everyday-people-seattle.
  44. Unrig the System Summit Agenda.” Unrig the System Summit. 2017. Accessed April 04, 2018. https://unrigsummit.com/unrig-system-summit-agenda/.
  45. Budget Working Group.” GIST, Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce. 2016. Accessed April 04, 2018. http://www.gistfunders.org/budgetworkinggroup.php.
  46. Conference Agenda.” Common Cause. 2016. Accessed April 04, 2018. http://www.commoncause.org/democracy-wire/blueprint-2016-conference-agenda.html.
  47. ReThink Democracy. October 17, 2017. Twitter Post.
  48. Harvey, Grace. “#RespectMyVote Social Toolkit.” ReThink Media. September 11, 2017. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/resource/respectmyvote-social-toolkit.
  49. ReThink Media, Inc., Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2015.
  50. Fahselt, Lynn. “Lynn Fahselt.” LinkedIn. 2018. Accessed April 6, 2018.
  51. “The Core ReThink Media Team.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/team/core.
  52. Ferenbach, Peter. “Peter Ferenbach.” LinkeIn. 2018. Accessed April 9, 2018.
  53. Zainab Chaudary.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/users/zainab-chaudary.
  54. “Open Letter from the National Security and Human Rights Campaign.” Open Society Foundations. December 15, 2008. Accessed April 16, 2018. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/open-letter-national-security-and-human-rights-campaign.
  55. Peace and Security.” ReThink Media. 2018. Accessed April 09, 2018. https://rethinkmedia.org/peace-and-security.
  56. Nomani, Asra. “Stop the Hysterics over ‘Muslim Ban 2’.” TheHill. March 08, 2017. Accessed April 09, 2018. http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/homeland-security/322795-stop-the-hysterics-over-muslim-ban-2. Harris, Jessica. “Faith and Public Dialogue.” Democracy Fund Voice. August 16, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2018. http://democracyfundvoice.org/tag/faith/.
  57. IST/GCYF/GIH Communications Collaborative. GIST/GCYF/GIH Communications Collaborative Overview of Communications Hubs. February 2015. http://www.gistfunders.org/documents/ComHubSummary_Feb2015.pdf
  58. ReThink Media, Inc., Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2015.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2014

  • 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
    2014 Dec Form 990 $214,410 $16,849 $266,975 $69,414 N $214,410 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    ReThink Media

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