Non-profit

SumofUs

Website:

sumofus.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

45-2513966

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $4,637,815
Expenses: $4,977,788
Assets: $1,959,541

Type:

Left-Wing Advocacy Group

SumOfUs is an environmentalist organization which pressures businesses to adopt left-of-center policies on the environment and animal liberation. It is also involved in other left-leaning issues such as pro-abortion advocacy, support for gun control, and pro-Palestinian activism.

Funding

In 2017, SumOfUs reported receiving $5.4 million in grants and contributions. [1]

SumOfUs provided over $220,000 in grants in 2017. [2] The grants went to diverse causes such as “reproductive work,” “bee pesticides,” “against sexism,” “plastic pollution,” and “racism in India.” [3]

SumOfUs declares that it has “partnerships” with the Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation, and Media Democracy Fund, among many other non-profit and NGO organizations. [4] Media Democracy Fund gave SumOfUs a grant in 2014. [5] The Chorus Foundation gave $90,000 from 2012 to 2014. [6] The Tides Foundation has made several six-figure grants to SumOfUs. [7]

Campaigns

SumOfUs’ campaigns are largely focused on changing business practices to align with left-wing ideology. [8]

Glyphosate

SumOfUs worked with allies to pressure European Union nations to not allow agricultural technology company Monsanto to renew the company’s license to use the pesticide glyphosate. While SumOfUs claims it blocked the renewed licensing, the EU approved Monsanto for a new five-year license in 2017. [9]

Bayer-Monsanto Merger

SumOfUs claims it helped stop the European Commission—the European Union’s executive arm–from approving the massive Bayer/Monsanto merger. Instead, the EU “launched an investigation” and the EU Commissioner “responded to our members directly,” reports SumOfUs.

The merger was ultimately approved in 2018. [10]

Bee Protection

A major SumOfUs initiative is opposing pesticides which it claims harm bees. A fundraising letter in support of the EU’s ban on certain pesticides except for emergency situations urges supporters to donate to help the Bee Defenders Alliance. [11]

SumOfUs also has a petition campaign to pressure the EU to study the effects of pesticides which environmentalist activists say kill bees. [12]

Shortly after the EU banned certain pesticides in 2018, SumOfUs launched a petition urging Australia to crack down on pesticides. [13]

Palm Oil

Like its ally Rainforest Action Network, SumOfUs opposes palm oil production. SumOfUs and its allies gathered 650,000 signatures before a European Commission vote in early 2019 on whether to ban subsidies for palm oil used in automobile fuel. The Commission issued the ban on subsidies due to deforestation concerns. A Forbes contributor concluded the ban will phase out palm oil in the EU, though Malaysia and Indonesia may challenge the ban. [14]

Other Issues

SumOfUs has engaged in several petition campaigns to pressure eBay, Visa, and WalMart to restrict consumer access to firearms. [15] [16][17] It also urged several corporations – including Apple, Google, and Amazon – to stop funding the National Rifle Association’s television station. [18]

SumOfUs also Tweeted in favor of legalized abortion in Ireland in May 2018. [19]

SumOfUs petitioned Mastercard shareholders to force the company to vote on a proposal to better track funds from white supremacy and other extremist groups. As of May 15, 2019, a proposal was being developed ahead of Mastercard’s June annual meeting. [20]

SumOfUs Tweeted on May 15, 2019 that Airbnb was opposed to Palestinian rights in Israel by allowing its platform to be used for property rentals on certain Israeli land which previously belonged to Palestinians. [21]

Other Activities

Progressive Style Guide

SumOfUs produced a “Progressive Style Guide” in 2016 as a tactical document for left-leaning activists to use as a word choice resource. [22] The Guide examined issues of race, policing, abortion, immigration, disabilities, and more.

Reactions to News Events

SumOfUs also issued a number of statements regarding shareholder votes for major corporations in the spring of 2019. Many of its press statements in 2019 through May 15 are reactions to news, not statements about SumOfUs’ own initiatives, programs, or campaigns. [23]

Criticism

SumOfUs has received criticism for its activism. Former EU risk and science communications specialist David Zaruk criticized the group for taking an anti-science approach to pesticides in one of its campaigns in Germany. [24] Likewise, a column at the Canadian publication Financial Post accused the group of acting in an unscientific fashion to accomplish oil and gas-related organizational goals. [25]

The far-left anti-capitalist blog Wrong Kind of Green has critiqued SumOfUs for allegedly supporting capitalism by encouraging corporations to be more environmentally friendly instead of trying to tear down the corporations themselves. [26]

Leadership

Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman was founding executive director of SumOfUs from 2011 to 2016. She left to work for MoveOn.org and as of May 2019 has since joined Change.org. [27]

The chairman and treasurer of SumOfUs’ board of directors is Tate Hausman. Hausman is a former MoveOn.org managing director and has been involved in many left-leaning political campaigns and causes. He is the founding Board Chair of SumOfUs. [28]

Hannah Lownsbrough is executive director of SumOfUs. She made $141,630 in 2017, and is also a Board Member of the LGBT activist group AllOut. [29]

References

  1. SumofUs, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part I Line 8
  2. SumOfUs, 2017 990, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/images/funding/2017_990_SumOfUs.pdf
  3. SumOfUs, 2017 990, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/images/funding/2017_990_SumOfUs.pdf
  4. SumOfUs, How We’re Funded, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/about/funding/
  5. Media Democracy Fund, Grants List, Accessed May 15, 2019. http://mediademocracyfund.org/grants-list/
  6. Chorus Foundation, SumOfUs, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://chorusfoundation.org/what-we-fund/sumofus/
  7. Data compiled by FoundationSearch subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc. from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted May 30, 2019.
  8. SumOfUs, How We’re Funded, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/about/funding/
  9. Arthur Nelsen, “Controversial glyphosate weedkiller wins new five-year lease in Europe,” November 27, 2019. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/27/controversial-glyphosate-weedkiller-wins-new-five-year-lease-in-europe
  10. Simon Marks and Nicholas Hirst, “5 takeaways from EU green light for ‘Baysanto’ mega-merger,” March 21, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.politico.eu/article/5-takeaways-from-eu-green-light-for-bayer-monsanto-agribusiness-glyphosate-mega-merger/
  11. Claire Stam, “EU Commission to crack down on recalcitrant member states over neonicotinoids,” February 26, 2019. Accessed May 16, 2019. https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/eu-commission-to-crack-down-on-recalcitrant-member-states-over-neonicotinoids/[/note] [note]SumOfUs, “Keep the bee defenders’ fight to save the bees going,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/keep-the-bee-defenders-fight-to-save-the-bees-going?source=campaigns
  12. SumOfUs, “Save the bees! Stop ignoring fatal risks to bees when licensing pesticides,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/save-the-bees-stop-approving-bee-harming-pesticides?source=campaigns
  13. SumOfUs, “Tell the Australian government to protect the bees from pesticide giants,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/tell-the-australian-government-to-protect-the-bees-from-pesticide-giants?source=campaigns
  14. Dave Keating, “EU labels biofuel from palm oil as sustainable, bans subsidies,” March 14, 2019. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davekeating/2019/03/14/eu-labels-biofuel-from-palm-oil-as-unsustainable-bans-subsidies/#2526b9c49c9d
  15. SumOfUs, “Deadly gun modifications are a click away on eBay,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/ebay-deadly-gun-accessories
  16. SumOfUs, “Visa, help stop the next mass shooting,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/visa-help-stop-the-next-mass-shooting
  17. SumOfUs, “Sign our petition to Walmart now!” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/walmart-guns
  18. SumOfUs, “Stop streaming NRATV’s dangerous rhetoric,” Accessed May 15, 2019. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/nratv-streaming-services
  19. SumOfUs, Tweet, May 8, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://twitter.com/SumOfUs/status/993809738205773824
  20. Mark Distefano, “Activists are trying to force Mastercard to cut off payments to the far right,” May 1, 2019. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/mastercard-activists-cut-off-donations-far-right
  21. SumOfUs, Tweet, May 15, 2019. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://twitter.com/SumOfUs/status/1128691803631366144
  22. SumOfUs, “A progressive style guide,” 2016. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.sumofus.org/images/SUMOFUS_PROGRESSIVE-STYLEGUIDE.pdf
  23. SumOfUs, Press, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/media/
  24. Risk Monger, “How SumOfUs manipulate and deceive vulnerable people,” July 2, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2019.

    https://risk-monger.com/2018/07/02/how-sumofus-manipulate-and-deceive-vulnerable-people/

  25. Vivian Krause, “SumOfUs is the same old tar sands campaigner,” June 9, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/its-the-same-old-tar-sands-campaigner
  26. Wrong kind of green, “SumOfUs are corporate whores/Some of us are not,” March 28, 2012. Accessed May 15, 2019. http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/03/28/sumofus-are-corporate-whores-some-of-us-are-not/
  27. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, LinkedIn, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/taren-stinebrickner-kauffman-953b9831/
  28. SumOfUs, Board, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.sumofus.org/about/board/
  29. Hannah Lownsbrough, LinkedIn, Accessed May 15, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-lownsbrough-4b9447b/?originalSubdomain=uk
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2013

  • 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 $4,637,815 $4,977,788 $1,959,541 $307,143 N $4,482,704 $155,000 $1,200 $336,345
    2015 Dec Form 990 $4,857,359 $4,765,579 $2,302,368 $310,131 N $4,841,432 $13,223 $1,197 $252,476 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $4,426,005 $3,230,875 $2,109,426 $208,423 N $4,404,186 $13,266 $0 $202,536
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,068,606 $1,587,744 $961,899 $256,026 N $1,860,606 $208,000 $0 $82,163 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $891,995 $761,230 $325,938 $100,927 N $886,995 $5,000 $0 $68,854 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990EZ $143,700 $43,621 $106,079 $6,000 $0 $0 $0 $0

    SumofUs

    PO BOX 1128
    NEW YORK, NY 10156-1128