I got an email from Adam Lynn, a researcher at Free Press, which I’m including below. I’d encourage you to click here to give a little love this holiday season. Give once or sign up to give monthly.
Free Press is a super-effective advocacy group fighting for an open and universal Internet, better journalism, and more local media. They’re one of the more influential little groups you’ve never heard of. Here’s a Washington Post article about its policy director. Here’s a story about one of Free Press’s more well-known, high-impact cases (which I worked on while working at Free Press).
Free Press takes no money from corporations–just foundations and individuals like you. And it’s stocked with committed, brilliant, hard-working folks. They’re very impressive. Adam Lynn, for example, is an amazing researcher, who proved himself to me as worth dozens of highly-paid white shoe lawyers charging $300/hr.
And Free Press is no frills–your money goes to (modest) salaries, not mahogany boardroom tables. A top corporate lobbyist once came to the Free Press offices to negotiate something and asked, “All your legal filings and research papers, and just this small office… with Ikea furniture?”
May I suggest three formulas for how much you should give.
1. Imagine the corporate lawyers and lobbyists hired to fight Free Press and to undermine your consumer and citizen rights. Send to Free Press enough money to cover one hour of one lawyer’s time. That could be between $250 and $700.
2. Follow these tips by Adam for reducing your cable bill. Whatever you save for one year, send half to Free Press. If you save $50 a month ($600 a year), send $300; if you save $100 a month, send $600. (Read the tips either way, even if you want all the savings.)
3. Cancel your cable bill altogether, and watch HD sports over the air and supplement with online TV like Netflix and AppleTV. According to the NYT, that could save you $1,600 a year. Send just one year of those savings over to Free Press, which is fighting to ensure your ability to watch online TV.
Or, without a formula, just send $50. It’ll go to good use.
Here is the email.
Hello Friends and Family,
As most if not all of you are aware, I work for a non-partisan, non-profit consumer advocacy group called Free Press. I’ve been with them for more than three years now. We hit a bit of rough patch this year. As I’m sure many of you have. This is partly due to the fact that we accept no money from companies and thus maintain complete independence on these issues. A fact that is increasingly rare amongst non-profits, especially those working in DC. In an effort to remedy this situation, everyone at Free Press is asking our personal networks to support them. I’m hoping you can help by donating. Let me just first say that similar to my work, I don’t take this request lightly. This isn’t going towards first class travel, new office accommodations or anything like that. This money will be used to pay my modest salary. (If you like me so much you don’t want to read anymore, just head here: http://bit.ly/7jS2a4)
Let me also say, I love what I do. I believe in these issues we work on to my core. I could spends hours talking to you about why your cable bill is too high, why you pay too much for Internet access, why you have only two choices for high-speed Internet or why your cell phone provider should be paying you to text message. Ever since I came upon these issues in 2003, I have breathed them. I think about them in the shower, I dream about them. The federal policies that surround tv, radio and the Internet have shaped the world we live in. Unfortunately, all too often these decisions are made hidden and without the public’s knowledge or consent. This is what I work to change. My job, in a nutshell, is the collection of knowledge. I research, develop and compile every fact I can to illustrate the reality for consumers. I then write filings to regulatory agencies and offer consumer’s side of the story. Many times these filings are the only consumer voice in these otherwise industry dominated federal proceedings. You will not find them reported by any news outlet but they have a direct effect on your life (not to mention your back account). My coworkers then take this information I compiled, boil it down and get it out to the public. When appropriate, we email our supporters and ask them to file a brief comment as well and further bolster our case.
We currently have an opportunity to make some serious positive improvements to the communication landscape. The next year will be a critical time in my world. I will be right in the middle of it, taking on 100 billion dollar companies and trillion dollar industries. They will always have more money to spend but believe me, they’re worried and spending tons to make sure I don’t succeed. When I submit a filing they spend anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000 employing lawyers to respond and many times their attempts are weak. The reason behind this is simple, I am simply illustrating reality. As Ghandi said “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
We are on the cusp. As friends and family, I hope you can donate something to this cause, my passion and what I believe to be our future. I can absolutely promise you that I will put every dollar to good use. I am enormously grateful for anything you can provide. If times are just too tough for you, please consider passing this along to others you may know who might be interested in supporting my work. Also, a generous donor has offered to match any donations made by Dec. 31. You can donate here: http://bit.ly/7jS2a4
Thanks for hearing me outAdam
P.S. I should mention that these donations go to the Free Press Action Fund, our lobbying arm and are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions or as business expenses under IRC §162(e). I would argue this is the money that is put to best use because it is used right at the heart of the problem.