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Organizing for Action Tries To Guilt Members Into Donating

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, April 1 2013

President Obama's advocacy group Organizing for Action stepped up its campaign to raise money online last week by blasting the subscribers of its e-mail list at least seven times over the course of five days asking them to become "Founding Members."

Though the group could accept money at any time from supporters, OFA imposed a quarterly fundraising deadline for itself of March 31st, and sent out e-mail to subscribers of its list trying to guilt them into giving.

"At midnight, we'll be closing out Organizing for Action's very first fundraising deadline. Once that happens, your name will either be in the books, or it won't," reads a note from "Organizing for action" sent out Sunday night. The e-mail then tells recipients what OFA's database shows about the recipient's donation history.

It was just one of several others from OFA's Executive Director Jon Carson and Chairman Jim Messina. A previous note from Carson played on recipients' sense of history, and the significance of OFA's sense of purpose.

"No one has ever done what we're trying to do: restore the balance of power to ordinary people by countering the special-interest groups with the most powerful grassroots movement ever built," he wrote on March 27th.

Another note from Messina on the same day played on recipients' sense of outrage, telling them that OFA needs financial support because the President's agenda is facing deep-pocketed opposition from those opposing immigration reform and gun control.

Messina sent out this note regardless of the news last week that OFA itself is seeking to create a tiered "board of trustees" that includes a 10-person council of "leaders in industry" who will be expected to raise large amounts of money for the group.

While the guilt-trip e-mail might work on some supporters, it sometimes backfires. For example, this reporter received an angry phone call from a friend last year when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a similar e-mail. This friend did not like the idea of being tracked, and wanted to share her own outrage over the idea of having her donations (or lack thereof) being presented to her. Instead of giving, she signed off the list and tuned out from the DCCC completely.