At Food & Water Watch, we’re about winning real changes that will improve people’s lives. We take on ambitious efforts to ban fracking, to stop oil and gas pipelines, to uphold strong food safety standards, and to make an urgent shift to renewable energy – and often, with the help of many hard-working supporters like you, we win. We hold onto our convictions even when they’re controversial. Even in the most difficult political climate, we fight for what we want, not just the best we can get.
While there are many factors in a successful campaign, one of the key reasons we’re able to act so boldly is because we don’t take donations from the government or from corporations.
Corporate Dollars Fuel the Environmental Movement
You might not think about it when you donate, but many nonprofits, including some of the largest environmental organizations, raise a substantial amount of money from corporate donors and sponsors. There’s a reason for that: in order to pay their staff and even keep the lights on, nonprofits have to find funding, which is always in short supply. For too many, corporations are just one more source of revenue.
But when we founded Food & Water Watch ten years ago, we made a decision to take a different path. We made it our firm policy never to accept donations from corporations. Instead, we rely on donations from individual donors – people like you!
Much in the way campaign donors can “buy” undue influence over an elected official, corporations can use their donations to influence a nonprofit’s mission. Our mission is to champion healthy food and clean water for all by standing up to corporations that put profits over people. Accepting corporate contributions would compromise that mission in serious ways:
- A nonprofit that takes corporate donations might take weaker stances on certain issues, for fear of upsetting its corporate donors. We’ll never water down our positions.
- A nonprofit is less likely to call out a corporate donor for their bad practices. (The same is true of elected officials who might support government funding for the nonprofit, or support them in other ways.) We hold all corporations and elected officials accountable to do the right thing.
- Supporting a nonprofit might allow a corporation to “greenwash” its public image by touting its support for environmental organizations, while giving it cover to continue or expand the harmful practices that the nonprofit opposes. We won’t give Monsanto, ExxonMobil, Nestlé, or any of the corporations attempting to control our food and water that kind of opening.
- If one of the nonprofit’s campaigns or positions directly impacted a corporate donor’s bottom line, and the corporation “suggested” that the nonprofit change its stance, that puts the nonprofit in an uncomfortable position. We fight for what’s right for people, not what makes corporations happy.
Corporations will have an unprecedented amount of power in the Trump Administration – which makes the independence of organizations like Food & Water Watch more important than ever.
Our Independence Maximizes Our Impact
Much of our work in the past ten years wouldn’t have been possible if we took corporate donations. For example, Food & Water Watch was the first national organization to call for an uncompromising ban on fracking – not stronger regulation, not a temporary halt, but a ban. That was a lonely position to hold at the time, but it’s proven to be the right one. It took years of hard work to ban fracking in New York, and at first, no other national groups thought that was possible – but in 2014, we did it. And we’re still winning. On Election Day 2016, voters banned fracking in Monterey County, California; our campaign succeeded there, in partnership with local groups, despite massive, well-funded corporate opposition. Today, more green groups have come around to the need for a ban, but others still have not, and there is a clear connection between some organizations’ stances and the contributions they receive from the oil and gas industry.
I’m proud of Food & Water Watch’s independence from corporate donors. It’s a key piece of what we stand for, and we couldn’t otherwise do our critical work to stand up to corporations like Monsanto and ExxonMobil. However, that means that we particularly depend on people like you – individual donors who step up and support the important fights to protect food and water everywhere. You can help us stand tall in our independence by donating today.