About It Starts Today
For decades, the Democratic party has focused on the handful of swing districts they thought were “winnable.”
This is important, but it’s not enough — because of this strategy, the Democratic nominee in hundreds of Congressional and thousands of state legislative districts is just a name on a ballot, abandoned and unable to spread a message about common-sense policies to the people who need to hear about them most. Activists in those districts are left without a cause to rally around, and voters are left without a real choice.
We can change that.
Jonathan Zucker Founder
Jonathan Zucker was the first COO and second CEO of ActBlue. Prior to that, he served the DNC as National Director of Operations for Finance during the 2003-2004 presidential cycle. More recently, he has founded or advised several political tech start-ups, including Democracy Engine, ruck.us, and Crowdpac. LinkedIn Profile
Michele Hornish Executive Director
Michele Hornish is a St. Louis resident and the founder of the political action site Small Deeds Done. A lawyer by training, Michele clerked for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and was the Associate General Counsel for the Illinois State Treasurer. She is also a certified mediator and mediation trainer for the Chicago Center for Conflict Resolution. LinkedIn Profile
WHAT IS IT STARTS TODAY?
It Starts Today is our way of crowdsourcing support for Democratic congressional candidates. We recognized that the Resistance has become an insurmountable force by helping people take regular, small steps – the effects of which are amplified because of the vast numbers of people taking them. We do that same thing – except with monthly donations that will be split among Democratic nominees for House or Senate. So, really we’re just taking what’s already worked for the movement to oppose the Trump/McConnell agenda and applying it to fundraising for the Democratic candidates.
If you want to read more about our story and how we came up with the idea, check out our article in Daily Kos!
On the technical side, It Starts Today is a political committee, incorporated as a nonprofit in Delaware and registered with the Federal Election Commission as a non-connected PAC. All contributions to It Starts Today and all of our expenditures are reported to the FEC quarterly and publicly disclosed on their website
ARE YOU WORKING AT THE STATE LEVEL?
Glad you asked! We firmly believe that state legislatures are as, if not more, important than the US Congress. However, while there is only one Congress, there are 50 state legislatures with 50 different sets of laws. We’ve solved the legal issues, but deploying 50 state platforms is going to take us time. We’ve gotten started, however, and you can find our first State Legislative effort—funding every state legislative seat in Missouri–right here
HOW DOES IT STARTS TODAY WORK?
In a nutshell: It Starts Today is an organization that uses a sophisticated understanding of technology and campaign finance law to enable low dollar recurring donations to directly fund Democratic nominees for elected office; we let you start giving Today to nominees that won’t be chosen until Democratic primaries that are often years away. At the federal level, It Starts Today is an organization that specializes in “earmarking,” we hold your donation until the relevant nominees are selected by the party primary in their state. Then we send them the money.
In more legalistic terms (for the lawyers and campaign finance geeks out there): at the federal level, the funds you donate via our website are contributions to It Starts Today that are then designated (“earmarked” in campaign finance regulation-speak) for specific purposes. The most simple contributions are earmarked for the Democratic nominees of a House district or Senate seat in their next general election in accordance with FEC Advisory Opinion 1982-23. More complex projects, such as our Congressional project, rely on more recent Advisory Opinions, such as one we requested, AO 2019-01 (It Starts Today). At the state level, we use a variety of strategies that conform to the myriad variations in campaign finance law found at the state level, but rest assured that in each state we have adopted a legal framework that both complies with the law and accomplishes our goal of enabling grassroots recurring donors to directly funds Democratic nominees who are likely unknown when they start their giving cycle.
Donations to support and market this organization are contributions to It Starts Today, a nonprofit federal PAC, or our state PAC in the state for which the program is operating.
WHEN WILL THE NOMINEES GET MY MONEY?
It Starts Today will hold onto your donations in accordance with the terms of each program. For our Presidential project, we hold these funds until a candidate secures enough pledged delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention; that usually happens between March and June of a presidential election year (but before the Convention itself). For our Congressional project, which is intended to provide a boost to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts in each race, we distribute those funds to the Democratic nominees in close House and Senate races every October 1 of an election year. In the states, we generally start distributing funds after the party primary, but sometimes (for districts with only one Democrat running), can start funding them right after the filing deadline. And then it all starts over for the next election cycle.
All donations—along with all disbursements—are reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or the appropriate State campaign finance regulator. Reporting is monthly at the federal level and usually quarterly in the states and the FEC and state regulators make all reports available online, so you can always check on your donations and our distributions.
WHAT ABOUT FEES?
First off, 100% of your donations will go to the candidates – so if you’re donating $5.00, that’s exactly what you’re donating. That’s different from other entities like ActBlue that deduct credit card processing fees from the candidate. So the candidate is getting less than you intended! Not with It Starts Today – 100% of your donation goes exactly where you intended it to.
But, just like everyone else (like ActBlue, Kickstarter and PayPal), we have to cover processing fees. Our processor is Democracy Engine, LLC, which happens to be the processor founded by the founder of It Starts Today. Democracy Engine charges you a lower percentage than other sites. While ActBlue collects 3.95% and Kickstarter keeps 5% on top of processing fees, Democracy Engine collects a 3.75% + $0.20 processing fee. Democracy Engine charges you low rates and has the services we need. So we’re happy to work with them in our effort to crowdsource democracy and make the country – and world – a better place.
All “tips” to It Starts Today itself go to a nonprofit PAC and will be spent building this concept into a movement.
WHEN WILL MY SUBSCRIPTION END?
Your subscription will be charged monthly until until you tell us to stop. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time if you want to end it. We’re very approachable.
ARE YOU PART OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?
Nope. It Starts Today is independent. While we support the efforts of the collection of national, state, and local organizations that make up the Democratic Party, we do not coordinate with them, and we have only one goal: break radical Republican control.
If you have a question you don’t see answered here, drop us a note at email@example.com. We’re very approachable, really.