Pissed Off About Something? Here $15,000 To Start An Activism Team

By Ben Schiller

If you’re feeling angry about the issues of the day–from Trump’s immigration ban to moves to skirt internet privacy–here’s a new, more productive way to vent: Get paid to set up an activist group.

The nonprofit Fight for the Future, which works on keeping the internet free and open, recently announced a campaign to start “A-Teams” (Activism Teams). It’s prepared to offer $15,000 for a month’s startup capital. And it’s enlisting non-traditional types, including journalists, lawyers, advertisers, therapists, nurses, and designers.

“There are incubators and accelerators that every year fund companies that change the world. We want to do something like that for activism,” co-founder Holmes Wilson tells Fast Company.

[Illustration: Mike_Kiev/iStock]

Fight for the Future has organized some of the internet’s most successful campaigns. In 2012, it helped strike down two bills in Congress–the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP (intellectual property) Act (PIPA)–that activists say would have increased web censorship. Then, in 2014, its Battle for the Net campaign helped persuade four million people to contact the Federal Communications Commission to express support for new net neutrality rules.

Now Fight for the Future wants to tap into heightened post-election feeling. “I think a lot of people are reflecting deeply on their careers and thinking about making major life moves,” Holmes says. “I see that in my personal network and out there on the internet, and it’s pretty clearly a response to the election.”

Judged by the initial response to the campaign, there are plenty of willing activists out there. Holmes says he’s received 2,200 applications since posting the campaign page on March 16. “It’s really gone viral and we’ve only sent this to a small part of our [mailing] list,” he says.

Exactly how the A-Teams will be composed and organized is still open for discussion. But Holmes suggests teams of two to three full-time people. Fight for the Future currently has funds for up to three-month-long trials. But it hopes to raise more money and set up further groups. If the A-Teams prove successful during the initial period, Holmes says the organization can keep funding going for 18 months or more, while they build up their own network of donors. After that, the teams will hopefully have a “track record” of impactful campaigns making fundraising easier.

Applicants can choose what they want to campaign about, but Fight for the Future’s campaign page suggests issues like climate change, Trump’s wall, police reform, “ending the drug war,” and economic populism. Anti-campaigns are probably more likely than pro-reform campaigns, because they tend to be less challenging.

“It’s between 10 and 100 times easier to stop something than make it happen,” Holmes says. “That said, stopping things is a good power to have. There are aspects of the world that are working very well. If you’re having a political movement attacking that, and you can stop that [movement], you can make the world better.”

Fast Company