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Racial Justice Groups Flooded With Millions in Donations in Wake of Floyd Death

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The killing of George Floyd and the ensuing nationwide wave of protests are generating a record-setting flood of donations to racial justice groups, bail funds and black-led advocacy organizations across America, remaking the financial landscape of black political activism in a matter of weeks.

Money has come in so fast and so unexpectedly that some groups even began to turn away and redirect donors elsewhere. Others said they still could not yet account for how much had arrived. A deluge of online donations has washed over organizations big and small — from legacy civil rights groups to self-declared abolitionists seeking to defund the police.  

Black leaders and activists said it was a landmark moment in which a multiracial coalition protesting systemic racism and police brutality not only marched together, showed solidarity on social media and drove books about racism up the best-seller charts but also opened their wallets — especially during a pandemic that has driven 40 million people from their jobs and created one of the sharpest economic downturns in American history.

“To see millions of people give millions of dollars creates hope out of this moment,” said Glynda C. Carr, the president of Higher Heights, a group dedicated to building the political power of black women and which saw a spike of 15,000 donations in two weeks — about 10 times more than usual. “In the end, not everybody went out and protested,” she said. “This was a way to participate.”

ActBlue, the leading site to process online donations for Democratic causes and campaigns, has experienced its busiest period since its founding in 2004, far surpassing even the highest peaks of the 2020 presidential primary season. (ActBlue confirmed that racial justice causes and bail funds had led the way.) The site’s four biggest days ever came consecutively this month as it processed more than $250 million to various progressive causes and candidates in two-plus weeks, according to a New York Times analysis of the site’s donation ticker.

And on June 2, the collective action day that was known as Blackout Tuesday, ActBlue doubled what had been, before this month, its one-day record: raising $41 million in 24 hours.

“Is it a moment or is it a movement? I’m feeling like it’s a movement,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. “It’s organic and spontaneous and global.”

At the forefront of the giving wave were bail funds, as millions of Americans spontaneously gave money to ensure that any protesters who were arrested in clashes with the police got out of jail quickly. Leaders of two national networks said bail funds had received a combined $90 million over two weeks — an astonishingly large sum for a cause that had operated at the periphery of politics only recently.

Some of the leading black and racial justice groups declined to comment on the scope of their windfalls, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, whose name became a national rallying cry.

“This is a watershed moment for all black-led organizing groups,” said Kailee Scales, managing director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, who did reveal that one of her group’s online petitions alone had raised $5 million. “It is the moment when our allies and individuals have joined our call for justice.” It is also, she added, a time of “mixed emotions,” after the killing of Mr. Floyd and other black Americans that had “brought people around the globe to their knees.”

Another person familiar with the group’s fund-raising said that it had raised $10 million just on Blackout Tuesday; Ms. Scales declined to comment on that figure.

Few expect the largess to last. As the protesters recede, so too will the donations, leaders predicted. But group after group now has a far larger base of supporters to draw upon for donations going forward. Several black leaders brushed aside concerns that the sudden influx of funds might be squandered, especially by undersized groups suddenly flush with cash, because the needs are so big.

“Black-led nonprofits and civil rights nonprofits — we’re all stretched against the world we’re supposed to fix and the issues we’ve been involved in and sometimes the people we’re up against,” Mr. Morial said.

Color of Change, which already promoted itself as the largest online racial justice group in the country, quadrupled its membership from 1.7 million to 7 million people in recent days.

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change’s president, said the group had received “hundreds of thousands of individual donations” — far more than any previous period — and called it a “rallying cry for us to grow and continue the work.”

Despite a policy of not taking corporate donations, so much unsolicited corporate money poured into Color of Change’s accounts in recent days that the group’s board is still trying to tally up the totals. The board has created what it calls an Emergency Fund for Racial Justice to redistribute those corporate donations, in partnership with the Amalgamated Foundation, to other black-led groups.

Image

Credit…Erik Branch for The New York Times

But as rubber bullets flew and images of tear gas-filled police clashes played out nightly on cable news, nothing became the progressive cause du jour quite like bails funds.

Pilar Weiss, the director of the National Bail Fund Network, an umbrella group that links together independent community bail funds, said millions of people had donated an estimated $75 million to her network’s funds in the past two weeks. Robin Steinberg, the chief executive of a different national group, The Bail Project, said the organization had received an additional $15 million.

Sharlyn Grace, executive director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, said, “The support we’ve received is not really about us as a bail fund but support for the Black Lives Matter movement and support for protesters who are taking the streets forcing this national reckoning.”

The outpouring has been organic, viral and immense.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., a bail fund received $1.8 million from 50,000 contributors — in only 24 hours — before asking donors to give elsewhere. In Philadelphia, the bail fund hauled in $2.4 million. And in Los Angeles, one GoFundMe page for the local chapter of Black Lives Matter zoomed past $2 million raised, and another for a previously undersized group, the People’s City Council, leapt from $1,500 raised to $2.3 million.

Crowdsourced memorial funds for the families of Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down this year in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by the police inside her home in Louisville, Ky., have amassed more than $23 million. The Floyd memorial broke GoFundMe’s record for most contributions, with nearly 500,000.

Some of the most intense giving has been to groups in Minnesota, where Mr. Floyd was killed and where the protests began. One neighborhood rebuilding project quickly raised $6.2 million from 62,000 contributors. Another group, Women for Political Change, that supports younger women and transgender individuals, netted $219,000 from a GoFundMe page.

Reclaim the Block, which wants to defund the police, did not previously have an office or paid staff, according to Tony Williams, a member of the group. He said the group raised at least $1 million in recent days, though he did not know the exact sum.

“I’m reasonably sure it’s in the single-digit millions because if it passed $10 million I think someone would have said, ‘Holy heck!’” he said. “It’s a sign of the complete transformation that’s happening in the national dialogue right now.”

The Minnesota Freedom Fund, a cash bail fund, raised a stunning $20 million in four days at the end of May before redirecting donors elsewhere (including to Reclaim the Block). Another $10 million came in anyway — from nearly one million individuals, according to the group’s volunteer treasurer, Steve Boland.

The $30 million total haul is nearly 300 times what it raised in its previous full year’s tax filing.

Credit…Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi for The New York Times

For some perspective on just how many donors that is, it took Senator Elizabeth Warren’s grassroots-funded presidential campaign more than 13 months to reach the million-donor milestone. The presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., has a total of 1.6 million unique contributors almost 14 months into his candidacy, according to his campaign.

Mr. Biden, too, has seen a significant spike in fund-raising of late as he invested $5 million into Facebook ads in the first week of June — spending more in a few days than he did in the first 10 months of his campaign, a sign of how much donors were responding. More than 1.2 million people joined his email list in a week.

There is some precedent for massive giving at cultural inflection points. In mid-2018, as the Trump administration was separating families at the border, a single Facebook fund-raiser for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Texas went viral, raising $20 million in a few days.

But that was one fund-raiser and one group, not the vast array of organizations that have experienced recent windfalls, including the activists and advocates as well as some of the journalism outlets that cover them.

One tiny group in Chicago, Equity and Transformation, which serves black people left behind in the economy, saw a dormant GoFundMe page go freshly viral, raising $44,000. “We’ve never had that kind of resources,” Richard Wallace, the founder, said.

Unicorn Riot, an alternative media company that closely covered the early Minneapolis protests, blew past an initial $5,000 online fund-raising goal by a factor of 100, raising $570,000, according to the site’s online tracker. And The Marshall Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization that reports on the criminal justice system, saw its membership double, from 4,000 to 9,500, according to Carroll Bogert, the group’s president.

“We’re just sitting here doing our jobs and donations started skyrocketing,” she said.

The energy to contribute is so vast that even those without money have sought ways to contribute, including watching videos on YouTube that promise to direct every dollar of revenue to racial justice causes.

“I wish I could give money — I can’t, I’m broke,” said Zoe Amira, a 20-year-old who lives outside Chicago and posted an ad-laden video that was viewed more than nine million times, generating $42,000 — before it was yanked for violating ad policies. She later said on Twitter that YouTube told her it would make a donation of an equal size because it “so believed in the essence of the project.”

Celebrities — Chrissy Teigen, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, among others — have joined and amplified the giving, too. One pop singer, Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, posted receipts for $500,000 in donations. And the K-pop boy band BTS announced giving $1 million to Black Lives Matter; its fan group matched that by donating $1.3 million to a dozen advocacy groups.

Big corporations are making major pledges: $100 million each from Warner Music Group, Comcast and the Sony Music Group for various social justice causes, among many companies.

Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Small donors are powering the moment. Aidan King, an unemployed Democratic digital strategist, created a portal on ActBlue to allow people to simultaneously donate to dozens of bail funds and other racial justice groups. That single page has processed $16.5 million from more than 215,000 individuals in two weeks.

“It’s this horribly tragic and heartbreaking but also, in a way, beautifully perfect storm for activism and solidarity,” Mr. King said.

Ms. Carr, the leader of Higher Heights, said she saw many white friends and colleagues in her own network giving to black-led groups for the very first time.

“People,” she said, “are being inspired by the moment.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/14/us/politics/black-lives-matter-racism-donations.html

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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