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Help OpenCongress Fundraise (Not-For-Profit)

May 31, 2012 - by David Moore

The U.S. Congress is an intentionally baffling, money-drenched, insistently closed-off system. OpenCongress works every day to make its workings more publicly accessible and fight corruption in our national priorities.

Up to 1 million people visit OpenCongress in a month to track & understand the U.S. Congress. That makes us one of the most-visited not-for-profit #opengov sites in the world — but unfortunately, our current level of funding support doesn’t match our impact. The PPF team maintains OC with just two full-time equivalent staffpeople — not nearly enough to keep a site as data-intensive & popular & social as ours runnning at a healthy level. We have a massive open database of bill info, news & blog coverage, public comments and more back to the 109th Congress – we’ve been in the game since 2006 (!).

More than just transparency & access to information, OpenCongress also facilitates meaningful civic engagement. Our site uniquely allows constituents to email both their U.S. senators and representative from one place – with handy access to all the info we aggregate – free of charge, open-source, and not-for-profit. We have a good start, and big plans for more online organzing as seen in the stop-SOPA campaign. 

Help us keep building our public-benefit organizing tools on the open Web.

OpenCongress will launch a new fundraising drive next month and we need volunteer web development time to make it a success – and in turn, to keep OC alive through the 2012 federal elections & beyond.

  • Web developers – our greatest need is front-end generalists to help with HTML, CSS, and perhaps a bit of new, original web design. Volunteers help us optimize the user experience for the goal at hand, viz. our fundraising campaign, quickly and using software like Optimizely. 
  • CiviCRM developers – PPF uses the open-source CiviCRM software for our sizable user community, and I could really use a volunteer Civi expert to help me with some specific-yet-pretty-basic questions (that the open-source documentation, while ample & admirable, doesn’t really make straightforward). Unfortunately we don’t have any budget for dedicated CiviCRM consulting fees, but as with all our volunteers, we’ll be pleased to give you a nice shout-out on our Blog and some cool thank-you gifts next month.
  • Rails programmers – we’re looking for volunteers with experience in Ruby on Rails to help maintain our web app & liberate more #opengov #opendata – for example, help us make our emails-to-Congress (e.g., for H.R. 3261, aka ‘SOPA’) more sortable & searchable. (Won’t that be useful to add to our open API for greater public accountability? Help us make it happen.) We recently overhauled our README on GitHub and made it easier-than-ever to get setup hacking on OC. 

To help us out on this pressing microdonation campaign, just email me – david at - and we’ll gear our open-source volunteer dev team to the fundraising drive. Very necessary. And if you’re not a Web developer, just a dedicated OC supporter, email me as well – there’s lots of other ways you can help, from outreach to research to user community support. 

Last, you don’t need to wait to donate to OpenCongress. PPF is a 501c3 non-profit organization, so donations are tax-exempt, and they go directly to support our (considerable) site hosting charges & open-source Web development. Anything you can give helps. 

Major donors & philanthropists – might you be interested in making a donation of $1,000 more to support our innovative and much-in-demand work on transparency and engagement? Be in touch – david at Your gift can help us enhance our free online organizing tools and more. We get impacts, oh Lord do we get impacts: massive traffic, lots of user-friendly Web tools for activism (e.g., recently, stop- SOPA / PIPA, our biggest-ever day of traffic), all towards a more networked public sphere. Please help us grow & defend net freedom. 

Charitable foundations – we urgently seek additional funding support as we pursue our non-profit sustainabilty plan. Read about our team, what we have, and where we’re headed. PPF is unique in the #opengov landscape for our track record of creating mass-market, user-focused Web tools for contacting government. Help us become more like a U.S. version of MySociety in the U.K. – and build things that people naturally love to use. 

(Image from Flickr user adlpated. Background: wonderful Bloom County, one of the primary reasons I care about politics.)

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