OPENSECRETS

Following the Money in Politics

aka OpenSecrets   |   Washington, DC   |  www.opensecrets.org

Mission

Our Vision and Mission: Inform & Empower Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, OpenSecrets is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Our mission is to track the flow of money in American politics and provide the data and analysis to strengthen democracy. Our vision is for Americans to use this knowledge to create a more vibrant, representative and accountable democracy. We pursue our mission largely through our award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, which is the most comprehensive free resource for campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available. OpenSecrets News features award winning original reporting and our data powers other organizations' and news outlets ability to track money in politics.

Ruling year info

1983

Principal Officer

Ms. Sheila Krumholz

Executive Advisor

Edwin Bender

Main address

1300 L Street NW Suite 200

Washington, DC 20005 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Center for Responsive Politics

EIN

52-1275227

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

Citizen Participation (W24)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2019, 2018 and 2017.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

OpenSecrets' mission is to produce and disseminate peerless data and analysis on money in politics-to inform and engage Americans, champion transparency, and expose disproportionate or undue influence on public policy. Challenges in money in politics and governance are urgent and the need for accurate, nonpartisan information on presidential and cabinet-level conflicts of interest is growing. Gaining a clearer understanding of money's influence throughout politics, such as in Congress or via dark money, remains vital to our democracy and for voters' participation in our nation's civic life.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

OpenSecrets.org

A four-time Webby winner for being the best politics resource online, our website OpenSecrets.org allows users to explore the connections between money and politics. Freely available, easy-to-use databases track state and federal campaign contributions, personal financial disclosures of government officials and both foreign and domestic lobbying in a variety of illuminating ways, such as by industry and interest group. The merger of CRP and NIMP brings together decades of expertise, massive data sets, and the kind of analysis that researchers, journalists, advocates and the public rely on to understand the influence of spending on politics. OpenSecrets is a “force multiplier” — empowering users to be informed and engaged in our democratic system and to, in turn, engage other audiences using our unassailable research. At a time when people with genuine concerns across the political spectrum search for answers and common ground, OpenSecrets’ expanded capacity is a force for democracy.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Academics
Activists

OpenSecrets News puts OS' data in context, pointing out trends, adding a money-in-politics angle to ongoing news stories and policy debates. Our award-winning investigative reporting has exposed networks of secretive politically active nonprofits and local donor schemes.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Activists
Academics

Using OpenSecrets' vast and highly advanced databases, the research team provides custom data and research to academics, activists, journalists and public-interest groups.
Donor Lookup: A database search tool by name for political campaign contributions.
Get Local!: Profiles that show who's making large political contributions by state, and where the money's coming from (by city, by zip code, and graphically with our "money maps"). Includes links to a money profile of individual senators and representatives, with a detailed look at where their campaign war chest comes from.
Featured Data Sets: OpenSecrets routinely creates and provides free public access to custom data sets on a wide variety of topics, based on popular requests.
Bulk Data: OS bulk data allows downloads of compressed text files of the data created from raw data provided by various government agencies. Access and use is free for non-commercial purposes.
APIs: Provide access via web programming to OS site data.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Academics
Activists

Outside spending and dark money groups spend millions influencing our elections and public policy. At OpenSecrets.org, we reveal the data reported by outside spending groups to the Federal Election Commission and state disclosure agencies. OpenSecrets.org has a section devoted to dark money groups – politically active nonprofits that aren't required to publicly disclose their donors, unlike virtually every other organization spending money to affect the outcomes of elections public policy debates. Through this dedicated project, we have dug up data on these donors of more than $3 billion – and counting – since 2008.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Academics
Activists

OpenSecrets' FARA search tool provides data and reveals the networks of lobbyists registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the foreign interests they represent, and their meetings and other contacts with government officials.

Population(s) Served

OpenSecrets examines gender, race and the intersection of money in politics: expanding the available data on the impact of these factors in primary races, where the real gatekeeping for candidates occurs; providing analyses that can inform winning strategies for candidates from underrepresented populations; and promoting awareness of this work. OS’ critical and unique multi-jurisdictional race and gender data sets are consumed by a diverse voting public through our gender and race tools that explore the challenges that money in politics presents for underrepresented groups of women seeking elected office.

Population(s) Served

OpenSecrets is creating and will maintain the country’s first multi-jurisdictional database of lobbyist/client registrations and lobbying spending, and contextualize the data through tools and analyses, teasing out correlations or networks that may not immediately be apparent. Additionally, linking lobbyists in multiple jurisdictions will provide unique insights into how lobbyists leverage their own donations and those of their clients to influence public policy.

Population(s) Served

OpenSecrets offers the most comprehensive database of online advertising spending by candidates and political groups on Google and Facebook. OS’ searchable portal provides an excellent view of who is paying for highly targeted online advertising. Renewed support will help to keep the data current and maintain and preserve these sometimes "disappearing" data points.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Adults
Adults
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Webby Award: Best Politics Site 2007

International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences

Webby Award: Best Politics Site 2006

International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences

Webby Award: Best Politics Site 2002

International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences

Webby Award: Best Politics Site 2001

International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences

Top 100 Useful & Interesting Sites 2008

PC World Magazine

Scripps Howard Awards Finalist 2011

Scripps Howard Foundation

Sigma Delta Chi Award/Public Service Journalism 2013

Society of Professional Journalists

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of list subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

OpenSecrets has over 49,000 subscribers to our email newsletter. this helps us keep our audience informed and engaged.

Number of media citations of advocate research or products

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists

Related Program

OpenSecrets.org

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

OpenSecrets is an essential resource for reporters; millions more learn of money's influence from the media's and advocate's increased reliance on our data; We employ Cision to track use.

Number of press articles published

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists

Related Program

OpenSecrets.org

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

OpenSecrets News

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists

Related Program

OpenSecrets.org

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

OpenSecrets aims to enhance its nonpartisan leadership in producing and disseminating money-in-politics information at the federal level to inform and empower voters. Our short term aspirations are the media's increased reliance on our information, as evidenced by the quantity of appearances as well as their quality (e.g., prominence of the article or editorial appearances). We aim to increase legal or other civic action associated with the use of our information. Additionally, we are always working to increase the number of partnerships and the prominence/reach of organizations acting on or with our information. For the long term, our goals would include attaining sufficient public attention to and engagement on the influence that elite interests have on politics and policy, such that: the calls for change grow louder and people and organizations across the ideological spectrum use OpenSecrets' data to provide an opportunity for a new, less polarized conversation about money's influence.

We have several strategies by which to accomplish these goals. We will continue to collaborate with a widening range of partners in the media to extend our audience and impact and work with project-based partners to strengthen our work's quality and reach new audiences. We also plan to strengthen our site's Action center to highlight “rapid-response" opportunities for citizens to engage on issues. In terms of data, we will continue to produce the most comprehensive and highest quality information available, by adding critical and timely data sets (e.g., foreign lobbying and FCC political ad buys) and by curating and integrating the resulting data and strengthening the delivery and usefulness of the data, through improved access, and through more impactful reporting and media partnerships.

With 38+ years of knowledge and skill, we have the most comprehensive and reliable data on political fundraising and spending on national elections. No other organization has our repository of data or the expertise to be able to parse through the data. We have some of the most capable researchers and reporters working to reveal these underlying influences. We have begun great work at exposing the influence of Dark Money, Super PACs, and Single-Candidate organizations, and have been cited by prominent news outlets, with over 34,860 unique media citations in 2020, and have a good electronic reach, with 132,153 Facebook followers and 104,000 twitter followers. OpenSecrets has established ourselves as experts in campaign finance data and analysis. Additionally, we are supported by an executive board made up of academics, industry professions, and staff of similar organizations that bring unique knowledge and skills to OpenSecrets, allowing for dynamic and diverse guidance.

OpenSecrets.org allows users to explore the connections between money and politics. We recently redesigned the entire website to make our data more quickly and informatively available,and more user friendly (e.g., with the use of infographics and other visualizations), and more easily viewed on mobile devices. OpenSecrets produced the go-to analysis for the total cost of the 2020 federal elections ($14 billion), of which reported outside spending by organizations funded by secret donors and super PACs reached record highs. We are documenting this continuing trend and are also working on the problem of tracking and exposing the powerful interests. OpenSecrets continually improves its data in order to provide an accurate, consistent and comprehensive resource for the press and public. OS frequently works with other organizations to combine its unique data with other data sets, and to create features illuminating the role money plays in politics.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Feedback area on website,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    We have no formal process to share feedback.,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

OPENSECRETS
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

OPENSECRETS

Board of directors
as of 05/05/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Bert Brandenburg

Senior advisor, Ward Circle Strategies

Term: 2021 - 2023

Sonia Jarvis

Visiting Professor of "Equality and Justice in America" in the School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, The City University of New York

John Purcell

Media and public advocacy consultant

Grace Hong

Senior Advisor, TPG and Owner/Principal, GXH Consulting

John Jenkins

Law Street Media

Charles Lewis

School of Communication, American University

Nick Penniman

Issue One

Jennifer Victor

School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, George Mason University

Daniel Doktori

Chief of Staff and General Counsel at Credly

Jeff Malachowsky

Consultant

Maurice BP-Weeks

Co-Executive Director, Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)

Keri Dogan

Senior Vice President, Fidelity Investments

Christopher Gates

Philanthropic and nonprofit advisor on philanthropic practice, political reform and civic engagement

Rosalind Gold

Chief Public Policy Officer, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund

Caroline Fredrickson

Distinguished visitor from practice, Georgetown Law Center, and senior fellow, Brennan Center for Justice

Mark Hansen

Director, Brown Institute for Media Innovation. Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Charles Kolb

Executive Director, Quality of Life Plus

Michael Malbin

Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science, University at Albany, State University of New York

Jodeen Olguín-Tayler

Senior philanthropic advisor, Movement Voter Project and an organizational change management consultant

Geri Palast

Consultant, Palast Strategic Consulting and Coaching

Ann Ravel

Digital deception project director, MapLight, and Of Counsel, Renne Public Law Group and McManis Faulkner

Abby Wood

Associate Professor of Law, Political Science, and Public Policy, USC Gould School of Law. Commissioner

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/27/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data