Political campaigns

How to tell if CEOs donated to political campaigns

Consumers identify strongly with their favorite brands. Millennials, in particular, prefer companies that share their social and political values: almost a third of this generation say they will not buy from a company that has political positions different from theirs, according to a Morning Consult survey.

This week, many SoulCycle and Equinox customers were shocked and angry when it emerged that Stephen Ross, chairman of parent fitness brands The Related Companies, was planning to hold a fundraiser for the re-election of President Donald Trump. Many high-profile patrons like actor Billy Eichner said they would boycott the establishments.

Tweet from Eichner

In reality, business leaders often use their money and influence to support political causes. But for conscious consumers, there are several resources available that offer insight into the political causes to which the leaders of your favorite companies have donated.

By law, campaigns and political action committees must disclose the personal details of people who donate $200 or more, including their names, addresses and employers. The Federal Election Commission website has a tool to search for these individual contributions by donor name to find information about the candidate or organization they donated to, as well as the amount and date of the donation. .

Although the FEC website is packed with information, searching through the huge database can be overwhelming. That’s why other tools have emerged that aim to distill complex political contribution data into actionable insights.

An online portal from the Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets, aggregates contribution data in an easy-to-read format. The center also ranked the organizations that donated the most money to political causes.

Goods Unite Us is a free mobile app that allows users to search for a company and find out which political parties and candidates senior employees have donated to. The app was launched by legal professionals and says it contains information on over 4,000 brands.

The financial news website MarketWatch compiled the political contributions of every CEO of an S&P 500 company during the 2018 midterm election cycle and created a searchable database. The data is broken down by political party and you can view each donation individually.

Zippia, a job search portal, has a similar tool on a larger scale. For each company, the site aggregated the contributions of each employee whose donations were publicly available. For example, 87.5% of Apple employee contributions were to the Democratic Party, according to data from Zippia.

In an increasingly divided political climate, the values ​​perceived by companies can have a significant impact on how customers perceive them. After Stephen Ross’ Trump fundraising plans were revealed, SoulCycle reps took to social media to steer the brand away from the president. “SoulCycle in no way endorses the political fundraising event to be held later this week,” CEO Melanie Whelan wrote on Twitter.


“I would definitely say the polarized atmosphere has sparked a little more outrage than 10 years ago,” Brendan Quinn, outreach manager at the Center for Responsive Politics, told CNBC Make It.

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