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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

MapLight

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Citizen Participation, Civil Rights, Public Finance, Taxation & Monetary Policy, Voter Education & Registration, Voting Rights

Mission: MapLight reveals money’s influence on politics. We put government information into the hands of citizens, linking money and politics to the specific issues people care about in order to build public pressure for accountability and reform. We believe that democracy works best when lawmakers represent the public’s interests rather than the interests of a wealthy few. Our groundbreaking transparency website combines campaign contributions, federal lobbying data, data on industry support and opposition of bills, and data on how legislators votes, providing citizens, journalists, and advocacy groups with the transparency tools to hold government accountable. Influence connections that once took days or weeks of research to uncover are now available at the click of a mouse.

Results: MapLight has proven to be a powerful force in the government transparency and accountability movement. Since being founded in 2005, MapLight has reached over 300 million people with our data highlighting the impact of political influence, via 11,000 stories in local, national, and international media outlets. In addition to raising awareness and boosting advocacy campaigns, our research has galvanized civic action: for example, our report on the industry money behind a bill to expand payday lending practices in California generated 40 articles and editorials calling for the legislation to be voted down. The bill did not pass. MapLight has also won increased transparency for independent expenditures, ballot measure interests, campaign contributions, and legislative votes in California. Most recently, we launched Power Search, partnering with the California Secretary of State to help journalists, advocacy groups, and citizens easily pinpoint influence facts within California campaign finance data. This innovative, open-source tool is now live on the California Secretary of State's website. In addition, we have launched Voter’s Edge, an innovative online voter guide that provides citizens with a one-stop shop for information on federal, state, and local candidates and ballot measures. Voter’s Edge empowered more than one million people to cast more informed votes in the 2014 elections.

Programs: MapLight operates a groundbreaking transparency website combining campaign contributions, federal lobbying data, data on industry support and opposition of bills, and data on how every legislator votes on every bill before the U.S. Congress and California state legislature. Our database makes influence connections that once required weeks of research to uncover available at the click of a mouse, giving citizens tools to hold government accountable. We conduct original research using our database and work closely with journalists, advocacy groups, and citizens to get money and politics data in the news and into public debate. MapLight is also proud to operate Voter's Edge, a one-stop shop for information on candidates and ballot measures in federal, state, and local elections.

Community Stories

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Elizabeth Leslie

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The election info I received from MapLight & the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's Voter's Edge California I found to be clear, useful and easy to navigate. It has given me hope that there are still trustworthy good government organizations that want to help voters! The campaign finance data is helpful to voters and the media! KUDOS!

I highly recommend this organization!

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for the transparency that MapLight and Voter's Edge California provides so I can make informed decisions at election time. It easily allows me to "follow the money" so I can vote confidently. I am also excited that the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's Smart Voter is joining forces for the upcoming elections to make sure everyone has the info they need to vote at their fingertips - and in Spanish! KUDOS to these organizations for being the only ones to provide nonpartisan voter information you can trust.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Maplight provides a great service to all of us: it provides us with important information about the people and issues on our ballots. It makes the information clear, and helps me make my choices with more confidence.

Former staff

Rating: 5

MapLight does a great job of shedding light on the influence of money on political outcomes. As a former intern, I appreciated the non-partisan nature of their dedicated work; they are focused on making clear the costs to our political system from money in politics. Working side by side with investigative journalists, they believe in providing the public with accurate information about where donations may be influencing political outcomes. Most of all, MapLight believes the American democratic process thrives on more transparency and access to information, and their work to achieve that for the American public shows.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MapLight is a fantastic organization. They do the hard work — digging through data and connecting the dots — in order for us to really know what's really happening in our political system. Behind the scenes, this is an incredibly complicated process, but MapLight goes to great lengths to make the data easy to interpret so everyone — regardless of political affiliation — can benefit from their findings. Staff members are incredibly smart, dedicated to what they do, and very approachable.

Keep fighting the good fight!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MapLight is an amazing resource for advocacy groups and is crucial in making politics transparent and shedding light on an aspect of our political system that many Americans are largely in the dark about. It is invaluable to me as a member of the public and as an advocate for better policies.

Viveka J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The most difficult thing about advocating for campaign finance reform is making the seemingly abstract and overwhelming issue of money in politics tangible and easy to understand. Maplight's work makes the influence of money on specific legislation and races clearly accessible, making a gem for organizers, journalists, and anyone seeking to create change on this tremendously important issue.

Joe_57

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MapLight is doing great work to help make elections and politics more transparent. They are helping voters get more information about the candidates with non-biased non-partisan facts. Hopefully this organization will help contribute to a more enlightened electorate and a higher level of quality for American democracy.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Providing greater transparency to the electoral process, the SmartVoter / MapLight partnership is invaluable not only to researchers, but also to the general public. Keep up the great work!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The partnership of SmartVoter with MapLight has been fantastic. We now have a stronger more informative tool to educate the public and inform citizens. I refer to this site all the time when I carry out my speaking engagements on ballot measures.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

MapLight's work is so important because there is no public issue that money in politics does not affect. I applaud MapLight for fighting to increase government transparency and holding it accountable to the people -- and ultimately ensuring that we all have an equal say in our democracy.

POPVOX

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We're so grateful for the information and tools that MapLight provides. Their work makes others' work possible and helps citizens be more informed.

We were especially grateful to share their important VotersEdge tool with POPVOX users:
http://www.popvox.com/blog/2014/custom-ballot-maplight/

Tara Y.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

MapLight finds fun, engaging and effective ways to inform the public about spending in politics and elections. For a resource that both educates the public and keeps the government accountable and transparent, there's really nothing better.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Thanks for being a resource on election matters -- showing who gets what funding or what interest groups are funding what election issues. Ken Silverstein, columnist

Angelica Q.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a "millennial" state worker with the goal to work with government to be more transparent, effective, and innovative, I cannot emphasize enough the importance in having organizations like MapLight show the value of transparency. It takes a team to make this happen.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Maplight is fantastic. It's always great to see what's really behind certain issues. Keep it up!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Voters Edge website by MapLight is AWESOME! It shows who's behind the Propositions and what money is behind the Candidates.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Greed is killing America! We must all VOTE to save our Democracy! Thank you Maplight for exposing the real threat to our country! Keep-up the great work and Thank you!

Anthony49

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I give incredible credit to MapLight. We as Americans must know where the money is going. It does not matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent receiving this influx of cash. Becoming eerily dangerous when big money in the millions and now billions is entering into the hands of politicians. We must as citizens hold all elected officials accountable. United States of America is treading into waters of the unknown. This article http://theweek.com/article/index/261821/stop-calling-the-us-an-oligarchy shed light onto how bad things can really become for our Republic with Democracy values. I have also provided the link to the Princeton study which that article is refering to. http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPPS%2FPPS12_03%2FS1537592714001595a.pdf&code=cb2dacfb8115c3b53e3ad43a422129d3 As a Councilman in a small town in NJ I believe it is fundamental that we root out money in politics. Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

MapLight connects the money given to candidates with the votes that they take as elected officials. It is an invaluable service to American citizens who want to know what is influencing politics and who is influencing specific votes. As wealthy special interests play a larger role in our politics, it is crucial that we have institutions that are connecting the dots for Americans to be able to see the larger picture. Thanks to MapLight, we do.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

As a member of the public, I've really appreciated when journalists, nonprofits, and educators cite Maplight's campaign finance data because I trust their resources and love that I can then dive in to explore issues in more detail.

As an advocate, I know how much my organization has relied upon Maplight to help us identify and expose campaign finance issues, so that we can work to limit the corrupting influence of dark money in politics.

Great nonprofit, for sure!