Way to Win: A Transformative Approach to Political Fundraising from the Ground Up
By: Kate Helete — March 4, 2019
The 2016 election was a call to action for many throughout our country. In the wake of what felt like a bad dream, many began to question establishment strategies and their effectiveness in building a better, more representative democracy. A key challenge to conventional political strategies that emerged was how political fundraising and giving can be most effectively leveraged to create and support progressive change to improve people’s lives and give a stronger voice to underrepresented communities.
Way to Win, an all-women led progressive donor and political strategy hub formed in 2017, advocates for a new, more empowering approach. As the New York Times describes, Way to Win aims to “shift the way political giving happens away from advertising and other outreach done by national groups, and toward ground organizing controlled by local groups.” They focus on expanding the electorate by turning non-voters to voters instead of focusing on the mythical “swing” voter, with a particular focus on states in the South and Southwest. They believe a new approach to political funding will win near-term elections to build long-term power, dismantle outdated electoral strategies, and empower those who have been stripped of their voices by politics as usual.
“Once we expand the electorate in these places, there will be no turning back,” says Tory Gavito, President of Way to Win to the The New York Times. “The concentration of young people, poor people and people of color who used to sit on the sidelines because Democrats have not inspired them will upend the map.”
During 2018, Way to Win raised and leveraged $22 million to support bold, progressive candidates and initiatives. The result was a long list of victories: 34 house seats flipped, one Senate seat flipped and two held, a Democratic-controlled House, five gubernatorial wins, more than 41 state legislative seats gained in the South and Southwest, and nine progressive state initiatives that restored voting rights for more than 1.4 million Floridians, created the opportunity for millions of new voters to get registered through automatic and same-day voter registration, legalized marijuana, and raised the minimum wage.
Way to Win’s success during the 2018 midterms sets the tone for 2019 and the 2020 elections. Politico featured Way to Win’s WayForward conference that brought together donors and progressive candidates after the midterm and described the event as “a reminder of the growing influence of left-leaning donors and activists in a party long dominated by more centrist money and ideas.”
At Riff City Strategies, we are honored to help support Way to Win’s mission to build a multiracial coalition throughout our country that is truly representative of America and the values we all hold dear. At a pivotal moment in history, Way to Win is leading the way by working with those most impacted by injustice to win near-term elections while building long-term power, to improve lives, and to achieve a representative democracy that works for all.