The Do-It-Yourself Way To Create A Trump Damage Limitation Fund

If you’re making holiday donations, Bright Funds has a one-stop way to spread out your cash among progressive organizations.

The Do-It-Yourself Way To Create A Trump Damage Limitation Fund
[Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Shortly after the election on Last Week Tonight John Oliver shared his concerns about what might happen to the world in the wake of a Donald Trump presidency. Then he flashed a list of seven charity groups on screen–Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights, Natural Resources Defense Council, The International Refugee Assistance Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Trevor Project, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund–and suggested viewers “actively stand up for one another” by donating to them.


A day or two later, the President Trump Damage Limitation Fund was born. It exists on Bright Funds, a charitable giving platform, used by over 45 companies including Foursquare, Gitbhub, and Morningstar that reaches roughly 140,000 people.

Bright Funds launched in 2012 to provide employees a broader range of ways to give back beyond just picking from a standard list of charities. The service allows users to donate to any 501c3 or join broader funds, which distribute to multiple groups around the same cause area. It also allows users to create and creatively name their own funds for others to seek out and join. In this case, the President Trump Damage Limitation Fund was started by Rod Begbie, an engineering manager at Dropbox who watched Oliver’s show, researched the host’s suggestions, and decided to put all those groups under a Bright Funds umbrella.

The fund has raised over $10,000 since it launched, and that could increase soon, when companies that match employees’ charitable donations add their contributions. While many companies have remained bipartisan throughout the election, their employees may now be using Bright Funds to drive in-house cash toward anti-Trump causes. “The employee policy is if it’s a nonprofit and you commit cash to it, we will match,’ Begbie says, noting that was part of his incentive to start the fund. “That’s the rule and I respect that.”

As a result, Bright Funds has emerged as a powerful new tool for targeted giving. In the week following election, the platform saw a 1146% increase in donations to progressive organizations backing things like women’s health, environmental protection and the fight against global warming, refugee support, racial justice, LGBT equality, immigration rights and public media. In real numbers that’s over $19,000, which will likely amount to far more annually as many programs are set up to give routinely. Over a dozen anti-Trump funds have popped up on the platform with names like Fight For the Future, Groups That Check and Balance a Trump Presidency, Love Beats Hate, Stay Great, and Love in the Time of the Trumpocalypse.

[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” says Bright Funds CEO and cofounder Ty Walrod, who notes that, one month later, weekly giving to progressive causes is still far above the usual average. “The uptick in donations to progressive organizations is unprecedented in Bright Funds four year history.”

Because the site limits donations to 501c3s that money is going toward fundamental cause work, not the political action arms of any organizations. As Walrod puts it, “I think it’s a way for people to compensate in the areas they are really passionate about and where they suspect that the government will regress.” For those interested in improving the world in general, Walrod’s own fund is called Don’t Boo, Donate! It includes several groups that may have their work cut out for them during Trump’s tenure, but also the Against Malaria Foundation, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and Southern Poverty Law Center.


Overall, progressive groups received an outpouring of post-election support. As of mid-December, the ACLU had received nearly $20 million from 300,000 separate donations. They also gained 400,000 new Facebook followers, putting them over the 1 million mark for virtual support. In the week after the election, Planned Parenthood received over 315,000 donations, 70% of which came from new supporters. Nearly one-third of those came in under the name “Mike Pence” to both troll and protest the future vice president’s unwavering pro-life stance.

Planned Parenthood has also received 5,000 new applications from people who want to volunteer, which could come in handy. There’s a last minute rush on some services like IUD birth control. Requests for the procedure have jumped tenfold since Trump was elected because it’s expensive and may not be covered if the Affordable Care Act is altered.

As a manager at Dropbox, Begbie stops short of suggesting that subordinates join the fund he created. However, he did take some time during a recent meeting to remind everyone that there might still be matching funds available, which would reset after the New Year. “I’m not saying what to give to or who should benefit, but that’s money that they give us,” he says of Dropbox’s willingness to chip in on Bright Funds contributions. If the election had gone the other way, some folks might be giving in more conservative ways too. “They trust us however we want to use it.”

About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.