Can Corporate Money Still Make Change?

Does the limited impact of the insurrection-inspired corporate PAC hiatus underscore the diminishing role of corporate money in U.S. politics?

A sweeping number of corporations halted political contributions following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Over 100 Fortune 500 companies committed to suspending donations and ten major companies slashed contributions by more than 90% in January.

But small-dollar donations took off in January. Grassroots donations to the most vocal backers of Trump’s election-fraud narrative more than offset the loss of corporate money. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $8.33 million in January – 50% more than in January 2019—from almost 90,000 individuals, with one in 10 first-time donors who gave less than $200. And the impact of small-dollar donations on Democratic fundraising is well-documented.

As 2021’s first quarter comes to a close on March 31, many CEOs are preparing to resume bipartisan giving. Corporations are continuing to reevaluate giving criteria and some companies are taking steps to expand and diversify their PAC boards. 

But with a potential shift in whose campaign cash makes a difference, here are some other ways companies can share their priorities with elected representatives:

  • Inform members of Congress that represent company facilities via email of:
    • Increased hiring or economic activity
    • Partnerships with local organizations
    • Activity on any issues important to that member
  • Arrange introductory meetings with members with interests in line with the company’s activities, and

  • Invite members of Congress to events marking new developments for the company, such as a groundbreaking ceremonies, or a tour of a plant or facility.