Social Conservative Spending

For our ‘Case for Politics’ report, the APP Foundation team compiled spending data for hundreds of social conservative organizations involved in public policy, political activism, and election campaigns from 2008 to 2016.

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Methodology

For our research, we used publicly available archives such as Open Secrets and Guidestar to identify organizations with a mission of changing public policy that work for life, marriage or religious liberty. We supplemented this list by going out to major social conservative leaders and asking for any organizations we missed. We scoured IRS 990s for independent campaign expenditures and other election spending by 501(c)(4)s, and FEC records for spending by Super PACs and PACs, and compared these with non-electoral non-profit spending by 501(c)(3)s and (c)(4)s. In total we analyzed over $3.1 billion in spending by 365 socially conservative organizations from 2008 to 2016.

We have provided the total spending by all social conservative organizations for each year below. For the purposes of this project, we have labeled all non-profit political campaign activity expenditures (found on Schedule C of the Form 990) and PAC and super PAC spending as ìpoliticalî and all other non-profit spending (education, research, legal defense, etc.) as ‘non-political.’ Since the FEC tracks spending by election cycle, not year, PAC and super PAC spending were sorted into the corresponding election year even though some spending took place in off years. The spending data found for 2015 and 2016 is included in a separate table since this data is incomplete due to filings not yet being available for those years.

All Social Conservative Spending
(2008-14)
Year Nonpolitical Political Spending
2008 $368,473,858 $12,724,087
2009 $366,513,661 $787,222
2010 $368,487,705 $14,883,550
2011 $371,154,556 $1,765,984
2012 $385,545,912 $22,230,553
2013 $374,756,801 $685,050
2014 $394,580,569 $20,698,198
All Social Conservative Spending
(2015-16)
Year Nonpolitical Political Spending
2015 $383,177,011 $692,622
2016 $10,522,180 $9,613,913
*Spending data for 2015-16 is not fully complete.

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