Nan Gao
Dylan Marks
Andrew Peterson
Chester Shiu

CS 201
Stanford University


What are 527's? | Who Donates? | Where does the money go?
Government Regulation | Ethics

Who Donates?

In 2000 George W. Bush opted out of matching federal election funds and ultimately held a 2 to 1 fundraising advantage over Al Gore (who accepted federal restrictions.) One solution to this enormous disparity was to use 527's (who have no spending limits) to mobilize liberal support. Of the top 10 contributors to 527 organization, only one is considered conservative. These top contributors donate up to $10 million to organizations such as that were directly used to affect the Presidential Election. These donors utilized 527 to sway politics while having the ability to remain anonymous. We will see how conservatives are fighting 527's so they expose the donors and offer more regulations on them.

The following is a list of top donors.

  1. Soros, George and Susan W. -- $24,220,000
  2. Lewis, Peter B. -- $23,347,220
  3. Bing, Stephen L. -- $15,382,555
  4. Sandler, Herb & Marion -- $14,009,539
  5. Fonda, Jane -- $13,085,750
  6. Perry, Bob J. & Doylene -- $11,010,000
  7. Pritzker, Linda -- $7,565,000
  8. Simmons, Harold -- $6,805,000
  9. Pickens, T. Boone -- $6,677,000
  10. Messinger, Alida R. -- $5,988,200
For a complete list of donors along with information about where they donated to and in what amount, go to:

One donor of interest is Stephen L. Bing who's family is associated with Stanford University and have made generous donations to it.

Labor and trade groups also make up a large donor base for these organizations. Upon looking at the donors for "America Coming Together" you will see a wealth of smaller organizations that donate anywhere from $6,000 to $26,000,000. It seems odd to have organizations donating to others, but if they all share the same values it seems reasonable to donate to a larger cause that could support larger advertising needs.

Though major individual contributors are a big source of funding, the largest source of income are from the many direct contributions through their websites. On some 527 websites, such as, anyone can make a donation through credit card in a quick process in the comfort of their home. If they believe in that 527's cause, it is easy to get involved. The privacy and anonymous nature of 527 websites make it a popular choice among supporters for making donations. Grassroots movements are greatly enhanced with these sites, since the donors can contribute money and read about their progress. These sites often prove instrumental in recruiting new members to the movement. The Internet makes social mobilization easy, since the contributors are always more or less anonymous.