There are countless politically motivated nonprofits, many of which raise and donate tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The largest players in the left-of-center philanthropic sphere, such as NEO Philanthropy and New Venture Fund, draw attention from critics and supporters alike. However, these organizations donate their funds to smaller nonprofits that are often overlooked. One such organization is UltraViolet.
UltraViolet is a left-wing nonprofit that focuses primarily on LGBT rights and the expansion of abortion access. The organization carries out social media campaigns, petitions, and small protests, often alongside other left-of-center organizations. It was founded in February of 2012 by Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas. Chaudhary had previously served as the national campaigns and organizing director at MoveOn.org Political Action, a left-progressive political action committee (PAC), while Thomas was previously the executive director of the P Street Project, a 501(c)(4) organization that works to elect left-leaning candidates.
What UltraViolet Does
UltraViolet’s activities consist mainly of social media campaigns to raise public awareness, attempting to influence institutions and organizations into making decisions that align with UltraViolet’s political leanings.
The group’s first notable campaign was in February of 2012. In this campaign, it pressured Susa G. Koman for the Cure, a breast cancer awareness organization, after it discontinued funding for Planned Parenthood. UltraViolet’s work resulted in the resignation of Karen Handel, a republican politician and Komen’s then vice chair .
In July 2016, the organization led a social media campaign to pressure the National Basketball Association and PepsiCo, the NBA’s largest donor, to relocate the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina. This was in response to passage of North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB 2), which mandated public facilities with single-gender bathrooms to allow only people of the corresponding sex (as listed on their birth certificates) to use them.
Before the Republican debate on November 8, 2023, UltraViolet started a campaign against NBC’s decision to co-host the debate with the video streaming site, Rumble. The campaign highlighted that much of the content on Rumble is created by “holocaust deniers,” “rapists,” and “conspiracy theorists.” Shauna Thomas argued in a Newsweek article that NBC is legitimizing an “extremist propaganda tool” by allowing Rumble to co-host the debate.
Tax-Exempt Cancel Culture
Since its formation, UltraViolet has led a series of campaigns and petitions that have targeted specific individuals and companies.
In April 2013, UltraViolet generated a petition demanding that footwear company Reebok cut its ties with rapper and record executive Rick Ross. According to UltraViolet, Rick Ross encouraged “rape culture,” and Reebok subsequently ended its relationship with the musician.
In April 2017, UltraViolet created a petition demanding that Fox News fire Bill O’Reilly over allegations that he had engaged in misconduct with his female colleagues. UltraViolet organized protests outside of Fox’s headquarters, and Fox fired O’Reilly within a month.
In 2023, UltraViolet launched a petition targeting Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, demanding the removal of any content related to Russell Brand. Brand, a British comedian, was accused of sexual misconduct by four different women. The petition pointed out that YouTube suspended advertisement revenue for Russel Brand’s YouTube channel, noting that Netflix should also remove Brand’s content.
UltraViolet’s staff has had years of experience in the left-of-center advocacy and nonprofit sphere.
Kathy Plate, UltraViolet’s managing director of growth and member experience, was digital strategies director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the online communications manager for the Alliance for Justice, a judicial advocacy group.
Isatou Bittaye-Jobe, director of institutional giving at UltraViolet, was formerly foundation coordinator for Population Council, a nonprofit organization that seeks to address world overpopulation.
Vice President of Resource Mobilization KD Chavez had previously worked at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was a member of its national indigenous justice steering committee. Chavez previously worked for nearly a decade for Planned Parenthood.
Funding and Financials
According to its Form 990, UltraViolet reported revenue totaling $2,825,473 in 2022, and expenses of $2,763,336. Nearly all of UltraViolet’s 2022 revenue came from contributions and grants.
UltraViolet has received grants from prominent left-of-center funders such as the New Venture Fund and NEO Philanthropy, which both have annual revenues that exceed $100 million. According to its 2019, 2020, and 2021 Form 990s, UltraViolet has contributed to other organizations, such as the Alliance for a Just Society, the Action Center for Race and the Economy Institute, and the Alliance for Global Justice.