Bottom line: Because we seek to represent the public good, and the rights of technology users from all backgrounds, we always act independently from the sources of our funding. That means that donors do not set or influence our agenda or our positions. We believe this is critical not just for EFF, but for our donors, too.
As a non-profit that depends on donations for our operations, we are acutely aware of the questions of influence and association that come with financial ties to individuals, companies, foundations, and other groups. Here are the norms EFF has used for years to both protect our independent voice and raise the funds necessary for us to do our work:
Our strategy is to seek and maintain a diversity of income sources: we avoid being dependent on a single organization, corporation, community, or type of organization for our work. (You can see this diversity of funding sources in our financial reports.) We also primarily direct donors to contribute to our general funds, not to specific work. When we have permitted donors to earmark funds for a particular project or goal, we have not and will not take instructions on how to conduct that project or reach that goal. We also do not expect program staff to fundraise for their own projects or salaries, giving them insulation from the influence of donors in their decision-making. We never endorse products or companies as a result of donated support.
Our donors make all our work possible and we are thankful to them for their support, and we believe that EFF’s power and voice come from the fact that we are fiercely independent of any donor influence. We will not accept funding or other support that undermines our long history of standing up for users and creators. We make our funding decisions on a case-by-case basis, with the final word coming from the Executive Director in co-operation with the Development team.
For reasons of privacy, we keep offers of support that we reject as confidential as we do offers that we do accept.