Salsa Labs (SL) was established in 2003 to provide the progressive movement with “a next-generation technology platform” for online fundraising, advocacy, communication, and organizing. SL is equpped to help a political candidate or party “get a complete, high-impact fundraising campaign off the ground rapidly.” Toward that end, it can create any number of unique, customized donation forms, facilitate the use of targeted emails, and set up automatically delivered confirmation and thank-you messages for correspondents and donors. SL’s online tools can also provide detailed donor-profile information that enable campaigns to see exactly where contributions are coming from, analyze how well different messaging techniques are performing, and gain an informed sense of key donor trends.
Vis à vis advocacy, SL tools enable users to easily design everything from online letters and petitions, to features that let supporters reach out to local media. Moreover, the email and social sharing capabilities built into the SL platform make it virtually effortless for a supporter to send personalized messages to different officials, legislators or political figures, based on how they initially respond.
In terms of communication, SL’s services enable political campaigns to reach out to potential supporters in a variety of ways—e.g., periodic email “blasts,” newsletters, donation appeals, action alerts, and communiques that are integrated with ancillary fundraising and advocacy activities. The effectiveness of each of these approaches can be carefully and accurately tracked.
SL’s “Organize” tool features a comprehensive database that houses key information about each supporter of a given campaign. Candidates can track a host of variables such as supporter contact information, donor history, event attendance, and volunteer activities. Further, they can disseminate vital information to local chapters via the same platform.
SL has worked with more than 1,000 progressive groups, political campaigns, and media organizations in the U.S., including ACORN, AlterNet’s Wiretap Magazine, the Campaign for America’s Future, Code Pink, CommonDreams.org, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Emily’s List, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Faith in Public Life, Faithful America, Robert Greenwald’s “Brave New Films” initiative, MomsRising, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Public Citizen, Reform Immigration For America, The Nation, TrueMajority, and Young Democrats of America.
In March 2010, Salsa Labs partnered with the AFL-CIO and hundreds of the Federation’s affiliated unions in a project called “Salsa Labor,” whose aim was to “revolutionize the labor movement.” “We want nothing less than to transform the way our union leaders and members communicate, collaborate, and organize to make us an even stronger political force in 2010 and beyond,” said AFL-CIO online mobilization manager Christine Kenngott. “The Salsa Labor online platform will help us link hundreds of local unions and millions of labor members throughout the country to more effectively organize and advocate on issues that matter to working families.”
Salsa Labs was founded by Chris Lundberg and April Pedersen. Lundberg, who brought ten years of software-development and management experience to the organization, had previously helped develop software for the Library of Congress, satellite communications software for the Department of the Navy, and telecom Internet solutions for the global management consulting firm Accenture. Pedersen’s background was in the nonprofit sector, where she worked as an online campaign strategist, writer, and organizer.