Established as Working Assets in 1985, and rebranded as CREDO Action in 2007, Working Assets/CREDO Action (WACA) is a company that provides more than 3 million customers across the United States with credit cards (initiated in 1985), long-distance telephone services (launched in 1991), and wireless telephone services (begun in 2000). Each time one of its members uses any of these services, WACA automatically funnels, at no extra cost to the person, 1% of its profit from that transaction as a donation to “progressive nonprofit groups.” From 1985-2017, WACA raised more than $83 million for such entities.
The process of deciding precisely which organizations will receive WACA’s donations is initiated by the company’s customers, who nominate groups that they deem worthy of financial support. Once those nominations have been made, WACA staffers and board members narrow the field of eligible recipients. Finally, in turn, the customers specify how they would like their money to be apportioned among the groups in that smaller list.
Among the noteworthy organizations that have received significant amounts of funding from WACA over the years are: 350.org; ACORN; the Alliance For Justice; Alternet; the American Civil Liberties Union; the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy; America’s Voice; Amnesty International USA; Bend The Arc; the Black Lives Matter Fund; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Center for Economic and Policy Research; the Center for Media and Democracy; the Center for Popular Democracy; the Children’s Defense Fund; Color Of Change; Common Cause; Defenders of Wildlife; Democracy For America; Democracy Now!; Demos; Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières; the Drug Policy Alliance; Earthjustice; the Economic Policy Institute; the Feminist Majority Foundation; Free Press; Friends of the Earth; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Greenpeace International; the Human Rights Campaign; Human Rights Watch; the Institute for America’s Future; J Street; the League of Conservation Voters; Media Matters for America; Mercy Corps; the Mother Jones Investigative Fund; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; the Natural Resources Defense Council; Oxfam America; People for the American Way; Planned Parenthood; the Ploughshares Fund; Project Vote; Public Citizen; the Rainforest Action Network; the Sentencing Project; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the Union of Concerned Scientists; United We Dream; the Voter Participation Center, Win Without War, and the Working Families Party.
To view a list of additional WACA grantees, click here.
Since WACA’s founding in 1985, the foci of its philanthropic attention have shifted along with the evolving political and social concerns of the time. In 1993, for instance, WACA focused heavily on promoting a single-payer health care system, and on urging an end to the ban on homosexuals in the military. In 1994 it offered a free, prepaid calling card to the first 10,000 members who called Congress to protest then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” And in 1995 WACA launched its “Flash Activist Network,” a rapid-response program that disseminated faxes to “key decision-makers” on “urgent political issues.” That same year, WACA initiated a Citizen Action program exhorting employers to pay their workers a “living wage.”
Condemning “the Bush-Cheney saber-rattling” vis-a-vis a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq, WACA in 2002 raised $151,450 in “a special round-up to oppose the looming war.” As “the rush to the Iraq War intensifie[d]” in February 2003, WACA teamed up with MoveOn.org and TrueMajority to run a full-page ad in the New York Times against America’s impending military action. And in 2004, WACA donated more than $1 million to groups working on voter-registration and voter-mobilization campaigns, and against “voter-suppression” measures like photo ID requirements.
In April 2004, thousands of WACA customers participated in the “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington, DC, an event promoting the notion that women should be granted unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy. For its members who were among the one million people in attendance that day, WACA provided signs bearing the “Working Assets” name and conveying messages that affirmed “a woman’s right to choose.” Also at the rally, WACA received an award for its contributions to, and support for, the pro-choice cause.
In 2010, WACA pushed heavily for a “public option” — i.e., a government insurance agency to “compete” with private insurers — in the healthcare reform bill that was being advanced by the Obama administration.
As WACA’s member rolls exceeded the 2-million mark in 2011, the company sought to “fight the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline” — which would have carried some 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the U.S. each day — “on every front,” by means of phone calls, petitions, letter-writing campaigns, rallies, etc.
In 2012, WACA’s activist base grew to 3 million members. That same year, it created a CREDO SuperPAC that raised $2.5 million from some 70,000 donors in an effort to defeat conservative Tea Party Republicans who were running for Congress.
In October 2013, WACA launched a new CREDO Visa credit card which donates 10¢ to “progressive nonprofit groups” each time a member uses it to make a purchase.
Among WACA’s leading concerns in 2015 were: stopping the construction of the aforementioned Keystone XL pipeline; securing “strong Net Neutrality rules”; “preventing Republicans from sabotaging the Iran nuclear deal”; “defending Planned Parenthood from Republicans attacks”; and “putting a stop to Arctic [oil] drilling.”
At various times during the course of its history, WACA has been a member organization of the United For Peace and Justice coalition, the Win Without War coalition, and the Peace and Security Funders Group.