A Madison startup with the goal of moving money out of politics is getting a shoutout in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Goods Unite Us, which rates companies and brands on political donations, is one of the magazine’s “High Five” for March.
Through Goods Unite Us, users can see how brands and companies engage with American politics. Brands and companies are rated on how much money they donate to political parties. The app and website house a database of more than 4,000 brands and companies.
One day after the edition hit newsstands, CEO Abigail Wuest said downloads of the Goods Unite Us app are up.
“People care about money in politics and figuring out where they’re money is going,” said Wuest. “A big part of the company is helping to protect the democratic process. We need to know where corporate money is going as long as corporate money is going into the process.”
RELATED: What political party are you supporting with your purchases? Goods Unite Us wants to tell you
The app and website had more than 200,000 monthly active users in November, the company said. Goods Unite Us, a pre-revenue startup, released the app in fall 2017. It is available for free download in Android and Apple app stores.
Goods Unite Us assigns each company a campaign finance reform score. A perfect score (100) means the company and its senior employees do not donate significant amounts to politicians or political action committees. Companies with the lowest scores (below zero) donate more money and a larger percentage goes toward Republicans.
The rating algorithm “skews progressive,” Wuest said. “What we care more about is Democrats are more likely to support campaign finance reform. The critical factor is how much you donate.”
The app’s rating for O, The Oprah Magazine, which is published by Hearst Corp., said it donates 56 percent of its political contributions to Democrats and 44 percent to Republicans. The app ranks the contribution level as medium. Its overall campaign finance reform score is 36.
Goods Unite Us said it closed a $500,000 seed round in January and has grown to five employees. The plan for Goods Unite Us is to improve its ratings and expand its user base heading into the 2020 election cycle.
The team is working to break down corporate contributions to show what PACs and candidates are receiving money. A new feature to allow users to search for companies that donate to specific politicians is in the works.
The app draws mostly women (88 percent) and people over the age of 35. A little less than half of all app users are new. The top three states are Texas, California and Florida, COO Amy Miller said.
“We’re not even close to tapping into the entire market,” Miller said. Goods Unite Us is working to broaden its user base with millennials.
Both Generation X and millennials are shown to try to align personal views with purchasing habits. Around one in three people in those age groups have boycotted a company or product during the last year, according to a survey from LendingTree Inc. More than half of all respondents in the survey said they would no longer shop at a favorite retailer if it publicly supported a person or cause they strongly disagreed with.
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Goods Unite Us plans to close a multi-million-dollar series A funding round by the end of the year.
Sarah Hauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @HauerSarah and Twitter @SarahHauer. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter Be MKE at jsonline.com/bemke.
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