Take Action — Protect Your Inbox | Good Practitioners | News | About

We have a problem — you’ve seen it in your inbox.

Are you sick and tired of getting hundreds of political fundraisers that you never signed up for? We are too.

“I donate to campaigns I believe in often, including sometimes maxing out to them. Yet, my email inbox is a war zone of unsolicited spam from countless campaigns, whose email lists I did not opt-in with.”

– Leo Z.

What is ethical email?

Ethical email:

  • Is sent only with your permission; i.e. you opted in to receive it.
  • Does not use scammy tactics like fake quadruple matches, deceptive subject lines, and unrealistic calls to action (“four more donations from your zip code and Trump will be ARRESTED!”)

How did we get here?

Unethical actors in the political space – including certain digital fundraising firms, email vendors, and political committees – have recently established practices of buying, swapping and selling lists of emails, WITHOUT the permission of the email address owners (the recipients).  

So when you give to one candidate, your email address is often transferred to dozens of other candidates.  In the commercial & business sectors, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 generally prohibits this kind of thing, but it unfortunately does not apply in the political fundraising world.

For individuals: How can I protect my inbox?

First and most basic, if you never signed up to hear from that candidate or organization, click “spam” or “junk” on their emails.  (Simply unsubscribing doesn’t hurt, but is basically useless; your email has probably already been swapped or sold to multiple other campaigns.) You should also choose to “block sender” or “block sender’s domain” if those options are available to you.

If enough of us do this, eventually the mailbox providers like Gmail and Hotmail/Outlook will put all those messages where they belong – in the junk folder.

The next steps to shut down un-permissioned emails?

  • Sign the open letter to candidates: I will no longer donate to a candidate who won’t respect my privacy and protect my email address from being sold or traded.
  • Sign the petition to the major email service providers that service Democratic campaigns: Please don’t allow my email to be sold or traded; enforce your rules – require proof of opted-in permission for all bulk uploads of email addresses; and give us a clear way to report violators.
  • On any social media fundraising posts from candidates you follow, simply reply, “Hey, I’ll donate online … but only if you’ll pledge to protect my privacy, and NOT rent, swap or sell my email address.  Otherwise, I’ll give by check – what’s the address where I should mail that?
  • At the next fundraising or town hall event you attend with a candidate in your area, be sure to ask the candidate you’re supporting (either privately or publicly) about their privacy policies, and if they will commit to NOT selling, renting or trading your email address to other candidates or committees. 

“I am SO irritated with my email being abused, that I will not donate a single dollar to any campaign or PAC that spams me, and I am reporting every single unsolicited political email as spam on my gmail.”

– Leo Z.

Ready to do more?

Here are some helpful mailto links to send an message and request that certain for-profit vendors delete your personal information from their databases. Please note:

  1. Californians have special rights under the CCPA — so please choose the correct link below!
  2. Make sure to send these messages from the address where you’re getting all the un-permissioned email.
  3. You will need to add your name and address at the bottom of the message.

Please feel free to share any replies you get back from these companies, by forwarding them to responses@ethicalemail.com … thanks!

Ann Lewis Strategies/MissionWired (their privacy policy): Californians, mail them here | Other states, mail them here

PACtion – (their privacy policy): Californians, mail them here | Other states, mail them here

Bonterra Tech (their privacy policy): Californians, mail them here | Other states, mail them here

Democrats.com (their privacy policy): Californians, mail them here | Other states, opt out here (via “do not sell my personal information” link at lower right of page)

For organizations and candidates: Do you respect subscribers’ and donors’ privacy?  We’d love to highlight you here.

If you represent a candidate, cause or campaign that does NOT buy, sell or swap the email addresses of your supporters … and stays away from scammy tactics in your emails … please fill out this short form to be listed below.  (Also please let us know if you would like your logo and/or link to donate listed here.)

Donor Organizer Hub
Movement Voter Project
(list currently in formation! drop us a note above!)

Also, here are a few candidates and campaigns who are running better email programs:

Want to figure out who’s NOT respecting your privacy?

The easy (but not infallible) way: add a plus sign and code to any gmail address (or gmail hosted domain) as you sign up for a list, i.e. instead of your real address of steve@gmail.com, use steve+donatedtobobfordogcatcher@gmail.com . (More on how to do that is here.)

The better way?  Just get a new freebie address from Google, Hotmail or Yahoo. (Easiest if you do it in a different browser from what you normally use.) It only takes a couple minutes. Other options include Firefox Relay or Trashmail.

Has anyone done this work on a broad scale?  Yes. The Princeton Corpus of Political Emails did a big study in 2020 of more than 3,000 email senders.  It’s absolutely worth a read.

News Section:



Help me, Peggy! #fypage #foru #comedy #chaosemeralds #ediblearrangements #lgbtcomedy

♬ original sound – Nick Tiffany
"Tell AI to write a hyperbolic email asking for less hyperbolic emails."
Shout-out to Zo Tobi for this one!

About Us

We are grassroots donors, digital professionals, and progressive activists for ethical email. 

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