AL Advising

Philanthropic and Political Consulting

AL Advising works with progressive philanthropists to create a portfolio of civic engagement, policy, and advocacy investments including 501c3, 501c4, candidate, and related political giving. We also work with organizations to help them maximize their effectiveness.

Where to Give Now: August 2018

Labor Day is the unofficial kickoff for the campaign season. Before the frenzy begins, it’s important to step back, take stock of donations to date, and determine giving priorities for the coming weeks.

I highly recommend giving the vast majority of 501c3 and 501c4 donations and the bulk of candidate donations before September 1. This allows organizations and campaigns to better plan staff, media, field, and other budgets. Save 5-10% of your overall budget for last-minute asks such as late primaries, surging candidates, and organizational budget gaps.

Upcoming Primaries and Top Races to Watch

Below is a list of upcoming primary elections and races to watch. We are in the home stretch, with only a few competitive primaries remaining.

August 28                

  • Arizona: US Senate (Republican primary); AZ-2
  • Florida: Governor (Democratic and Republican primaries); numerous congressional races
  • Oklahoma

September 6           

  • Delaware

September 11         

  • New Hampshire: Governor (Democratic primary); NH-1
  • New York (state/local only): Governor (Democratic primary); Attorney General (Democratic and Republican primaries)
  • Rhode Island: Governor (Democratic and Republican primaries)

September 18         

  • Massachusetts: MA-7

US House

Let’s start with the good news: Democrats are virtually guaranteed to pick up a significant number of US House seats. A variety of factors will determine if we have a trickle, a wave, or a tsunami including President Trump’s approval rating (and, yes, his Tweets); the Mueller and related investigations; Democratic enthusiasm; last-minute “dark” money; and the relative strength of gerrymandering and tribalism vs. a desire for change and a check on one-party control of Washington.

Prognosticators like The Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight currently estimate that 14-56 seats are likely to flip. AL Advising’s 2018 analysis includes:

  • 16 pure toss-up seats
  • 6 toss-up/Lean Democrat seats
  • 20 toss-up/Lean Republican seats

Of those 42 seats, only two are currently held by Democrats, MN-1 and MN-8 (both are open seats). That’s a lot of uncertainty — and opportunity. In a nationalized election environment like 2018 (and 2016, 2010, and 2006), it is likely that there’s either a wave or there’s not; in other words, Democrats win 10-20 seats or 40+.

Many worthy candidates in donor-rich states like CA, NJ, and NY are already well-funded; we are focused on flippable districts with late primaries and therefore cash-strapped candidates. Top races include: FL-26 (Debbie Mucarsel-Powell); MI-11 (Haley Stevens); MN-1 (Dan Feehan); MN-2 (Angie Craig); MN-8 (Joe Radinovich); and WA-8 (Kim Schrier); Candidates with primaries in key districts such as AZ-2, FL-27, and NH-1 will need support following their primaries.

You can donate to these races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue.

To view our 2018 Elections Database to view all House races, as well as Senate, Governor, and other key races, email

US Senate

With confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh set to begin on September 4, all eyes will be on the US Senate. Unlike the House, these races are more likely to depend on the strength of individual candidates and political circumstances in specific states.

The path to 51 is narrow but do-able:

  • Protect Democratic incumbents in Florida (Bill Nelson), Indiana (Joe Donnelly), North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), and West Virginia (Joe Manchin)
  • Flip Nevada (Jacky Rosen), currently held by a Republican incumbent
  • Flip open seats in Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema), Tennessee (Phil Bredesen), and Texas (Beto O’Rourke)

Florida, the swingiest of swing states, has me the most worried. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, is in the fight of his life against current Republican Governor Rick Scott, a self-funder. Scott has already put in more than $20 million of his own money and has said he will spend whatever it takes to win. Nelson has approximately $15 million cash on hand; not too shabby but not nearly enough to communicate to 15+ million voters spread across 10 media markets.

You can donate to these races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue.


Why care about Governors in other states? States are the laboratories of democracy and we need blue states to pass progressive legislation that not only impacts those people’s lives but serves as an example nationally.

Perhaps the most immediate reason is the state officials elected in 2018 will be in office to oversee redistricting, the process by which we redraw congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 census. Democrats dropped the ball in 2010 and allowed Tea Party Republicans to gerrymander states from Florida to Pennsylvania to Texas. In 35 states, districts lines are passed as partisan legislation and we therefore need to control one chamber of the state legislature and/or the Governor’s mansion to have any say at all.

The most flippable states are:

  • Winner of the Florida primary on August 28
  • Stacey Abrams (GA)
  • Janet Mills (ME)
  • Gretchen Whitmer (MI)
  • Richard Cordray (OH)
  • Tony Evers (WI)

All of these states have many competitive races including “nested” races; that is, more than one overlapping geographic target such as a targeted state legislative race within a targeted congressional district or a targeted congressional district in a state with a top Senate or Governor’s race. So there’s a huge bang for the buck.

You can donate to these races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue.

Allied Organizations

Below are some of the most effective national organizations, many of which are coordinating efforts in key states through their state affiliates. Additional lists of state and local organizations can be provided upon request.

Great Groups to Consider: 501c3

  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (501c3): Runs the non-partisan election protection coalition and 866-OUR-VOTE hotline; also brings litigation around voting rights cases.
  • State Voices (501c3): The coordinating entity for grassroots organizations doing non-partisan voter engagement nationally and in key battleground states. These groups primarily target African-American, Latino, and other voters of color as well as low-income voters.
  • (501c3): Online toolset including voter registration tool, an absentee ballot tool, and tool that helps you verify your voter registration status, and a stand-alone election reminders tool. Used by both individuals and dozens of organizations.

Great Groups to Consider: 501c3 / 501c4

  • Alliance for Youth Organizing / Action: A national network of organizations focused on registering and turning out young voters, changing voting laws, and engaging young people on key issues.
  • America Votes (501c4 only): The coordinating entity for progressive organizations doing electoral work both nationally and in key battleground states. Donors can give to the national organization or to a specific state.
  • Mi Familia Vota: A civic engagement organization working in six key states (AZ, CA, CO, FL, NV, and TX) that advocates on social and economic issues that impact the Latino community and engages in voter registration and mobilization efforts.
  • Movement Voter Project: MVP supports grassroots organizations in key battleground states and districts. They will give to the organizations who need it the most or you can direct funds to specific states.
  • Voter Participation Center (501c3) and Women’s Voices Women Vote (501c4): Target unmarried women and other underrepresented groups through mail and social media.

Great Groups to Consider: Candidate / Other

  • Sister District: Organizes volunteers into local teams based on where they live, and "sister" blue places with swing districts across the country to support strategic state races that matter.
  • Swing Left: Identifies your closest swing House district for volunteering and donating.
  • Demand Justice: anti-Kavanaugh, Supreme Court coalition

Please feel to email Alexandra Acker-Lyons at with any questions.