Where is the Vanguard Getting Its Revenue?



For some time, people have been asking where Vanguard funding comes from.  As our discussion from yesterday demonstrates, a little bit of knowledge is actually fairly dangerous.  So I have broken down by sector the source of the 2016 revenue, ending July 31, 2016, which includes the entirety of the 10th anniversary event.

The biggest single chunk of money comes from advertising, which accounts for 30 percent of the Vanguard’s revenue this year.  This was an election year which meant we got a lot in the way of revenue from campaigns.  The Vanguard took advertising from Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Assembly), Brett Lee, Matt Williams and Will Arnold from the City Council.  It also took money for and against Nishi (but the vast majority of that money came from the Yes on A Campaign).  Trackside did a single month ad while MRIC paid for six months of ads prior to its decision to disembark.

The vast majority of the other ads were from attorneys.

70% of the Vanguard revenue has come from donations.  I have broken these into nine relatively well-defined categories.

The largest is social justice.  These are individuals and occasionally groups who are donating to the Vanguard primarily because of our work in social justice, whether it be the court watch program, our work on police reform, or race and social justice.  A lot of these are people that we covered when they or their family were involved in the system.

The next largest group of donations is from lawyers – some of these are criminal justice attorneys, but not all.  The single largest contribution here came from Paul Boylan, who was the event sponsor of the tenth anniversary event.  He donated $5000 to the Vanguard and has been a strong advocate for open government and free speech.

The next largest category is called “other.”  Most of these are in the form of $10 recurring monthly donations.  These are people who do not have a clearly identified interest, other than supporting the mission of the Vanguard.

Next we get to elected officials, who represent 8% of all donations.  These are donations from people either elected to office or who have formerly been elected to office.  It is worth noting, for example, each current member of the city council was a sponsor of the Vanguard 10th Anniversary event.  Four of the five school board members have also donated to the Vanguard.

6% of our contributions directly came from developers.  It is important to note that, while Nishi advertised on the Vanguard and was a sponsor in 2014 and 2015, they did not contribute any money to the Vanguard in 2016.

2% of our contributions came from people in either commercial or residential real estate.  Another 2% of our contributions came from the business community.

In total, one might argue that, at most, 10% of the Vanguard’s revenue came from developers, real estate, or business interests.  By comparison, 34% came from lawyers and social justice advocates.

There are two other categories.  Our board has donated 5% of the revenue.  And UC Davis, defined as administrative and non-faculty members, donated 1%.  Last year, at the September event, UC Davis was a major donor as they donated the use of the UC Davis Conference Center, but this year, they have only made a few small donations.

Hopefully this will answer some of the questions, and we plan to update this at the end of the year, as well as file all necessary 501(c)(3) documents.

I would be remiss if I did not add that the Vanguard is an increasingly expensive ongoing operation and we are need of both one-time and recurring donors.  Last year, we topped 500 donors for the first time – many of them simply making monthly $10 contributions.  But it adds up.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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16 thoughts on “Where is the Vanguard Getting Its Revenue?”

  1. Grok

    Thanks for posting this. It is important that the Vanguard strive for a high level of operational transparency, and this goes a long way towards that. One could quibble that you should still post an actual list of funders, but short of that, what you have done here is very informative and appreciated. taking you at your word of how the categories are broken down this goes a long way to demonstrate there is no single interest that the Vanguard is beholden too.

    I would like to suggest that you make this analysis a regular practice undertaking it twice a year so changes over time are easily discernible. The results should be readily available under the “about us” tab so readers can easily see the vanguard is not captive to any single interest.

    I would further suggest that you update the board page. Since you have posted a list of who is on the board as a comment I don’t believe you are trying to hide anything, but it is important that that type of information is regularly maintained in a visible place. I would further suggest that there should be published email addresses for board members.


    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Grok: I appreciate your comments.  My goal is always to be transparent in how we operate.  The board I told you a few weeks ago is the same one we have.  Updating the site is on the list, but there have been a few higher priority things in recent weeks.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      That’s my take as well.  The point that Frankly made last night is also important – we get a lot of donations that say, we don’t agree with you on some issues, but we support your work.  That kind of view is important and also makes it less likely that donations will drive coverage.  At some point, I want to completely separate news from funding, but we’re not there yet.

  2. South of Davis

    Thanks for posting this.  I just noticed Jim Gray’s ad and I was wondering if he is in the pie for advertiser, business, developer or real estate?  Was there a system to decide what pie people were put in (e.g. if anyone ever paid for an ad were they listed as an “advertiser”)?

  3. Barack Palin

    You have to take into consideration that advertising overlaps many of the categories.  For instance how much of that 30% advertising comes from developers or lawyers?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The advertising from developers was more one-time – MRIC, Nishi, Trackside – defined periods.  The same with candidate advertising.  We took from all sides.  The advertising from attornies is ongoing.  Not sure what that means, but it’s an important point I believe.

      1. Grok

        This veers slightly off topic, but here are 2 honest questions I had about advertisements in this table.

        I found it very interesting to see the Gramandi add. Any idea how that is being paid for? Is it out of a campaign budget or something else? It doesn’t have the usual line stating who paid for the ad, but maybe its not a political ad.

        Bob Poppenga’s ad doesn’t state who is paying for it either, but that one is clearly a campaign ad. I thought that was required by law to identify who paid for the ad on campaign ads.

        Can anyone shed some light on this?

        1. Matt Williams

          Ican not speak for either the US Congress or DJUSD rules, but the City of Davis rules, as explained to me by Zoe Mirabile, the City Clerk, when I filed my election papers in February, are that a blanket form submitted to the City Clerk with the filing papers eliminates the need to print the “Paid For . . .” notice on signs.  The specific wording of the City’s POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SIGN REGISTRATION form is:

          Per City of Davis Municipal Code – All political campaign signs shall be clearly and legibly labeled and include the name, address and phone number of the responsible party erecting the sign or at the option of the responsible party, signs may be registered with the City Clerk on this form.

          I called Zoe to find out what the city’s policy is regarding Electronic Media, and she informed me that for Political Advertising Disclaimers on Communications by Candidate Committees for their Own Elections, the City defaults/defers to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regulations, which can be viewed by following this LINK .  The specific FPPC wording regarding Electronic Media (Websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, faxes, social media pages – e.g., Facebook) is:

          “Paid for by committee name” and committee ID number are recommended but not legally required.

  4. Marina Kalugin

    heck,  I was even going to attend, go and donate…and what does that prove?

    but I barely made it back from an out of the country business trip and then was too exhausted as I am generally up really early….

    and, many attorneys own property in town and some are even developers…or are representing developers and some represent the underdogs…

    does Paul post on the DV?   we have been enjoying an interchange this morning….on Sean’s wall…I don’t recall seeing him posting here unless he is using a fake name…???

  5. Marina Kalugin

    it would be way more helpful if names were posted…isn’t that required for anyone who donates more than $99….I mean in financial statements, not on the DV of course….

  6. MrsW

    Feeling grateful for the experiment called The Davis Vanguard.  Its fills a niche that was entirely open.  I know of no other community that has a Vanguard.  Sometimes nuggets of truth and understanding come through that I believe, without the Vanguard, would languish in the dark.  Thank you.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    yes, MrsW….I tell my many friends and colleagues that if not for the DV much of this would never see the light of day.

    of course, many of my friends state they no longer post after they were bashed around too much…

    of course, many of my friends are not on the same side of A, and many other Davis causes…

    neither am I but I have a truly thick skin…  and I am no my 9th life now….so really, do I give a “F”…some may learn something from my off topic posts…oh well   enjoy this lovely day

    I know I am …I am in one of my truly happy places right now…not too far outside of Davis…but poor wifi…oh well.

  8. David Greenwald Post author

    One other point – those who appreciate the Vanguard and what we do, funding is tight and so those who haven’t donated or who aren’t monthly subscribers, we can use your help.  Every bit matters whether it’s $10, $25, $100 or more.

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