Madison company launches app listing companies’ political donations
MADISON, Wisc. — Goods Unite Us, a startup based in Madison, just launched an app that tells users whether their favorite corporations and brands have donated to Republican or Democratic campaigns.
The company has compiled publicly available campaign data for thousands of companies. The app, which is also called Goods Unite Us, lists everything from American Eagle to the University of Wisconsin, and the founders are looking to add more companies as suggestions come in.
“If corporations have speech, we want to know what they’re saying at Goods Unite Us. So we wanna know how our money through the purchases we buy is affecting the political process,” said CEO and founder Abigail Wuest.
The app assigns a score to each company or brand based on which party it has donated to and how much money it has donated. For example, Costco has a score of 78 because it gives 96 percent of its donations to Democratic candidates, while Walmart has a score of -50 because it gives 58 percent of its donations to Republican candidates.
The company’s founders aren’t shy about their political leanings, and have pledged to donate half of their profits to progressive politicians and political organizations.
Wuest didn’t have immediate data available about how many people have downloaded the app, but she said she knows both Republicans and Democrats alike have used it to learn companies’ political affiliations.
“It’s not just important to Goods Unite Us that someone donates a lot of money to progressives,” Wuest said. “That’s actually not what we want. What we want is to make companies think twice before engaging in politics. So our goal is to get money out of politics.”
Neeraj Arora, a marketing professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, said engaging in politics should not be a business’s main goal.
“Ideally, a company is in the business to actually serve the customers and they kind of stay out of the politics,” Arora said.
He said apps like Goods Unite Us bring transparency to the political process so consumers can make decisions for themselves.
“I think we live in a world which is so different than 20 years ago that there’s greater transparency. I think information is more accessible now. So this app that we’re talking about is an example of that,” Arora said.
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