MoveOn Carries Out Layoffs as Liberal Groups Struggle to Raise Money

The liberal activist organization MoveOn laid off at least 18 employees this week, in the latest sign of a slowdown in donations from small donors to left-leaning causes and candidates.

“We are retooling our team to meet the urgent needs of this moment and to have the resources necessary to do so,” Rahna Epting, MoveOn’s executive director, said. “I extend my sincere gratitude to our departing colleagues and for the incredible contributions they’ve made to the MoveOn community.”

The job cuts are part of a broader restructuring before the 2024 election cycle that the group announced in June, according to a MoveOn employee who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. The staff members who lost their jobs were told this week that they would be leaving the organization, the employee said.

The MoveOn employee said that the group would be adding up to 18 new positions, but that it was cutting more positions than it would add. The staff members who were laid off have been invited to apply for the new roles, many of which will have lower pay than the posts eliminated this week, according to the employee, who said the group expected to have roughly 80 to 90 staff members overall in 2024.

As the employees who lost their jobs told friends and turned to progressive email lists to look for work, MoveOn gave its remaining staff members at its Washington headquarters Thursday and Friday off from work.

One of the first progressive organizations formed online, MoveOn was formed in 1998 out of opposition to Republican efforts to impeach President Bill Clinton. It later became one of the largest groups organizing opposition to the Iraq war. MoveOn endorsed Barack Obama early in the 2008 campaign and ran an unsuccessful movement to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts into the 2016 presidential campaign.

The group is now involved in a broad Democratic effort to stop No Labels from mounting a centrist third-party presidential bid in 2024.

Democratic candidates and liberal organizations have been struggling to keep up the fund-raising pace they enjoyed during the presidency of Donald J. Trump and even in the early years of President Biden’s administration.

Officials at liberal groups and Democratic campaigns have attributed their cash crunch to changes in how tech companies like Google and Apple filter fund-raising solicitations, as well as to dampened enthusiasm for Mr. Biden and an economy that has left donors less willing to fork over money.

MoveOn’s layoffs came days after it sent a 15-foot inflatable balloon likeness of Representative George Santos, the disgraced New York Republican, to the National Mall, a few blocks from the Capitol, as lawmakers returned from their Thanksgiving recess.

The balloon, which the organization said was part of its efforts to pressure lawmakers into ousting Mr. Santos, sported his characteristic thick-rimmed glasses as well as a red tie emblazoned with the phrase “full of lies.”

It was unclear whether any members of Congress saw the balloon on their commutes, though it attracted attention from the news media and tourists.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

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