Today is my 2nd last day in Seattle. I’ve had an awesome time. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime. There’s a few podcasts I’ve shot while I’m here that I’ll get out asap. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a couple of thoughts about fund raising.

Obviously the USA is crazy about their Presidential elections at the moment and most, if not all, of the people I’ve met in Seattle are rooting for Obama. When I ask them who is funding Obama they tell me the same thing – he’s raised his money over the Internet from ordinary Americans!! It’s amazing!! The triumph of the little people over the politics!!

When I ask them how they know this to be true, they give me a strange look at tell me OBAMA SAYS IT’S TRUE! Oh well, of course.

My next question is usually “so how much did you give him?” and they usually answer “ummm nothing”. So who are these people who are funding Obama?

According to Kenneth Timmerman, who writes for the ultra-right-wing site Newsmax, Obama doesn’t need to disclose the names of people who donate less than $200.

Timmerman writes:

Campaigns are not required to disclose contributors who donate less than $200 — and Obama’s campaign refuses to release their names, addresses, and donation amounts. Obama has collected a staggering $603.2 million. Most of the money — $543.3 million — has come from individual contributors, half of it from “small” donors Obama won’t disclose.

So who are these people? How do we know that they aren’t big corporations – or non-US governments – who are making millions of small donations via credit cards over the internet?

Timmerman claims there is some strangeness about Obama’s donations. since Oct 14, the following people have donated:

OJ Simpson
Daffy Duck
Bart Simpson
Family Guy
King Kong
jkbkj Hbkjb

Timmerman’s source claims he made donations using several of these names and a disposable credit card. If Obama’s team aren’t picking up and rejecting fake names to ensure that 1) the person is real and 2) the person hasn’t donated more than the maximum amount of $2,300, then the system is open to fraud and manipulation.

Yet most Americans I talk to believe the Hollywood answer, that Obama is getting his funding from millions of small donations from believers.

Don’t get me wrong – I hope they are right and I am wrong. I hope I’m just being cynical. But there are questions here which the Obama campaign should be forced to answer.

The other great fund raising story I’ve heard lately is The Atheist Bus Campaign which launched Tuesday October 21 2008 in the UK. They hoped to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across London for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” They overshot their goal. They have currently raised over £111,000!

For some months now I’ve been planning to move TPN over to a donation-based system. We’ll be asking out audience to contribute some funds to help cover our running costs. Wouldn’t you rather have media that doesn’t rely on corporate sponsorship or government funding? I guess we’ll see over the next few months how much people value TPN’s content.