For the foreseeable future, Person-Centered Tech will donate 1% of its net revenues to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.) The donations are intended for the material support and protection of vulnerable Americans. Roy Huggins and Brian Smith, the owners, made this decision on Wednesday. The program of donation will apply to revenues earned after November 9th, 2016.
We also encourage all our colleagues to consider how even small material contributions to the protection of vulnerable Americans, whatever that means for you, will have an enormous collective impact.
Why? Isn’t this a bit of a knee jerk reaction?
We talk a lot about risk management and risk analysis here at Person-Centered Tech. We also preach the gospel of not over-escalating your responses when risk management issues arise. So to prevent misunderstanding, I’ll describe our reasons using the risk management lens.
It is polarizing for us to take what is clearly a political stand. Most businesses would prefer not to do that. However, we take seriously our professional, ethical, and moral responsibility to protect vulnerable people. We see that there currently exists a present and palpable threat to the safety of vulnerable populations in the US. So we see it as necessary to enact a risk management measure (open material support of civil liberties) despite the costs (polarization of our customer base’s view of us, and the money we spend on donation.)
We don’t assert that this threat exists without objective analysis and evidence, and our analysis did not include numerous campaign promises that relate to changes in law. For example, the President-elect promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, exit climate change agreements, and make extensive changes to the tax code. We don’t think those changes are wise. However, that person was elected to do those things by the American people. He will also need to work with Congress — also elected — on most of those changes. I imagine that most or all people associated with Person-Centered tech will oppose those changes. However, our plan to materially support the ACLU’s defense of civil liberties is not in response to them.
The current President-elect has made concrete campaign promises that he will use his executive authority to undermine the livelihoods and safety of vulnerable American populations including immigrants, minorities, and women. Examples include promises of forced deportation and required registration for minority religions. Very important to our analysis is that these promises were concrete and explicit, and that our interpretation is not simply the fear-driven assumption we are prone to make when observing politicians who don’t share our political ideology. In addition, we already see evidence that these promises have incited oppressive and violent action from private citizens against their fellow Americans across the country.
The risks we wish to manage were discovered via campaign promises that the President is empowered to fulfill directly through the powers of the executive branch, and that are both dangerous and unconstitutional. This is why our risk management measure of choice at this time is to materially support the ACLU.
Why, specifically, the ACLU?
The assessed risk that we wish to reduce is that in which the executive uses his powers to take direct action that is harmful to vulnerable Americans. Countering the creation of new law is difficult and fraught, but countering unconstitutional acts by the executive may be possible through the courts. The ACLU’s primary purpose is to fight for civil liberties in the courts, so we have chosen them to receive our donations.
We also considered the Electronic Frontier Foundation and numerous other groups that support needs like women’s health and environmental action. Using the risk management language once again: we recognize that supporting any of those organizations would help to address serious risks to our nation’s and our world’s safety, but we assessed the risk of harmful unconstitutional acts by the executive to currently be the highest level risk on our list. And we don’t have the resources to address more than one thing at a time. As such, we chose an action that specifically addresses that top-level risk. We will continue to assess and may adjust as the need arises.
How much material support are you really giving?
Our plan is to donate 1% of net revenue, where net revenue is defined as what’s left after we pay our costs but before the owners (Roy and Brian) get paid anything. If Person-Centered Tech is ever able to pay Roy and Brian a living wage, the donation rate could very well be increased.
We don’t have a lot to give, but we still see it as important. Because:
Material support is both practical and symbolic
I’m probably about to sound like your undergraduate college’s Department of Alumni Giving when I say this, but… the number of people who give is just as important as the amount given.
Simply announcing this new program to all of you may actually be more supportive and powerful than whatever funds we’ll be able to provide for the ACLU.
And in that vein, we encourage all of you to provide some kind of material support to the health and safety of vulnerable Americans through whatever means is most important for you and your community. Material support doesn’t have to mean money. Volunteering can be even more powerful! And you’re a mighty powerful bunch that reads these letters from us.
Don’t underestimate what you can do and what you can give if you can make the time and spare the resources. Simply imagine the communicated meaning if large numbers of professionals chose to contribute to a constructive social effort, and made those contributions known.
We know that this week has been rough, and we sincerely hope that this announcement provides a small bit of respite. We look forward to your constructive feedback and wish you and your communities the best.
The Person-Centered Tech Staff
– Roy Huggins, LPC NCC
– Brian Smith, MBA
– Liathana Dalton, (eventually to be PhD)
Customer Success Manager