SAN DIEGO -- Canvass For A Cause is a grass-roots 501(c)(4) organization, based in San Diego, that was formed on the heels of the 2008 passage of California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state.
Primarily organized by a group of younger activists, including now Executive Director Tres Watson, the founding team hoped to change the tone of activism by “doing things differently,” according to the group’s website.
The organization’s model is set on the principles of changing “one heart, one mind, one person at a time.”
As such, Canvass For A Cause (CFAC) engages its staff and volunteers in canvassing activities at local stores, malls, school campuses and other high traffic areas to have one-on-one conversations with passers-by, with the goal of getting people to support the various causes and organizations that Canvass For A Cause works on behalf of.
CFAC has participated in activism related to marriage equality, which the organization says is its largest project, as well as women’s rights, immigration issues, cannabis law reform, and international relief efforts.
“Canvass For A Cause was founded by a group of pissed-off activists who wanted to make a difference,” Watson said. “One week after Prop. 8 passed, 25,000 people were willing to march down the streets of San Diego to demand their rights back, yet only a fraction of that were willing to spend the time actually volunteering for the campaign.
“We were committed to changing that … starting off as a bootstrap organization who two fulltime volunteers working out of an old moldy building that was donated space. We had a $20 on a credit, and the passion to make a difference.”
Since then, the organization has expanded to include a 501(c)(3) sister-organization, the Canvass For A Cause Institute, and the Canvass For A Cause Political Action Committee (PAC). The Institute focuses on educational projects, and according to the organization’s website, has begun work on an anti-LGBT bullying campaign.
The PAC arm of Canvass For A Cause began as a partnership with the Yes on Proposition 19 campaign in the November 2010 election. Through this initiative, the group worked to encourage voters to vote yes on the initiative which, if it had passed, would have legalized the use of cannabis in the state.
Watson said he strongly believes in the work of his organization, and recognizes that it was a grassroots organization built from the ground up.
“I am very proud to leading such an amazing group of activists, volunteers, and supporters,” he said.
The organization recently participated in Freedom to Marry Day in San Diego, which was organized as a nationwide protest where same-sex couples visited marriage counters to request marriage licenses.
Canvass For A Cause held a small rally outside of the San Diego County Administration Building and sent a couple, Rex Fender and Rudi Redman, in to the County Clerk’s Office to request a license. They were denied.