WhoFundsWho is a browser extension that instantly shows you who funds the experts, politicians, think tanks and other organizations that you are reading about.
[note: to accommodate a growing user base WhoFundsWho will be updated in the coming weeks. Until then popups may not always load directly due to API constraints.]
There is an old joke about making politicians wear their sponsors’ logos on their suits, like NASCAR drivers do. That way we would instantly know which special interests may be benefiting from the policies advocated by a politician. The same goes for the experts that appear in the media to explain foreign policy, public health, the economy and so on to the public. For example, if a foreign policy expert argues that instead of facilitating peace negotiations we should send more weapons to a conflict zone it may well be relevant to know that the think tank she works for is funded by defense contractors.
Although you can typically find this kind of sponsorship information if you do some investigating online, as a reader you don’t want to have to do the research for every person and organization that you’d like to know more about. That’s why it would be so helpful if the experts and politicians wore sponsor logos on their suits. But that’s obviously not going to happen.
Well, WhoFundsWho does the next best thing.
We did the research for you and compiled a database with funding information for tens of thousands of experts, politicians and organizations. Next we created a browser extension that automatically presents this information to you exactly when it is most relevant to you, i.e. when you are reading about them.
Here’s how it works: When you open a webpage to read an article or browse a news site, in the background WhoFundsWho checks whether any of the names in the database are on the webpage. If so, it highlights those names to draw your attention. When you then click on or hover over the highlighted name, a popup appears that tells you who is funding that person or organization.
And it is not just financial information that WhoFundsWho can provide you with. It can also tell you:
- what other organizations a person has worked for
- how an organization is related to other organizations
- who their parent or child organizations are
- who they partner with
- what networks they are a member of
- and more
For example, you can ask WhoFundsWho to highlight the names of every person and politician that has some kind of formal affiliation with the World Economic Forum. Here’s what that looks like when you then visit a page that lists the members of the current Canadian government:
For more demo videos of WhoFundsWho in action, see here.
For now there are eight different thematic categories you can select:
Who funds the think tanks and experts that play such a dominant role in the formation of public opinion and policy?
In recent years there has been an explosion of organizations and people active in the ‘countering disinformation’ industry. Who are they and who funds them?
Which special interests are funding which politicians?
How important are the pharmaceutical industry and big philanthropic organizations in the funding of public health organizations and experts?
Which politicians, officials, generals and other experts move smoothly between government, think tanks and the corporate world, making use of their expertise, influence and connections?
Which institutions, researchers, regulators, government agencies, government regulators, journalists, media, nonprofits etc are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?
And what about the de facto British counterpart of the Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust?
Which businesses, foundations, politicians, civil society leaders and so on have some kind of formal affiliation with the World Economic Forum?
For each category the extension uses a different color to highlight the names. If more than one category is selected, all names will be highlighted in the same color.
How to use WhoFundsWho
- to activate the extension, select ‘on’
- to choose whether you want popups to appear when you click on a highlighted word or when you hover over it, select either ‘click’ or ‘hover’
- to let the extension search for people in addition to organizations, check the ‘include people’ box
Changes that you make in the menu won’t become active until you refresh the page or open a new page, tab or window.
For more information, see the FAQ.
Troubleshooting? Click here.
Although the WhoFundsWho database is only in its early stages, it already contains information about many thousands of organizations and people. But it is by no means complete or exhaustive. Think of the database as Wikipedia in its early years: Already useful but with tremendous potential for further growth.
Our goal is for WhoFundsWho to become an indispensable tool that reveals to users the otherwise hidden connections that exist between the organizations and people that shape public opinion and policy.
And you can help make this happen:
- by sending comments, suggestions, questions, criticisms and other kinds of feedback
- by correcting any errors you may come across in the data the extension presents to you
- by sending us new information or sources about funding and other types of connections that we can add to the database
- by evaluating or contributing to the code
To get in touch, you can fill out the contact form to get in touch, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter: @whofundswho.
You can also help by spreading the word and telling others about WhoFundsWho.
Lastly, although we try to automate as much as possible it is still true that many hundreds of hours go into doing the research, homogenizing and processing the data, building the database, and designing, testing and improving the extension.
If you find that WhoFundsWho provides a valuable service to you, please consider making a donation to support our work and help us sustain, improve and expand the project.