There are several great tools for looking up an individual’s political donations. Aside from the insight one can gain by learning someone’s history of political donations, the records will also provide information about the donor such as where they work.
The Federal Election Commission’s official database has a tool for looking up a person’s contribution to federal candidates. (https://www.fec.gov/introduction-campaign-finance/how-to-research-public-records/individual-contributions/)
The FEC website also has a judicial section that gives access to FEC records on court cases, violations, audits, and similar issues.
See FEC walkthrough at the bottom of the article.
Open Secrets also has an individual donor lookup tool (https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup) with FEC and some additional sources of data.
DS Giving (dsgiving.com) is a paid service but has a free option for looking up a person’s charity and political donations. The tool compiles the information in one place and includes some additional details.
Each state maintains its own database for donations to state-level politicians. Generally it is easy to find these databases by googling the name of the state along with one of the following: “campaign finance database”, “board of elections”, “campaign finance”, or “political donations database”. In addition, each state has a database where lobbyists register and report expenditures. The website Follow The Money (https://www.followthemoney.org/) can assist as it compiles information about state elections, lobbyists, districts, and political contributions for the entire country.
Donor Lookup Example
Here is an example of looking up state-level contributions. Assuming we are researching someone that lives in Maryland…
Googling “Maryland” and “campaign finance database” results in the relevant database appearing at the top of the results.
Which leads to this website
We run a generic search under “contributor” for the name smith, and the result shows records on past donations, including the details of the donation itself as well as the donor / contributor’s name and address.
If we go to (fec.gov/data) we have the option to research campaign finance data (which includes records on donations) on the bottom left or judicial records on the bottom right. We are focusing on donations / campaign finance but it is good to be aware that the judicial data is available.
Choosing to “search all campaign finance data” leads to the screen below where we have the option to search for a person by name on the bottom right.
By searching a random last name we get the results below that show individual donations. Each record shows the recipient of the donation, amount donated money, the date of the donation as well as the donor’s name, employer, and state where they live.
In the screenshot above there’s a triangle to the right of each record. If we click on one of the triangles a box pops up on the right side as you see below. The box provides some more in depth information about the donor, the donation, and the recipient.
Finally, in the image above there’s a grey box at the top that says “open image”. Click on it and it brings you to the form where the data was derived, as you see below.