Organizing for Action succeeds Organizing for America, which was formed under similar circumstances but operated under the control of the Democratic National Committee. In preparation for President Obama's second term, Organizing for America was relaunched as a nonprofit group in order to mobilize support behind the president's legislative and political agenda.
The organization is headquartered in Chicago. As a tax exempt 501(c)(4) organization, it seeks to harness the energy of the president's re-election campaign for future legislative fights. The group advocates on policy issues such as gun violence prevention, climate change, LGBT issues, and immigration.
In February 2013, the New York Times reported that donors contributing or raising $500,000 or more to Organizing for Action would put them on the group's national advisory board, granting the privilege of attending quarterly update meetings given by the president. White House press spokesman Jay Carney denied that access to the President was being "sold," stating that OFA was an independent organization, and referred specific questions to the OFA staff. On March 8, Messina told CBS News that the president might attend a "founder's summit", but stated, "Whether you're a volunteer or a donor, we can't and we won't guarantee access to any government officials. But just as the president and administration officials deliver updates on the legislative process to Americans and organizations across the ideological spectrum, there may be occasions when members of Organizing for Action are included in those updates. These are not opportunities to lobby — they are briefings on the positions the president has taken and the status of seeing them through."
Questions have been raised about the actual aims and the eligibility of Organizing for Action to continue to maintain the www.barackobama.com website and also control the @barackobama Twitter account. Use of these accounts by Organizing for America is not prevented by campaign finance laws.
On December 17, 2013, OFA tweeted a photo of a young man with thick-rimmed glasses, wearing black-and-red plaid onesiepajamas, and cradling a mug. The accompanying text read: "Wear pajamas. Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance. #GetTalking." The tweet linked to the OFA website, which encouraged individuals to discuss Obamacare during the holiday season with those family members that are uninsured, and encourage them to sign up. The tweet and pajama-clad man featured in it were quickly dubbed Pajama Boy, and mocked across social media, particularly by conservatives.
Obama reelection campaign manager Jim Messina has stated that the group would not be accepting corporate donations and would disclose donation amounts, and OFA executive director Jon Carson and Messina have both stated that OFA is a non-partisan, grassroots issue advocacy group. In March 2013, OFA said that it would begin to publish its donors list (including donation amounts) on a quarterly basis. In May 2014, the organization halved its staff and announced that it would stop requesting large contributions.