Mission Focus: Reproductive Rights Issues
Keeping donors informed
Misinformation can be the biggest handicap for raising funds for causes related to reproductive rights.
“You have to get around the rhetoric,” says Latifa Lyles, vice president of membership for the National Organization for Women. “We make sure these issues are relatable to the average donor. We help them keep up with the debate and not get confused.”
Lyle says phone campaigns around such issues are particularly effective. “We touch them on a personal level with campaigns that ask, ‘What if?’ Let’s say we have a particular justice nominated … what would your life look like? We talk about what’s happening in different states, and how, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion could be illegal in 22 states. We ask: ‘Is your state next?’”
Joyce Schorr, the founder and president of the Women’s Repro-ductive Rights Assistance Project, a group that directly provides funds for women to get abortions, says even people who already are pro-choice need additional education.
“Many people don’t understand the plight of lower-income women,” Schorr says. “Some people think these women are using abortion as birth control, and that’s not true. I go to major donors and say these women are like anyone else. They have the same goals; they are often just down on their luck. I tell donors that if we don’t pay now, we have to look at the long-term costs of unwanted children.”
Most effective campaigns
Meredith finds that, like most groups, reproductive-rights organizations must maintain a robust and diversified fundraising program with income from major donors, planned giving, foundations and corporations, and direct response, including direct mail, telemarketing and online donations.
“The highest percentage of our donations come in response to direct mail, but our online-giving program has been growing very rapidly over the last several years,” she reports. “One indicator of the trust our online donors place in us is that nearly 70 percent of people who give online choose the ‘give where the need is greatest’ option.”