A guest post by ninersgal.
A recent article over at Daily Kos slammed mainstream feminist organizations, such as NOW and NARAL, for constantly asking their supporters for money. The author, Kaili Joy Gray, also criticized these groups for swooping in at the last minute and claiming victory for the defeat of Initiative 26 in Mississippi, when grassroots groups had been doing the mobilizing all along.
I agree with Gray’s critique, but I think she may have been a bit too kind with her criticism. There are several other big name feminist organizations that should have been called out in her post – and I think you know exactly who has the finger pointed at them when I say that.
I have been volunteering for Planned Parenthood for the past three years. At first I was a clinic escort, but that role has shifted over to their advocacy department since the clinic escort program has been eliminated in our state. I volunteer because I want to give back for the health care that I have received over the last ten years. I cannot afford to attend $85 luncheons, let alone write a $250 check. The core volunteer group that I work with has similar motivations – we love Planned Parenthood, but sometimes it feels like our contributions are completely overlooked, especially when we constantly get emails from PPFA asking for more and more money.
My problem doesn’t just reside with Planned Parenthood. Every nonprofit that I have ever worked for, either as a volunteer or a staff member, seems to discount the donor who can only afford to give $5 or $10. Volunteer hours are never calculated in terms of their economic value to the organization. And staff who already contribute to the organization by working long hours for very little pay are also disrespected when they are hit up for money by the development officers. When you’re only making $27,000 a year, how in the hell are you supposed to afford spending $250 a month in financial contributions to your employer?
Here’s the scoop: if PPFA didn’t spend so much money on fancy pink posters and snazzy T-shirts, they might not need to shake the money tree so often. How about asking for money to fund abortions, rather than political lobbying? Oh wait . . . that’s the job of your local abortion fund.
My tenure as a Planned Parenthood volunteer is rapidly coming to a close. I will be shifting my efforts over to my state’s abortion fund for many reasons. The main reason is that I want to know that my efforts are actually contributing to the ability of patients to access care. When the abortion fund asks for money, it’s very happy to accept those $5 and $10 donations – and I know that every penny of it is going directly towards patients’ health care costs. Every hour that I donate of my time goes towards the same goal.
So click on over to Gray’s article and see if you agree or disagree with her criticism of mainstream feminism. I’d love to get your take on the situation.