Donation Motivation: Girl Scouts of Western Washington, Planned Parenthood, and Better Ways of Getti
If there are three things I love more than almost anything in this world, they're the Girl Scouts (of which Olivia is a member), Planned Parenthood (of which I have been a patient), and money (of which we are both great fans). So, please indulge me for a moment while I write about all three in one triumphant post dedicated to advocacy, efficacy, and philanthropy. Ready? OK!
Photo credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CIyec6cVAAAFICj.jpg
1. Last summer, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington took a brave stand opposed to discrimination against transgender girls when they sent back a donation of $100,000 that came with a demand that the gift not be used to benefit transgender girls. A donation of that size represents almost a quarter of their financial aid money, so the decision to return it, however clear and strongly felt the motivation was to do so, must have hurt. Ever devoted to turning lemons into lemonade (or Lemon Coolers - yum!), GSWW then began the hugely successful For Every Girl campaign on indiegogo.com that raised $338,282 in one month. It was a both a wonderful demonstration of the generous nature of good people to make good decisions toward doing good things and the best use of social media and viral campaigns. Yes, people who donated were offered various levels of swag (we received a #ForEveryGirl patch for Olivia's Daisy vest), but the campaign also actually raised a significant amount of money to ameliorate a discrete and specific shortfall at the same time. It was a movement with bark AND bite, and it actually solved the problem that it set out to solve. For Every Girl was a wonderful exercise in outreach, fundraising, and social media savvy, and it was truly an inspiring moment to witness and participate in.
2. Last week, Planned Parenthood announced that they will no longer accept funds to pay for the costs involved in obtaining, storing, and donating fetal tissue to the National Institutes of Health for scientific research. After months of attacks from right wing groups claiming that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the procurement and delivery of these donations, attacks that eventually led to a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices. As state after state clears Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in their handling of fetal tissue donation and Congress has yet to discover evidence of financial impropriety, what a shame that Planned Parenthood had to resort to essentially paying to donate fetal tissue at women's requests to the National Institutes for Health in order to further advance scientific and medical understanding to benefit the greater good of us all. What a shame that baseless claims and fruitless investigations based on highly edited videos has led to, essentially, Planned Parenthood paying good money from their limited coffers to do us all a big solid. The loss certainly isn't going to bankrupt them or close any clinic doors, but it is an ideological, practical, and financial shame that Planned Parenthood now has to foot the bill to assist the NIH's studies into life-saving new medical treatments that benefit all of us.
I Pinked Out once! I'll do it again, if you just ask, Planned Parenthood!
3. Now, Planned Parenthood hasn't disclosed how much reimbursement money they'll be forgoing in an effort to avoid the distracting, costly, and fruitless battle they currently find themselves embroiled in over nonexistent profits from fetal tissue donation. But wouldn't it be fantastic if Planned Parenthood were able to take a page from the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, publicize the exact amount of lost funds, and start a campaign to replace them? I'm sure that PP's September 29 #PinkOut Day provided a boost in donations, as have other campaigns dedicated to protecting and standing up for Planned Parenthood during the past few months of turmoil. But what was so motivating about the GSWW For Every Girl campaign was its specificity. It was a clear and particular problem that had a clear and particular solution - and the appeal for participating in that soution paid off in spades. The war against choice is so wide-ranging and nebulous that one can develop a certain outrage fatigue in fighting against it. But an exact and definite rally to solve an exact and definite shortfall is wildly persuasive. So often in prolonged political and ethical battles, weary combatants find themselves asking "Well, what can I do?" So tell them! Tell them "We need $X to fix Y-problem," and your troops will rise with checkbooks unsheathed! I donated to Planned Parenthood during the PinkOut Day, just as I've donated before and will donate again. But, oh, how I'd love the rousing clarity of a specific action to take that will truly make an empirical difference.