This fall, the crisis in Texas is weighing heavily on the minds of abortion fund staff and volunteers across the country — but it also reinforces the significance of our work to fund abortions and build power in communities.
Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF) recognized the need to address the growing threat to abortion access and built part of their “Tacobout It” virtual community gathering around current events and education.
“Everyone is feeling kind of uncertain about what’s going on, what they can do to help, and how CAF fits into this national conversation,” explains Alicia Hurtado, Communications Associate and long-time supporter at Chicago Abortion Fund.
The event also focused on highlighting news and opportunities to engage with CAF — such as helpline stats and recruitment for new case member volunteers — and heart-to-heart conversations with smaller groups in breakout rooms. In times when it’s easy to log in and then quickly disconnect, Hurtado says this was a great way to have real conversations and for brand-new supporters, board members, volunteers, and former grantees to get to know one another.
“‘Tacobout It’ is special because it’s not at all intimidating. It’s an easy way to get plugged in: make a donation, drink beer or eat a taco, post a picture, maybe log on to Zoom and meet a bunch of people who also care about abortion access.”
It’s also a chance to highlight the political advocacy work of abortion funds. Hurtado sees Taco or Beer Challenge as different from Fund-a-Thon or end-of-the-year fundraising appeals: “We can engage with people wherever they’re at and build an enduring base of supporters energized and prepared to take action in their communities.”
“Taco or Beer Challenge is a fun time, but because of #SB8 [the new Texas abortion law], it’s also been a heavy time that has led to a lot of deep reflection,” says Nora Simmons, board member and long-time volunteer at Baltimore Abortion Fund. “But we’re even more motivated to face the challenges and most importantly to serve our callers.”
This year, Baltimore Abortion Fund offered two ways to engage with Taco or Beer Challenge. Their online raffle (every donation of $10 yielded one entry) helped spotlight the upcoming launch of the fund’s merchandise store, featuring an original sweatshirt design by artist, activist, and Blue Ridge Abortion Fund Board Member Caitlin Blunnie.
And local worker cooperative vegan restaurant/bookstore/community event space Red Emma’s hosted an outdoor happy hour, crafting a special jackfruit taco just for the event and donating a portion of bar and food sales to BAF. “We’re so lucky to find partners that are plugged into the Baltimore community and dedicated to giving back and supporting movements like ours,” Simmons says of the collaboration.
The flexibility of ToBC is what makes it successful, says Simmons. “Businesses, supporters — everyone can engage on so many levels. It’s got this great accessibility and a ‘make-it-your-own’ feeling.”