Abortion funds are united as a network of organizations that are funding abortion and building power to fight for cultural and political change. We’re uniquely powerful because we’re pushing progress at local, regional, and national levels, while offering compassionate, direct service to people needing abortions today. Abortion funds have specialized organizational structures that have distinct infrastructure needs not seen elsewhere in the movement. A key piece of our work at NNAF is to support abortion funds in their formation, growth, sustainability, and connectivity. Read more about abortion funds in this 101.
Every year, we do a membership survey to learn more about the practices, values, and needs of abortion funds in our network, and this year we learned some exciting information:
- In FY17, abortion funds collectively fielded over 150,000 requests for funding with $4.1 million, on a median budget size of about $71,000 and a maximum budget size of $409,554. Abortion funds do a lot on small budgets! Many abortion funds name growing their budget as a top priority.
- The three most important leadership skills identified by abortion funds were fundraising, meaningful engagement with folks in communities most impacted, and strategic development/strategic thinking. Abortion fund members are sophisticated, multi-talented, and values-driven leaders.
- On average, abortion funds are led by eight board members and three staff members, although many funds do not have paid staff. Abortion funds have a median number of 15 volunteers, with a max of 3,400 volunteers! Many abortion funds name the Bowl-a-Thon as a great way for new people to get involved and become a volunteer or board member.
Mars Earle first connected with the Carolina Abortion Fund when they called for funding, which Carolina Abortion Fund was not able to provide at that time. They describe how they moved from being a caller to being the first staff person:
“I was a caller, and a year later there were a bunch of policy barriers happening in North Carolina. I reached out to see if I could get involved and got invited to apply for an internship. After being involved for a year, I applied for and was hired as the fund’s first staff person.”
Shared Values of Abortion Funds
We are co-creating a framework for abortion fund membership to embody intersectionality, autonomy, compassion, and collective power! If movements move at the speed of trust, what might be possible if we have a shared analysis of what our values mean and look like? As we continue to strengthen our network and expand our membership, we are fortifying abortion fund membership in our core values of autonomy, collective power, compassion, and intersectionality. Values alignment is a dynamic process of continuous learning, reflection, and striving to improve how we live out our values in our organizations and beyond. Our goals for the values alignment process in 2017-2018 are as follows:
- Abortion funds will build a shared understanding of the values of intersectionality, autonomy, compassion, and collective power.
- Abortion fund members are able to identify concrete examples within the past year when they were proud of how their fund lived out its values.
- Fund members surface questions and areas of improvement for living out our values in order to land on two values goals.
- Fund leaders will hold values conversation with each other across the network for mutual learning and support around their goals.
Here’s an example of an activity that was part of the process:
Samantha Romero shares her experience:
“I have appreciated the process we’re going through to build values alignment for membership. It sends a clear message about a person or organization’s values and what they’re willing to do for this movement to make sure we’re on the same page with shared understanding and expectations. For me, that’s what leadership and culture change look like.”
“We believe that each person comes to us with a complex decision influenced by their multiple identities and experiences. We fund everyone who asks for our help without judgment or prejudice.” – Aphrodite Medical Access Fund
“Intersectionality is integral to our work. When we talk about identity, lived experiences, and different forms of systemic and institutionalized oppression, we acknowledge how these issues are intrinsically connected and can show up many ways in our lives. Whether we are providing abortion funding to one of our Hoosier Diaper Program clients, assisting folks in signing up for health insurance or registering to vote, sending letters to incarcerated survivors as part of our monthly RJ action hours, facilitating statewide and community workshops, or encouraging supporters to host house parties through our direct service and community engagement work, we are always working towards a vision of justice for our communities.” – Hoosier Abortion Fund (All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center)
“Compassion is the most basic and most necessary ingredient in abortion care. It is how we decide to hire people at the clinic and how we treat people who come to us for care. One example is understanding patients who have had multiple abortions and separating medical fact (ie. it’s not a risk to health) and people’s judgment of them.” – Aphrodite Medical Access Fund
“We are intentional about not shaming or re-traumatizing callers. Callers can be harmed by the ways we intersect with them. It’s our job to avoid that. We are proud of providing and teaching compassionate care and we are a soft landing point instead of part of an oppressive system.” – Women’s Medical Fund
“We know that firstly, we need to have compassion for ourselves as we do this work. It feels like being gentle with one another while committing to relationship development and holding each other accountable. We experienced compassion when a founding board member had to step away from their commitment.” – Frontera Fund
“Autonomy means funding abortions for people who face barriers to healthcare access. In collaboration with statewide partners, West Fund worked on ReproPowerTX, an initiative to fight for reproductive rights at the local level. It felt great to participate in a statewide initiative, while still being an autonomous partner able to focus on the needs locally and the community we serve. We worked with local orgs to create a local policy agenda we really believe in. It took collaboration, feedback, conversations about our mission, vision and values.” – West Fund
“We know that bodily and reproductive autonomy is a core human right and must inform all of our activities. In our counseling, when we break through stigma to build a sense of empowerment, it feels like we are making a difference. We answer 10,000 emails a month, and each one feels like we are building that individual’s autonomy. We celebrate this at our team meetings!” – Women Help Women
“Collective power is fundamental to fighting for social change. At All-Options, this means cross-movement building, investing in critical social and political issues, and centering and investing in marginalized and underrepresented communities. Last year we worked collaboratively with other members of the Indiana Reproductive Justice Coalition to collect over 2,000 valentines to send to state legislators.” – Hoosier Abortion Fund (All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center)
“Collective power is the political base of the MARIA Fund as we are convinced that support networks are the fundamental basis for improving people’s lives. We experience collective power when our connections living outside Mexico City create fundraising activities, even though it’s a very restrictive context to do so.” – MARIA Fund
“For us, collective power means having a large base of support of donors who support other social justice groups. We rely on informal systems for our collective power, and we harness it. We are a conduit/intermediary, so we contribute to collective power.” – Jane Fund of Central Massachusetts