Reproductive Rights

Note from Susan Bass, WRJ President

Hopefully by now you have had a chance to decompress and get some sleep after our busy time together at the WRJ Board meeting and for some of us, the Social Justice Conference, the Consultation on Conscience, and the CSA meeting. I hope you all agree that it was a stimulating and engaging week, with much to keep us occupied in the coming months. As we discussed during the meeting, among our ‘take-aways’ was the commitment to work with the RAC on the Reproductive Justice Campaign (RJC) as part of the Brit Olam initiative. In the coming weeks we will be working with the RAC to create the tools and resources and prepare to provide staff support to the congregational cohort that we anticipate starting over the summer.

I want to share with you a plan for the RJC that we have developed since the meeting. Those of us at the Consultation witnessed how powerful and electric the response was on reproductive justice issues. It became clear that we have an opportunity to expand upon our #wrjwomenact work and engage people in this campaign in a very broad and deep way. While we have the internal staff capacity to do the work we have agreed to at a basic level, we believe there is appetite – actually a hunger – for a more robust engagement. And we believe there are women and others eager to participate in and support such an effort. In fact, unsolicited funds have already started coming into the WRJ office – as well as angst-filled calls from sisterhood presidents and others challenging us to do more.

With that in mind, we would like to launch a fundraising effort around the campaign to allow us to engage a dedicated campaign manager. In addition to the basic work of providing web-tools, action alerts, webinars, and zoom calls, a campaign manager would represent WRJ in coalitions and proactively engage sisterhoods and congregations on a state-by-state basis as the issue picks up steam following passage of the Alabama law. Anti-abortion activity even seems to be picking up in Canada, and we have already begun conversations with the new CCRJ staff member, Sandi Pelly, about the issue. Attached for your review are a campaign overview and a major donor fundraising prospectus; I think these documents will answer many of the questions I’m sure you have.

Our fundraising plan is as follows. We would like to quietly raise at least $150,000 to assure that we have the funds to engage a full-time campaign manager for two years (that will cover salary and benefits). We would like to do this within 2-3 weeks (seriously!) by soliciting five-figure gifts, payable over two years, from select donors. (Of course, we will accept gifts of any amount during this initial phase of the campaign, but we will initially be soliciting larger gifts and pledges.) We will do that by reaching out to known prospects and past WRJ donors as well as asking board members to consider those within their own networks who have the passion and the means to support this effort. This is the ‘quiet’ phase of initial fundraising that is typical of most major campaigns, during which we will strive to obtain 1/3-1/2 of the desired amount up front. The donor prospectus document lists the higher amounts for sponsorship levels and that document is intended for conversations with major donors.

Once we hit the $150,000 benchmark we will initiate the public phase of the campaign, which will be for donations of any size. At that point we will let everyone in our orbit know about the fundraising effort, with an overall goal of $400,000-$500,000 for a two-year campaign effort. For the public phase, we will reach out to those who attended SJC, FLC, district conventions, WRJ sisterhood & district leadership, and our advocacy list – and anyone else we can think of! And we will encourage individuals to share the information via Facebook and other social media.

As you can see from the timeline, there is a sense of urgency, as we would like to deepen our work as soon as possible. We hope you will consider those in your network who may be interested in supporting this effort and either notify Marla or reach out to your contacts initially yourself. (FYI, our incoming Philanthropy Manager started this week.)

This is a fast-moving train, and we hope you will all be on board! There is much work to be done, and we are grateful to you for the work we will continue to do together to advance our mission!
In gratitude for your support,