behind the scenes of the Just Posts

The January Just Posts, the last anniversary gift of my social justice marriage to Mad are on the horizon. And while we've got some exciting news to unveil on the 12th, we thought we'd seize the opportunity to give you a glimpse of what has gone on behind the scenes over these past two years. The following string of emails starts in early November and ends in mid-December.

Jen: am probably getting ahead of myself but I can't help it. There's an organization in South Africa that Helena is involved with that needs our help and I was thinking of doing a call to action to raise some money. But if you aren't down with this I can do it on my own and tie it into the JPs in the piece that I write. i realize i'm getting all renegade and don't want to speak for both of us. but damn, they are only asking for $1.71 per kid to ensure they each have what they need for Xmas.

Jen, I appreciate your enthusiasm but I can't do this. I just can't. I am so swamped with work, volunteer and home projects right now that I am hardly reading anyone's blogs at all. I don't feel comfortable asking people for money at the best of times but given how bad a blog a citizen I've been these last few months, I feel especially uncomfortable about it all right now. Besides, such a call to action requires a commitment to blogging that I have lost. I can scarce muster the energy for a post or two a week. To be on the ball enough--in December no less--for a joint fundraiser? Nuh uh. I also can't see myself asking people for money during a recession at Christmas. That's all there is to it.

Jen: I understand. I do. It's totally fine. Sorry to barrage you with this. I can do it and not make it an official part of the JPs. I know the recession is scary. It's terrifying me in particular for poor people. Non profits are closing programs even as more people are in need. We've seen many NEW faces needing help every month. Every month. New. It's staggering.
I love you. Sorry for being pushy. I mean it.


Jen: The activist side of me says we can get one more community fundraising project done with our last hurrah. sorry i can't help myself. but we could. don't kick me.

Mad: Here are my thoughts on community fundraising: When we did the Just Post fundraiser in June 2007, I gave $100 to the small community fundraising project you advocated. (I think I gave some to it and some to Stephen Lewis, I can't remember exactly.) As far as the Stephen Lewis foundation goes, that org is not a one-off for me. I will continue to give to it over the years for a whole host of reasons most of which have to do with social justice but some of which are more practical, like getting a tax receipt and knowing that I can always find out its profile as a charitable org.

The group you advocated was a one-off donation for me. B/c it's an American org, I can't budget my giving b/c it is always contingent upon the value of my dollar. I get no tax receipt to help maximize my gift, and it's not as easy to keep track of the organization. The problem with one-off gifts, though, is that the organization in question never believes any gift is a one-off. In the year and a half since I gave to said organization, I have received numerous funding requests from them. Each one has spent at least $2 American in postage--not to mention the costs of printing promotional material and photographs. This organization may have heart but it is not very well run administratively: just last week I received, all on the same day, 4 identical, huge envelopes promoting their Christmas campaign. The cost in postage alone was more than $14 US. By now, they have spent as much, if not more, than my original gift simply trying to woo me back. This breaks my heart b/c it feels as if I simply threw my money out the window when I could have invested it more wisely closer to home.

So -- fundraising. It is my fervent belief that if we are going to ask people for money, we should encourage them to pick an organization that they believe in and then ask them to take the leap to becoming an ongoing supporter. Who can't afford $10 or $20 a month deducted regularly from their account or put on their VISA? (I'm sure most of our readers do some form of this anyway.) This kind of giving is the only sure fire way to maximize the impact of the giving. If we were to ask that and then ask people to name the org and write a post about it, we could have a right proper send off next month WITH a lasting legacy. Just trying to be astute and not a killjoy. What think you?

Jen:You've nailed some of the principle laments of NPOs. We must keep asking. We ask and ask and ask and sometimes, yes, it costs more to ask than sometimes we receive. I suppose I'll forever fall into the camp of grassroots organizing. If it might cost $200 to house a child for a year in South Africa, then we can all give $10 and get it done without a major impact on any one person. Plus we collectively stood up against that issue.

And I suppose it frustrates me when folks say they have no money. They say they have no money in their nice car with their latte. They say they have no money as they buy four gifts instead of two. Some people really have no money, their budget keeps them housed and fed and that is literally and only all there is. I know this too.

People are dying every single day because we all have our heads up our asses in terms of resources distribution. We can't solve any of that b/c we get 30 people to give $5. I know this too.

One of the things that scares me a bit about our move is being broken hearted by new injustices of poverty in a 3rd world country. Sometimes I don't know how to manufacture my heart to beat any other way, I see the discrepancies and I literally feel I could go batshit crazy. I see my own hypocrisies and want to beat myself around the head. Last night I helped a mom w/ a four day old baby make a bed for herself on my concrete floor surrounded by 100 people from the streets. I had M with me so at first I think she thought I was staying there too. When I said to her that it was time to go she looked at me and said "you aren't staying?". So my 4-yr-old daughter asked if we could spend the night and yet I knew I would never, ever allow it and if I truly wanted to I could have let these people sleep at my house too. Instead her baby slept on the concrete floor wrapped in old blankets. He is four days into this world in the fucking united states of america. We drove home in a car with heat and had a snack with food from our fridge and went to bed in our home. He slept on the floor.

This work of mine has colored me. I like to think it's been for the best but i really do not know. You are balance. You can see the world in a way that I struggle to. It's more pragmatic. My way is an inconsistent albatross. It's a long way of saying I hear you. I do. And your way is a good way. Folks choose how they want if they want where they want and it's good.

Mad: Yes. Folks choose where they want to give BUT WE INSIST THAT THEIR GIFT BE SIGNIFICANT AND ONGOING. We can even recommend orgs that we believe in. It is the only way. What we should do, Jen, is post these email exchanges. Your heart and your dire f-ing reality vs my pragmatic head. We've walked a tightrope with this for two years straight. I think the Just Posts have been made better by the way we balance each other out. We have both changed considerably b/c of our conversations off-blog. Let's say goodbye by making those conversations, that struggle, public.

Jen: I'm in.

Dear Readers, What say you? Are you a pragmatist or a Heart of Gold? Or are you some other kind of hybrid altogether? Will you join us in becoming an ongoing financial supporter of a cause you believe in? Will you write about it on your blogs or in your tweets? Will you help to raise money AND the profile of organizations that desperately need aid?

And that's what we are asking for as our farewell gift. Send us your link by the 8th and we'll include it in our last Just Post Roundtable on the 12th. You can send your links to me at girlplustwo(at)yahooDOTcom.

Cross posted under Mad's hat.

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