A monthly reflection on feminist fundraising written by our Director of Partnerships and Communications, Amanda Mercedes Gigler. Twitter @amandagig
“It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber”. This poster hung on my family refrigerator when I was growing up. It formed my thinking about how to resource the collective good. And was the point of departure for my mom educating me about anti-militarist feminism and fundraising.
In our current economic system – late stage capitalism – money is invested primarily in profit-seeking activities. Indeed, it will be a great day when citizen investments, i.e. taxes, are directed toward social justice initiatives rather than bombs.
Feminist fundraising is highly disruptive to capitalism.
Feminist fundraising shows us that we can pool our resources not for profit or for war, but rather to solidly back, support, fund deep social justice activism.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately; how disruptive it can be to ask people for money. How surprising it is to a system that teaches us that private property and private accumulation is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure of success (and, dare I say, happiness?).
And I’ve been thinking about how necessary it is to do feminist fundraising in this late stage of capitalism. Feminist fundraising is a critical part of social change at this point, of redistribution and economic justice today, when wealth is accumulating at the top so intensely.
Capitalism doesn’t expect for people to give money away. That’s not really the point. We’re all expected and encouraged to earn and buy and invest – in goods or services or futures or lucrative / disposable innovations.
The act of releasing one’s hard-earned or inherited money into the feminist universe is not what the global capitalist system is counting on.
Asking for money is disruptive and can be uncomfortable. Most fundraisers come up against this feeling at some point. A feeling that we might get punched in the face by the person we’re asking to give a donation or grant to our organisation. Or the fear that they’ll laugh at us. Or just reject us.
Fundraising takes incredible bravery.
“Feminist organisations like Mama Cash ... are actively chiselling away at the foundations of global capital by the very nature of our business model.”
It will be a great day when our feminist movements get all the resources they need, because we have fully embraced the challenge that fundraising is an act of revolution. Fundraising – and particularly feminist fundraising, with its commitment to a politics of justice – is one of the most subversive acts in all capitalist societies.
What makes it subversive? Feminist organisations, like Mama Cash, who must raise their entire budget each year, are actively chiselling away at the foundations of global capital by the very nature of our business model.
We ask, we invite and we challenge people to uncage their personal or institutional wealth: resources that were most likely generated by either years of labour, wild innovation, luck of birth, exploitations that shouldn’t have happened, and/or luck of the draw, and not by serving humanity. We propose that these funds, money that is, can be raised from their lowly origins to be elevated to a higher purpose.
So the next time you are doing your feminist fundraising, remember that you are uncaging wealth! By raising funds, you are collectivising power and liberating money from its sad, transactional existence.
'Let them eat cake!' said one wealthy woman, who missed her chance to set her money free. Rather: let the free-cake bake sale be the backdrop for our future celebration of the wild successes of feminist fundraising.
Stay tuned next time for my next reflections on Feminist Fundraising and Partnerships: fun! and, sigh.