As we recognize the labor and risk that abortion providers take on, let’s also remember that office managers, fund distributors, advocacy coordinators, digital organizers, and behind the seen admins are also acting with fierce courage and dedication, protected from some types of public scrutiny but slammed by trolls, protesters, and a huge volume of work. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I celebrate you! I see your work in the long, long history of clerical activists, a history which I am working hard to document.
As we make “rage donations” (h/t Rachel H for the term), let’s remember that behind those donation screens, real people are processing receipts, tax letters, thank you notes, and reconciliation with accounting systems. Many small orgs in the reproductive justice world are operating off of spreadsheets which are GREAT and (as we all know) require a lot of manual futzing! As the progressive movement has resisted truly investing in infrastructure, when watershed moments happen like this one, sometimes our systems are not quite ready to scale. This puts a lot of stress on already underappreciated staff and volunteers. If you are reading this, I honor you and I offer my support if you need any spreadsheet help.
As the public outrage hits a fever pitch, matching what you already know deep in your bones, I promise you grace and forgiveness as systems inevitably break, take more time, change at the pace of trust. I invite you to claim space and resources for operations (we learned how important this is from the MN Freedom Fund debacle) and to publicly pause when you have reached capacity. I promise that my attention span won’t wane while you rise to the occasion.
As we work to surround and protect public-facing advocates and abortion providers, let’s also wrap admins with the same love and defenses. My friends who are MOST knowledgeable about digital security are abortion fund administrators and sex worker advocates, who are vulnerable to digital attacks and political/legal consequences for their work, with little of the glamour and reputation that we afford to protest leaders. If you are reading this, I’m here for you!
I have been seeing lots of amazing social media posts amplifying calls to donate to mutual aid and abortion funding groups. Keep doing it! Meanwhile, let’s all expect and acknowledge that it takes time and knowledge to oversee those kinds of activities, prioritizing inbound requests, processing disbursements of funds, and keeping track of it all. I’ve worked in small ways to support the admin functions of Bail Funds, Sex Worker Solidarity Funds, and Abortion Funds and I think it’s high time that we admit that those change agents should be recognized (and compensated) for their behind the screens work. Not all “overhead and admin” costs are suspicious when we agree that administrative efforts are movement building efforts. The drive to minimize these activities makes me WAY more terrified than the alternative!
If you are up to your ears in donations and need help uploading them into your database system, cleaning up your spreadsheets, or just want to vent about it all, I am 100% here and available to listen, problem solve, and cheer you on.
Most of us aren’t in it for the credit, but nonetheless, I want to give credit where it is due. Dear admins of the reproductive justice movement, I am stupid proud of you, I love you, and I know we are in good hands because of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!