By Glenn Scott
When DSA’s Feminist Working Group (FWG) launched a fundraising campaign to expand abortion access for low-income women via Abortion Bowl-a-thons, Austin DSA decided to combine the bowl-a-thon with a showing of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a recent documentary about the U.S. women’s liberation movement from 1960 to 1971.
Some 70 people attended the film showing, which was both the chapter’s first public feminist event and one of the largest actions the chapter has sponsored since being chartered in the fall of 2014. What follows are components of what made the event a success:
1. Get buy-in. FWG member Alice Embree proposed the event to Austin DSA and got unanimous support. She signed up at least nine volunteers at the meeting.
2. Set up a planning committee. We established a committee of DSA bowling team members and others. We purposefully recruited young women, both in and outside DSA, to work on this event. The committee divided up tasks. One member enlisted her church to approve hosting the event at a central location with free parking. Other members distributed flyers around the University of Texas, the community college, bookstores, and coffee houses. We also flyered at several feminist events.
3. Use social media. One young ally on our committee set up a Facebook event page and we each invited our FB friends. By five days out, we had 35 committed. Another young member set up a Meetup announcement on the documentary fan club site. Our DSA co-chairs put out an email invite to all members of DSA, and all planning committee members sent out emails to their networks.
4. Coordinate with allies. We connected to the Lilith Fund of Austin, which would receive the funds. One of our committee, Meaghan Perkins (new DSA member) invited Rosann Mariapurnam, a Lilith Fund board member, to speak at the event. Mariapurnam made clear the daunting barriers women in Texas face in obtaining legal abortions and the pressing need for contributions.
5. Keep track of details. Alice rode herd on all the logistical details from food, flyers, projector, signs at event, screen, set up, thank-you notes, and crediting the funds to the fundraising site.
6. Remind people more than once. We sent reminders to FB invitees, emails, and texts, in the three days leading up to the event. Almost 40% of the Facebook confirms attended, which is a very high percentage.
7. Promote DSA. At the event, Alice and I both acknowledged DSA as the sponsor. Co-chair Allison Behr was at the sign-in table. Co-chair Danny Fetonte talked with people about membership after they signed in. Alice talked about DSA’s national effort on abortion access. I did a brief introduction and brought the planning committee up front so that people could see that we were intergenerational.
8. Leverage the event. Thanks to our emails and online fundraising in addition to the film showing, we tripled our initial $500 fundraising goal by the date of our bowl-a-thon. DSA fielded two teams, each made up of young people. Older DSA members and allies were the cheering squad. Our committee brought a DSA banner, pompoms, kazoos, and costumes. Committee member Taylor Borgfeldt brought “Design your own Fallopian Fans” with a fallopian tubes graphic, markers, glue, and glitter. We have established DSA as a strong ally on abortion access. Four new members joined DSA during our campaign. Several more are interested in working with us. In addition, we now have a core group for a DSA feminist committee to do ongoing work.
Glenn Scott, a longtime union organizer and feminist activist, is a member of Austin DSA.
This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 (early June) issue of the Democratic Left magazine.
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