Thanks to the amazing fundraising from Kink Out last year we’ve been able to make it through the first half of this year focusing mostly on boosting individual fundraisers and those of other incredible groups providing vital services and organizing in our community. Our monthly donors, Jacq the Stripper donating a percentage of her Tired Slut clothing sales, and some very timely fundraising events by Tart Parlor have also been imperative to keeping the fund going through these slow summer months. Going into August we are now one month out from the end of our stipend budget and the emergency fund is running on empty, which means it’s time for us to do our own big fundraising push! Since we’re a nationally operating fund functioning as a primarily internet based entity, we’ll be doing the bulk of our fundraising online but we’ll also be returning to our organizing roots in NYC for a streaming event at The Loveshack paired with a sexy dance party at The Deep End Thursday, August 22nd. We know it’s short notice and some people may still be out of town for the summer but we hope at least a few of you will be able to join us!
As we get further into the second year since the passage of SESTA/FOSTA and draw near to entering our collective’s third year in existence we’d also like to take some time to reflect on our goals from last year and what directions we hope to grow going into 2020. As many of you know, when we originally began organizing during the initial Backpage raids in 2016 our intention was to exist as a locally Brooklyn focused mutual aid group but due to circumstances that have brought several of our core members to other parts of the country and the need for a sustainably functioning fund that serves workers in crisis across the U.S. we’ve been operating as an online based collective for the majority of our existence. We’ve found some advantages to this are that we save significantly on base operating expenses by not maintaining permanent physical locations which makes it possible for us to dedicate as much money as possible towards the emergency fund. As our request base has extended past our original organizing network it also means one of our main concerns has become ensuring that our funding is going to actual workers in need without relying too heavily on verification barriers that are inaccessible to workers who do not have an online work presence. We’ve also found that $100-$200 often goes further towards restabilizing more privileged workers experiencing temporary work interruptions than it does for those who are struggling with longer term income and housing instability.
For these reasons, one of our main objectives this past year has been to bridge this gap in services by partnering with more local activists who are able to vouch for workers who need funds but do not advertise online and may not have reliable internet access. This also makes it so that we can try to connect the people we give funds to with additional resources and local community as a way to stretch those funds farther than just a room for one night and a meal. On this front, we still have strong connections to resources in NYC and our core members in Atlanta and Colorado have been getting to know their local organizers and resources as they’ve been settling into their new homes. These new foundations have certainly yielded positive results in our ability to get financial resources to more workers who may not have known about us or been able to get assistance otherwise. They also come with a new set of worries about being able to sustainably keep up with a growing volume of requests and increasing need to send out more payments via Western Union which makes the added fees associated with sending money a more expensive endeavor.
We’re also really excited to see other great new regionally active mutual aid groups like Whose Corner is it Anyway, Bay Area Workers Support, Sweet AZ and The Chrysalis House growing rapidly and to be hearing from workers around the country who want to organize similar local groups of their own. We also can’t forget to mention The Black Sex Worker Collective who provide funds exclusively to the Black SW community! We’re hoping that as we connect with other similar groups we can find more efficient community based solutions for these issues with getting cash to workers without payment apps or bank accounts and to be able to work in collaboration with other funds to help fill needs for folks who need higher amounts than our individual groups can offer alone.
Our other main focus this year has been the creation of our stipend budget. Entirely volunteer based organizing has perks for saving expenses on paid employees but it also makes it very difficult for folks who do not have free time or money to dedicate towards pursuits outside of work to take on long term leadership positions. Since we are not well funded enough to create full time paid positions we’ve tried to strike a balance by creating monthly supplementary stipend positions for a few of the extraordinary activists who do a huge amount of work for our community but who’s labor is often taken for granted or exploited by better funded non-profits. All of our core members are working multiple hustles, doing organizing and providing community resources outside of Lysistrata in addition to trying to grow their own orgs, businesses, consulting and creative projects. This is certainly not uncommon in the SW world, but what is surprising is that many of these individuals are well known names doing some of the best direct work in our community while funding for much better paid positions tends to go towards privileged workers doing more glorified and visible legal/policy work. We understand it’s very important to change laws that target our criminalized community and are thrilled about some of the great strides the decrim groups have made this year but it’s important to remember that building up resources for workers who have dire needs now is a vital part of fostering a strong foundation for resistance and organizing among more marginalized members of our movement as well. Currently our members who receive payment for their time and expertise are Jenna Torres, Ceyenne Doroshow, Laura LeMoon, Yaya Atta and Jay Dash. We would love to be able to raise enough to offer more to these activists or to be able to fully fund their own individual work but right now we’ll be happy to be able to keep paying them at all after September.
We know that everyone’s orgs are underfunded and that most folks’ incomes are running a little thin so we absolutely understand if now is not a good time to give financially. There are many other ways to help though!
Help make our Gofundme fun!
If you’re an artist or business owner with some extra art, merch, or coupons you’d be willing to donate for us to have available as rewards on the Gofundme that would do a lot to help give our potential donors some perks for sharing.
If you’re a high profile member of our community who would be willing to donate a 2-3 minute video of you talking about your background in the industry and how it’s helped you grow as an activist/artist/business person we’d love to put a bunch of these inspirational perspectives together in a longer video to have available as a fundraising reward.
As our fundraiser spreads both of these options have the added benefit of advertising your work as well!
Be a part of our NYC Fundraisers!
We are still looking for speakers, performers, volunteers and help promoting for both events August 22nd.
The event at The Loveshack will be a smaller recorded/streaming event that workers around the country can participate in via Zoom link, so this one is accessible for folks who live outside of NYC and want to be included or who are out of town for the event date.
The event at The Deep End will also have tabling opportunities, a fetish/lap dance room, VIP tables and a special QTPOC exclusive area. Spaces will be available for folks who want to come hustle and are willing to contribute part of their earnings to the fundraiser.
These events are going to be produced in collaboration with CutiePOC, GLITS Inc, Liaison Consulting Services, I Am Jenna Torres and SWOP Bronx (a new chapter led by trans POC!). We’ll also be celebrating Jay’s 40th birthday so it is definitely going to be a night to remember! Special thanks to Britta & Alex Love and the management/staff at The Deep End for sharing their spaces for our fundraisers.
Broaden our network!
We’re working on compiling information on SW owned businesses, community organizing and resources that provide competent direct services to the SW community, especially for locations outside of major metropolitan areas or that don’t have active SW led groups. We’re also happy to offer advice on getting new groups started! If you’d like your business or group to be added to a directory that can be made available on our website, to workers in your area who get in touch with us for assistance or to be shared on our social media we would love to find out more about your work and goals.
If you have some spare time and are interested in volunteering we have a call script and sample resource docs available from LCS so you can call around to your local SW adjacent groups and find out who wants to work with and improve their understanding of our community’s needs!
Give us a Signal Boost!
Since we’re a funding focused group we have a following that gets asked for money a lot. Getting word about the fund into fresh networks, especially ones outside of the SW community or sex positive spaces where people have income to spare is always a necessity to keep up with our growing request volume! It’s easy to share this call for support on your social media via link from our website.
Grant Writing/Business Development resources!
We have a few upcoming grant deadlines that we’ll be submitting applications for but we have had a hard time keeping up with the schedules for some of the larger and more complicated grant processes while maintaining the day-to-day operations of the fund and keeping up with our other work demands. If grant writing is a skill of yours and you’d be willing to help with the process or at least offer some guidance on writing effective grants this would help take a lot of fundraising pressure off of us!
We also have some organizational/business development needs that we have a strong start on, but advice from someone who specializes in these areas would go a long way towards getting these tasks completed.
And, of course, if you do happen to have disposable income at the moment, now is an excellent time to make a one time donation via our website, PayPal paypal.me/lysistratamccf, Venmo/Cashapp @LysistrataMCCF or to sign up to become a monthly donor.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support!