Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Backfire: Turning Pickets Into Pledges

This is so cool what some Planned Parenthood affiliates are doing:
It's an ingenious idea. Create a no-win situation for anti-choice protesters — the more picketers who demonstrate outside a Planned Parenthood clinic, the more donations the Planned Parenthood clinic receives.

A number of Planned Parenthood affiliates have created different versions of this scenario. Here's how it works at Planned Parenthood of Central Texas (PPCT) in Waco, where the Pledge-a-Picket program is going strong: Each time a protester shows up at the clinic, a donation is made to PPCT. This campaign makes lemonade out of lemons by allowing Planned Parenthood supporters to pledge between 25 cents and one dollar per protester.

Despite the low pledge cap, which is designed to encourage donations, the money adds up, especially since the picketers never go away. Every month, participating donors get a short update on activities and a monthly billing for their pledge. It's like sponsoring a runner in a charity marathon.

Once a week, PPCT puts a sign outside its clinic that says, "Even Our Protesters Support Planned Parenthood." To date, the Pledge-a-Picket program has raised $18,000 for PPCT. While not a significant chunk of its overall revenues, Pledge-a-Picket contributes greatly to PPCT's patient assistance fund, which helps clients who don't have resources get the care they need.

Since Pledge-a-Picket was launched in January 2002 the number of supporters who are eager to do something positive for PPCT has increased. A sign indicating the amount of money raised is continually updated, so protesters know how much money they are making for the affiliate every time they show up, some with children who are also counted.

According to organizers, when the program was first launched, some of the protesters would shout, "Count me, count me!" not realizing apparently that they were raising money for the organization they were protesting.

Though PPCT is the only affiliate in Texas with the Pledge-a-Picket fundraising program, other affiliates around the country have had success with similar programs, including Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge (VA), Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, Planned Parenthood of Mid-Hudson Valley (NY), Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood (NY), Planned Parenthood Northern Michigan, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (VT), Planned Parenthood of the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Area (FL), Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (MO), and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

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