Moving Money in a Crisis

After the tragedy in Orlando, the New York City RG chapter hosted a conversation about moving money in response to crises. Here are some choice quotes from our discussion:

How to understand Orlando:
“We can’t forget that [Orlando] is one moment in a larger crisis of homophobia, Islamophobia, et cetera. Just like Sandy was one moment in a larger crisis of poverty, broken infrastructure, systemic racism, et cetera.”
“Focusing on gun control distracts from the real issues. This was an example of violence, not just by an individual, but by the state — the homophobic and transphobic laws that have been passed across the U.S., the fact that the shooter worked for G4S, a security firm contracted by the State Department and Israel, for example.”

“Orlando is connected to daily violence of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people of color. People are in crisis around you right now. We fight to live — the state is killing us every day.”

“Powerful people and organizations are using this [post-Orlando] moment to push a political agenda. We might as well promote our agenda, too! We should organize in these moments, too.”

How to approach giving in moments of crisis:
“The real answer of how to fund in a crisis is that you should fund all the time. There’s always a crisis, and most organizations we fund in moments of perceived crisis have been there all along. There are many ways to move money — to grassroots organizations, to intermediaries, to individuals and collectives — but the bottom line is to always be funding these entities, always sustaining organizations and individuals.”

“Be suspicious of organizations that have the capacity to do a ton of fundraising in the middle of a crisis. For example, the Red Cross was not there during Hurricane Sandy. We saw the Human Rights Campaign hitting the streets the day after Orlando. Small organizations who are deep in the work are overextended in the midst of a crisis and can’t afford to ask for money in those moments.”

“I don’t believe in a right or wrong way to give, but I deeply believe that good strategy has so much to do with having an accurate understanding of the circumstances. For example, Everytown for Gun Control was started by Michael Bloomberg, so moving money into an organization run by one of the richest people in the world who formerly ran New York City and promoted Stop and Frisk among other racist policies feels offensive and unstrategic.”

“Nonprofits can be so f**ked up. Not only do they waste a lot of money on overhead, they are only allow poor people to show up for their communities in very specific ways. When you give to individuals, the money goes back into communities. I love seeing that. It’s a political statement to shift money back into the hands of oppressed people.”

“Wherever you’re giving, whether it’s to an individual or a formal nonprofit, you don’t always know where the money is going. Some of it might get lost! In overhead or personal expenses or whatever else. And that’s okay. After all, the financial services industry is based on our money getting lost.”

“It’s important to have things that you give to based on a clear analysis of why it’s strategic to fund them. But it’s also good to give to things that your heart is just fucking in, that you viscerally understand. We don’t want to get numbed out as donors. We need to have some part of ourselves in the game emotionally.”

How to engage with liberal friends and family that don’t understand why/how to fund anything other than massive advocacy nonprofits during times of crisis:
“Ask your friends and family to give to a lot of different places — to a grassroots organizing group AND the Red Cross, for example. Don’t shame them.”

“Invite folks to give to whatever you’re giving to — say, ‘Join me in giving to this organization.’ Be a pop-up ad in someone’s life.”

“Be sure to promote good lists of places to fund. Most of us have access to that kind of info through RG, so share it with your friends and family.”

Bottom line:
“Just do something! Don’t get lost in how complicated this all is.”