Giving Tuesday, Mutual Aid, and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

This #GivingTuesday, choose to fund abortion, community organizing, and other local mutual aid efforts.

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Full transparency: Non-profits are part of—and inherently benefit from—the system that oppresses their clients. As a 501(c)3, AFO is inherently part of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC). We take explicit responsibility for & measures to reduce harm as part of this system. 

Like many abortion funds, we started as a mutual aid collective—a group of community members helping one another receive the healthcare they needed. As that project expanded, the org incorporated to gain some protection against the state’s oppression. Though many abortion funds are 501(c)3 organizations today, we operate out of deep community-driven, mutual aid lens.

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Here are 5 ways we divest from philanthropy & charity models in favor of mutual aid:

1. 100% of grassroots fundraising funds community member’s financial and practical support needs: We cover the cost of staff salaries & other administrative costs through private foundation grants. This allows us to function more like unincorporated mutual aid orgs.

2. Contributions are made in solidarity: Over 90% of AFO’s donations are at or under $50. Our clients, funders, staff, and board pool our collective resources to meet each others’ needs. We reject reliance on wealthy saviors. We know that we keep us safe: not the rich & not the state. 

3. Client eligibility isn’t determined by income, ‘merit’, immigration status, or other means of separating “deserving” & “undeserving” folks: AFO respects clients’ privacy & acknowledges their wholeness as humans. A person’s need isn’t tied to their perceived piety, ‘goodness’, or other subjective metric we impose. A charity model can’t account for the barriers—visible or invisible—that clients face, which often leads to substantial gaps in aid.

4. Build decision-making & power structures rooted in consensus rather than hierarchy: AFO’s Board uses a consensus model for decision-making, and AFO’s staff makes decisions in a round-table model reject white supremacist & capitalist models of superiority.

5. Focus on Cross-organizational & Cross-Movement Solidarity: Though AFO’s work is rooted in reproductive justice, there cannot be true reproductive justice without the work of racial justice, disability justice, environmental justice, trans & queer justice, etc. Though we believe in our work as an organization, we also believe the work of our comrades in repro & beyond.

Abortion funds are—at their core—centers for mutual aid & community care. We acknowledge that as a non-profit, we are unwilling perpetrators of the systems harming our communities. AND, we are using this structure to meet folks’ most critical needs, reducing the harm caused by this system.

If you give today, make it towards mutual aid. Ohio has several abortion funds: 


Additional Mutual Aid & Harm-Reduction Efforts