Women and Politics

A blog from WCF about the state of women and politics

Archive for the ‘Vote With Your Purse’ Category

The $27 Election Revolution & More Ways For Women To Contribute

Jill Miller Zimon is one of WCF’s MsRepresentation bloggers in the final weeks of the 2010 election.

money bagLast week, MsRepresentation covered the issue of women, philanthropy and breaking the glass piggy bank. To recap, studies show that women give more than men when it comes to traditional philanthropy.

But when it comes to political donations, men’s contributions far exceed those of women, and even when women do give, it appears that they give more to male candidates than female!  You can see more on this data at WCF’s Vote With Your Purse.

What will it take for women to realize the power they have?

For one, the creation of efforts such as the Women Under Forty PAC (WufPAC) and The Mother PAC in Oregon. Through such organizations, we can support candidates and issues that matter to us and to all women: gender parity in elected office and the pursuit of work-life policies that benefit all Americans

But even more generally, there are causes of all kinds that have political action committees to which we can contribute and make a difference, such as WCF PAC, where 100% of your donation goes directly to WCF-Endorsed women candidates who support reproductive health choices.

And this is why women seriously should consider how much we have yet to give and look to the motivation behind an idea initiated more than two years ago by Joanne Bamberger via PunditMom’s $27 Election Revolution:

Several months ago, I read Melinda Henneberger’s book, If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Men to Hear.

As she was promoting her book, Henneberger quoted a statistic in one article that if every woman who voted in the 2006 national elections had contributed just $27 to any presidential candidate or party, we would pour $1.3 billion dollars into the political system.

Mm-hmm. That’s billion with a ‘b.’

That’s an amazing amount of money, and beats out by a very long distance even the “secret” money that concerns so many of us.  Joanne got going:

Starting today, I’m launching PunditMom’s $27 Election Revolution.

I’m asking each of you to think about cutting back on the Starbucks just a little bit and contribute $27 to the candidate or political party of your choice. It doesn’t have to be John McCain or Barack Obama. It doesn’t even have to be a presidential candidate -- there are plenty of candidates running for national and local offices who could use a little extra cash to get out their messages.

If we pool our money, so much the better. But imagine what our $1.3 billion dollars would do, even as individual contributions, to increase the volume of our political voices. Even John McCain would have to sit up and take notice of the issues we think are important.

Still worried about your money will just get used in ways you wouldn’t approve? I know how you feel. Just after the 2006 elections, I asked the Ohio Democratic Party and Ohio Republican Party chairs what we can do about negative campaigning.  Chris Redfern, the ODP chair responded by saying, if you don’t like the ads, don’t give the people who pay for them the money.

But why can’t we reverse that? What if we used our pocket power to influence and incentivize campaigns we like and campaigns we’d like to see?  If you think they don’t exist, consider this one from U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).  No name-calling, no nasty images, no gimmicks. Just the candidate’s voice and own words. Convincing and clean.

If women want change, we need to find ways to promote that change.  Making monetary political donations is one very powerful way not only to promote the change we want, but to show support for those people who exemplify the change we want to see - on the campaign trail and in office.  We can set this challenge, and meet it.  And we should.

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Spotlight on Rachel’s Network: Women protecting the environment

As part of WCF’s efforts to collaborate with other Sister Allied Organizations, I’m meeting with as many great leaders as possible. I often say that I’m the new kid on the block, and have so much to learn from these women whom I admire greatly for their work.

Last week, I met with Winsome McIntosh and Kate Drummond from Rachel’s Network.

“Rachel’s Network’s mission is to promote women as impassioned leaders and agents of change dedicated to the stewardship of the earth.”

Their sister organization, Rachel’s Action Network, is “dedicated to promoting and supporting women leaders who are advocates for a healthy environment.” Rachel’s Network founder, Winsome McIntosh, is a certified rock star in the environmental world. She has taken her own philanthropic dollars and invested in ensuring that women who care about the environment support it by running for office. She has also undertaken the very brave work of assisting the women electeds on the Hill to connect with one another and develop relationships - so that more meaningful legislation can be drafted to make a difference. She is truly a visionary, which is not an easy role.

WCF worked with Winsome McIntosh on our online bundling project in 2008. It was a great experience for both her and us, because we’re equally committed to helping women influence social change by changing their contribution habits. Our Vote With Your Purse research shows that while women give the majority of charitable dollars in this country, they do no make the connection that investing financially in candidates - especially women candidates that care about the same issues - is essential.

But Winsome McIntosh understands this. Please go visit Rachel’s Network’s website and if the environment is something you care passionately about, this organization is a great fit for you.

WCF and I look forward to working with them in the future.

Vote With Your Purse: Women Still Don’t Open Their Wallets

Ladies: A couple questions for you.

Vote With Your PurseHow much do you give to charity every year - a certain percentage of your income? Depends on the cause?

Now, how much do you give to candidates every year? How about just women candidates?

A pretty stark difference, eh? The recently updated Vote With Your Purse research from our sister organization, WCF Foundation shows that women contribute far less to political candidates than men. They give to causes and charity, but not politically:

Despite casting nearly eight million more votes than men, women’s contributions accounted for only 31% of total donations to candidates, PACs and party committees in the 2008 cycle.

And when we do give politically, we give significantly less to women candidates than men. What gives?

In 2008, women gave $381 million more in political contributions than in 2006, however, only 35% of these contributions were to women candidates.

If you’re asking: So what’s the big deal? Who cares how much women give to candidates and who they give to? Here’s your answer:

In 2008, if women had increased their giving by just 22%, this would have represented an additional $40 million for congressional candidates of both genders or $13.8 million for women candidates specifically.

Women give to causes they believe in, but don’t tend to connect those issues to the candidates they vote for. However, sometimes helping to elect a candidate who supports your issue (i.e., reproductive justice) can be the best way to make progress.

We all know the unfortunate truth about politics in this country: No money = no winning. As Sam Bennett said:

“The effect is clear: women candidates are being outraised and outspent. Money in politics is perpetuating the gender divide in public office.”

In order to achieve parity for women in public office and advance the issues of importance to us and the nation, we must open up our wallets and vote with our purses.

Read the Vote With Your Purse 2009 update release here or download the full report.

DC Rooftop Reception a great success

Celinda Lake, Sam Bennett, Jennifer Brunner

Celinda Lake, Sam Bennett, Jennifer Brunner

WCF held a fabulous (if I do say so myself) Rooftop Reception in DC last night. Thanks to IBEW and Rick Diegel, we had an amazing rooftop venue to officially introduce our new president, Siobhan “Sam” Bennett to the community. The turnout was amazing, and we had the honor of meeting some great candidates, elected officials, and members of top sister allied organizations working for women.

Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners introduced our sister organization, WCF Foundation’s Vote With Your Purse update. The common theme throughout Celinda and many of the speaker’s remarks was that the increase of women’s political giving is essential to achieving gender parity in this country.

Ohio Secretary of State and WCF endorsed US Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner gave an inspiring speech - noting how WCF was one of her first national endorsements that really made a difference for her. She said she runs because, in the end, it’s all about public service and making a difference. She’s the first woman to serve as Secretary of State in Ohio, and her state has never had a woman governor or Senator.

Amy Philips from the Girl Scouts delivered amazing remarks, which were truly an inspiration to everyone - even the women in attendance who she looks up to:

“In 2006, only 16 percent of Congress was made up of women. Now in 2009, Congress is made up of only 17% women. At this rate, I’ll be 100 before gender parity is reached. The odds are stacked against me, but with leaders like Sam Bennett, I believe that the percentages in women’s favor can rise rapidly.”

Edie Fraser and Sam Bennett

Edie Fraser and Sam Bennett

Sam and WCF staff were thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Edie Fraser, Feminist Majority Political Director Alice Cohan, WCF endorsed candidate for VA House of Delegates Jeanette Rishell, Hon. Debra Carnahan, PA-16 Congressional candidate Lois Herr, and Rep. Dina Titus (NV-3).

Also, a lot of great organizations were represented, including: Rachel’s Network, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Women & Politics Institute, League of Women Voters, Women’s Information Network, National Women’s Political Caucus, DC Youth Advisory Council, Women’s Action for New Directions, DCCC, ProgressiveBlue.com, Democracy in Action/Wired for Change, National Network to End Domestic Violence, and many more.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out - make sure you check out our pictures! We look forward to hosting similar events in the future and bringing together these great leaders and organizations to make a difference in our country’s political landscape. Stay tuned for video from the event!

UPDATE: Check out this fabulous review of the event by Sanam Toosi on Ask Miss A.

Vote With Your Purse 2008 Has Been Released!

The 2008 Vote WIth Your Purse report was released today, and it’s already starting to get attention (click here to see only a small part of the media coverage: ABC News, Politico, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal). Click here for your own PDF version, or head directly to the WCF Foundation website to download a copy!

The report, Vote With Your Purse 2.0: Women’s Online Giving, Offline Power, explains the kind of impact women can have on politics through online donations. Women can be a powerful force in the political sphere, and the best way to increase that force is through political giving. Vote With Your Purse explains how women engage politically using the Internet, how they use Web tools like social networking sites and blogs and what inspires them to give.

Some highlights:

By providing information strategically, women online donors can be engaged in not only political giving, but also in involving others:

  • Women are actively researching politics and use online sources extensively – 96% read online news sources for political and campaign news and 47% use them as their primary news source.
  • Before making a political contribution, 55% consult online news sources, 54% consult campaign email updates and 49% consult campaign, PAC or political party websites.
  • Nearly 80% forward political information or stories to friends and family and nearly 90% ask those contacts to become engaged with a campaign in some way including signing a petition (48%) or giving funds (27%).

The report has been released hand-in-hand with our online Resource Center, a new space for women to learn how to fully utilize Web 2.0 tools for increasing their political giving and supporting women who are involved in the political process. Maybe you have never heard of any of these tools before, or maybe you use them every single day — no matter what your level of expertise is, the Resource Center can show you how to use the web to really support the candidates and causes you care about. Women are more engaged on the Internet than ever , and our energy, dedication and capabilities online can only increase.

Check out the report for yourself and leave your comments and feedback here on the blog. We love to hear from you!

Until next time,

- Ilana Goldman, President of WCFF

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