Last December, we began our end-of-year fundraising for Scarleteen with a goal to raise the minimum we needed from online donors for 2012, $35,000, a very modest ask compared to other organizations or projects of or near our tenure and level of service.
Unfortunately, we still have not yet been able to raise even half of that sum. As of today, we have raised almost $15,000. We're so very grateful to the 135 individuals who donated generously to help us get to that sum, but that total just won't do. We run our organization and services far more cost-efficiently than similar organizations or groups, and can stretch a dollar like nobody's business, but that can only get us so far.
We need that minimum of 35K for this year -- which, combined with a private grant and existing donors, still giv us only $80,000 to do everything we do -- in order to sustain and maintain our services and those who provide them, create new content and tools, and to keep our organization afloat.
We don't like to ask for money again (actually, we don't like asking for money at all) so soon after we've just asked, but what we like even less is the prospect of being unable to continue with the level of education, information and support that so many people rely on us for and have valued year after year. So we're asking again.
We didn't use to do fundraising at the end of the year: for years we did our yearly push around Valentine's Day. Why Valentine's Day? Well, because everyone is usually talking about sex and love already, for one. As a sex and relationships education organization, we're obviously up with sex and love. Commodified holidays, not so much, but at the same time, celebrations of love and sex are things we'll generally figure can be a Good Thing.
Too, it's a time of year when an awful lot of people shell out an awful lot of money to express, celebrate or instigate sex and romantic love. Americans alone will spend close to 17 billion (that's right, 17 billion) dollars on flowers, candy, baubles, bangles, cute underpants, dinners, getaways and other gifts and tokens. We think that spending ten, twenty or fifty dollars less on that stuff so you can support something a lot more likely to help people cultivate and nourish healthy, happy sexual and romantic lives when they want them (and with no risk of cavities!) is a great gesture of love and care, one certainly more meaningful than a Whitman's sampler or lingerie that's really for the person buying it rather than the person it's being given to.
We keep hearing people asking where truly comprehensive, inclusive and thoughtful sex education can be found, or even saying that no one does or provides that kind of sex education anywhere.
Where is progressive, inclusive and in-depth sex education, information and support most young people around the world can easily access, any hour of the day they want or need it?
Where's sex education that's as supportive of people choosing not to engage in sex as it is for those who are? Right here. What about sex ed that also supports those choosing to have an active sexual life, including with partners, and does so without judgment? Right here. Where's sex and relationship education that really talks about what makes relationships healthy and what makes them unhealthy? Right here. How about sex ed that addresses consent clearly and thoroughly? Right here.
Where's the sex ed that isn't just for straight people, able-bodied people, cisgender people or people whose relationships are inside the proverbial box? Right here. What about sex ed that also helps victims or survivors of sexual assault or abuse, intimate partner violence or domestic violence? It's right here at Scarleteen.
Where's sex ed that helps young people unpack misinformation or mixed messages they pick up from friends, parents, poor quality sex ed or abstinence-only and the media? Right here. Pro-choice sex education, and sex education that not only isn't conspiculously silent about abortion, but talks about it openly and soupportively? Here. Sex education that talks about body-image, self-image and self-esteem? Here. Sex ed where people can actually engage in candid, frank conversations with someone educated who they can trust, someone who won't blow them off, blush or back away when they ask questions? Here. Sex ed whose agenda is set by what those receiving it are asking for, rather than by funders or state or federal mandates or politics? Here. Sex education that actually addresses pleasure, and talks about sex as something that isn't just about avoiding the bad stuff, but seeking out the good stuff? Here, again. Where's sex ed that also is sure to provide all the basics, like information about anatomy, safer sex and STIs and contraception? It's all right here.
We've been right here, doing all that we do for 14 dedicated years now, and we'd really like to keep on doing it, continuing to hold up a high bar for not just online sex education and information, but all sex education; the kind of thoughtful, in-depth, diverse and candid sex education young people themselves ask for. But we need help and support in order to keep doing that.
It probably doesn't surprise you that sex ed this forward-thinking, this progressive and this pioneering isn't usually the kind of sex ed that gets state and federal funds or giant grants. It's not the kind of sex ed taught in most schools, even those with comprehensive programs. During most of the years we've been around, here in the U.S. federal funds weren't even available for ANY comprehensive sex education, and that's not something which has improved much with the end of the Bush administration. It's also not something very likely to improve very much very soon from the looks of things. And private funding for sex education of any sort, let alone sex ed like we private, is also tremendously hard to come by, especially when you answer to those you provide services to and what they want, rather than to funders, whose aims and agendas often aren't in alignment with what young people say they need.
But we're stubborn, and we've kept doing what we do despite all the challenges, financial and otherwise. We love doing what we do just as much as those who benefit from all our services love it, and our hope is that anyone who also loves what we do and can help us to keep doing it will.
If you already know that all the kinds of things people are asking for in sex ed can be found right here at Scarleteen, and you know how valuable that is, we'd very much appreciate your help. If it's news to you that we've got all this going on, or you've never even heard of us before today, take some time to look around: if you like what you see, please help us out. Even a small donation can make a big difference.
If you want a great way on Valentine's Day to demonstrate some love and care, to support sex and sexual or romantic relationships that are as good as they can be, we don't think you could do better than to give a little towards a service and organization as deeply passionate about and dedicated to quality sexuality and relationships education as Scarleteen is.
If you'd like to know more about who we are, what we do and why and how we do it, or how else your contribution will be utilized, the links below are some starting points. We're also always happy to answer any questions you may have directly, including discussing larger contributions or private grants: feel free to email us anytime.
Big thanks for taking the time to read and consider our ask of you today, and we wish you and yours the richest celebrations of sex, love or both you might have today and every day. If you're able to give today and support what we do, we hope your hearts swell all the more with the knowledge that you've helped give young people a big foundational piece of what they need in order to best cultivate, navigate and enjoy their own sex and love lives, in all their awesome diversity, for the rest of their lives.
UPDATE: As of 2/18/2102, 21 new donors contributed an additional $1,795 in support. Thank you! We still have a long way to go to reach our $35,000 minimum goal, but your help gets us that much closer!