I am so appreciative of all the passionate people who have a heart for trafficked victims, I really am. With so many good intended advocates, a lot of anti-trafficking organizations are starting… and I mean A LOT! So how does your organization rate? Here is a checklist to help your organization identify areas that may need improvements.
Does Your Staff Receive Annual Trainings?
Do you have a survivor on your board, advisory committee or payroll?
Do you have a mission statement?
Does 50% or more of your budget go toward your mission? (i.e. if you a safe home, does 50% or more go toward operations and staffing or does it go toward marketing, publicists and hats?)
Do you have an annual budget already approved by your board or do you just use the debit card to purchase whatever you want, when you want?
Does any of the marketing material you use, have images of women/children in actual chains, barcodes, duct tapes or hands covering “their” mouth, or stuffed in suitcases/jars?
When raising awareness around this issue, do you feel it is best to tell the most extreme story you can recall in order to “bring awareness”?
Can you site your source for the statistics on your site?
Does any of your material use the term “prostitute” as oppose to “prostituted” or “exploited”?
Does the survivor you work with get the same pay as any other professional who has the same education/expertise in your organization?
Is the survivor you work with encouraged to engage in areas beyond just sharing her story?
1.Yes- annual trainings allow staff members to stay astute on trends, changes and updates.
2.Yes- survivor voice is paramount with this demographic. Such a bond of “us against them” has been established, that you will get further by using a healed survivor when working with victims or simply gaining perspective about your operations, the images used, best practices, etc. If you cannot afford a survivor to be on staff, hire one as a consultant per project. Can’t afford either, simply ask one to be an advisor or on your board; both of which are voluntary positions.
3.Yes- when engaging in the fight, there are many areas in which your organization could be stretched. Handling midnight crisis calls, going to mentor girls at juvie, speaking at that local event, etc. If your funds are limited and/or you don’t have the qualifications to handle some of these opportunities, it will better for you to refer someone whose organization does exactly what being asked. “Stay In Your Lane” as the Survivor Leader Institute call it. When an opportunity arises, as yourself “does this help with ________” fill in the blank with your mission statement.
4.Yes- there is nothing worse than seeing an organization raising awareness and helping victims, then you go behind the scenes at a roundtable meeting, and see their survivor advisor struggling to put gas in her car to attend the discussion, while a PR firm sits across from everyone with a huge price tag. If an organization is going to talk the talk of helping victims to find healing and then provide sustainable living, please practice what you preach!
5. Approved- This answer is a grey area because where every organization is at within their budget is different. Here are my suggestions: just starting out and don’t have an annual set budget? Discuss with your board ahead of time and vote on a specific amount allowed each month on business cards, brochures, etc… Starting to get an annual budget, pull in a book keeper/admin to help you asses the budget and vote accordingly. The thing NOT to do, is have a business card and spend the donations that come in whenever you see something that you think would work great in your office, or the women’s rooms. Not only is that just bad form, but it’s what gets 501c3 status revoked!
6.No- Sensationalized images actually do harm to the movement because they promote everything that we work really hard to undo! They are feeding a misconception and false situation which leads to misidentification by both the victims and those they come across everyday. “Trafficking means she has to have handcuffs around her wrists and duct taped. That’s not what this girl looks like, therefore it must not be trafficking…” WRONG!
7.No- The most graphic, detailed, horrendous story is not always the most impactful and actually might stir up emotions and memories in someone that they are not ready to process in that moment. We can bring awareness to this grotesque issue without causing post traumatic stress.
8. Yes- Misquoted statistics are rampant in any heavy topic and human trafficking is no different. If you don’t want to be feeding the hype and sensationalizing numbers, images and stories, then just do your research and be sure that you can site your source. period.
9.No- Words are impactful and can portray victims like criminals themselves. Be careful on how you describe situations and people.
10.Yes – Survivors dont want to be treated any better or less than any other professional in this movement. If they have skills, degrees, experience and bring value to the table, then value them just like you would any other person that comes with that amount of knowledge.
11.Yes- Survivors are so much more than just their story. Provide them with opportunities and avenues to utilize all the talents and abilities that they have been blessed with. And guess what, just because she is a survivor, does not always mean that reliving it and telling it in a way to bring awareness and change is her gift! You want to lead people into being overcomers? Find what they are good at, what they are passionate about and help them get there!
I hope this helps you to assess your organization and how you “rate.” I believe you are well on your way to making a difference, walking the talk, and being a highly respected group within this movement. Best wishes to you!