This past August was a dark time. The Ice Bucket Challenge was inescapable, our Facebook feeds and Twitter streams clogged with people loudly dumping cold water over their heads to raise money for ALS. The cause was good, but the execution was... a little tiresome, after the 10,000th video. But we're pretty big fans of one of the ice bucket spinoffs: RH Reality Check reporter Andrea Grimes' Taco or Beer Challenge, which raised money for abortion funds.
The premise, as Grimes explained in a Tumblr launched on August 18, was simple: "Eat a taco. Drink a beer. Donate money to an abortion fund." And the results were pretty staggering: Grimes announced today that the effort raised nearly $30,000 for abortion funds nationwide. (Full disclosure: Grimes and I know each other, and worked for the same newspaper at different times.)
Grimes writes on RH Reality Check that the ToBC raised a total of $29,836, adding that in some parts of the country the response was "surprising and staggering." She writes, "The National Network of Abortion Funds raised more than $10,000 in a little more than a month after the challenge began in August—six times what the organization raised during the same period last year. Eighty percent of those donations came from first-time abortion fund donors." After the NNAF, the next-biggest donor was Texas's Lilith Fund, which received $5,000.
"I think the challenge was largely successful because eating tacos and/or drinking beers makes people feel good, and so does helping others," Grimes tells Jezebel in an email. "Tacos + beers + helping people is a pretty incredible combination of incentives." She adds, too: "I also think a lot of folks just didn't know that abortion funds exist, period. They hear 'abortion' and think 'Planned Parenthood,' and that's about as far as they get. But the great thing about ToBC is that folks hear "taco" and "beer" and that perks their ears up, and then they hear "abortion fund," and they're like, "Holy shit, I can eat a fucking taco and drink a fucking beer and directly fund this thing I didn't even know I could fund!!!" I had a lot of Tumblr submissions, Tweets and FB messages to that effect—people saying they didn't even know they had an abortion fund in their state or area."
The ToBC also garnered a scandalized response from the anti-abortion side of the house, with LifeNews calling it "NOT charity", and, predictably, urging their readers to donate to anti-abortion causes instead to cancel out the challenge. They also massed on Grimes on Twitter, something that is, at this point, not a surprise to her, she says.
"I get called a baby-killer and a murderer every day," she writes. "I get told to abort myself, or run into traffic, or jump off a building, every week. I usually ignore these inspirational examples of Christian compassion, but I noticed at one point that the anti's were harassing folks using the Twitter hashtag for a few hours, so I made the BINGO card to lighten the mood some for other folks. I didn't really follow anti-choice rip-offs of the ToBC, though I'm sure there were a few attempts."
ToBC 2015 kicks off next August. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
Grimes eating the inaugural taco. Image via Taco or Beer Challenge.