For those that are pro-women, pro-family, and pro-community, Planned Parenthood has and will continue to be a place of controversy.
But for those who are pro-abortion-access, for them, pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) remain a place of dispute.
Over the years PRCs have become a point of controversy as pro-life advocates have pointed to them as an alternative to Planned Parenthood clinics and pro-abortion-access proponents have countered with reported claims of manipulation, shaming, and the dissemination of inaccurate medical information.
Yet little is actually known about the average pregnancy resource center because although many share the same mission—to see women and men supported and empowered to make life affirming choices—each operates, markets, and serves in their own unique way.
It is estimated that there are over 3,500 PRCs throughout America. In contrast to Planned Parenthood’s 650 clinics, PRCs now outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by over 5 to 1.
But does this vast number mean the pro-women, pro-family, and pro-life communities are ready to see Planned Parenthood defunded? Does the wide availability of PRCs guarantee we’re prepared to care for those that currently rely on Planned Parenthood for their services?
As a director of one such nonprofit, I believe PRCs are positioned with the great potential to bring hope to the lives of many who currently rely on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive services.
But this potential can only be realized if we are ready and willing to hold ourselves to the same standards we demand of Planned Parenthood.
A common charge brought against Planned Parenthood by the pro-life community is that they’re not actually woman focused, but rather, dollar and convenience focused. We regularly shudder at their level of “care” and “compassion.” We have all seen the videos of the dated, unkempt, and even at times, unsanitary conditions these clinics that bear the name Planned Parenthood are oftentimes in.
We are horrified that any person would be served in such an unprofessional and sordid environment. Yet what about our pregnancy centers? Do they reflect our pro-life values or are they designed to welcome clients who are scared, fearful, and overwhelmed? Do we care more that our centers are decorated with symbols of our faith or that our decor is inviting to clients who may have no faith?
Are we only handing out diapers rather than working to become a medical clinic? Are we preferring religious information over educational and scientific literature? Are we designing and marketing to the desires of our donors or to the needs of our clients?
What about our website, intake forms, brochures, info cards, posters, and policies and procedures for in-center practices? How long since all of these were last updated and redesigned?
Now these questions might make us feel a little uncomfortable on some level. That’s ok.
The goal of this post is not to find faults with PRCs nor attack them. Rather, the focus is to raise questions that challenge us to rise to the same standard we aim to hold Planned Parenthood to. One of the greatest ways we could hurt our cause to care for women is to be hypocritical in our standards of service to them.
PRCs after all are positioned with the potential to bring great hope to the lives of many who currently rely on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive services. But for us to effectively do so, we must be willing to process and act on at least these 3 things.
- Define Your Mission
The easiest way to do this is to answer the question Why does our organization exist? Your mission should not include any and everything you want to accomplish as an organization – that’s an operational statement. Rather, your mission should reflect the purpose for why you exist.
If your PRC is a faith-based organization, there will be a tension that lies in wanting to share your faith as the purpose of your organization’s existence vs. your objective being serving the needs of those facing pregnancy decisions. This tension is good. Don’t shy away from having the conversations on what your primary purpose of existence is – even if they’re hard. And if you have questions or want to wrestle through new ideas, feel free to contact us.
- Change Is Constant and Inevitable
The millennial generation is the first generation to grow up around both technology and social media. For many, the rapid change of both technology itself, as well as the software and interface, may be overwhelming to you. But for the millennial generation, they have grown up in a world where change is the constant.
Unlike their predecessors, this generation has interacted with a world where if it’s not changing, it’s uncomfortable – and something to be avoided.
This means things need to change quickly.
If you printed your brochures last year, this year you should be considering a new design to have ready for next year. If you released your new website 3 years ago, then this year you probably need to prepare for an upgrade.
If this idea of “constant change” is overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin, no worries! We have Stork Works which has been created to help equip PRCs with their marketing, branding, design, and vision. To learn more, contact Shara, our Stork Works Consultant.
- Mission vs. Branding and Vocabulary
Changing the vocabulary does not mean compromising the mission. This is paramount because although the mission will always remain the same—empowering women and men facing pregnancy decisions to make life-affirming choices—how it is communicated changes.
Each new generation receives truth in a different way. In order for PRCs to remain relevant and to take their place in bringing hope to the lives of many who currently rely on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive services, we must update our branding and vocabulary to reach the current and next generation(s).
Changing the vocabulary, tone, approach, and graphics that have been used over the past few decades may feel like a compromise on the mission and perhaps even make us feel like we’re being dishonest. But we must remember though, changing the vocabulary does not mean compromising the mission.
In his bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says “Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.”
We must inspire an eager want in the next generation to have a desire to empower women and men facing pregnancy decisions to make life-affirming choices. How is this done? By finding out what matters to them. By learning what they connect with. And by discovering what they value.