Welcome to the new Friendfactor.

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Hi friends! For those of you who have known Friendfactor for a while, you’ll know that we’ve been pretty dormant for the past year. We’ve been evaluating and analyzing our options for moving forward, and are excited to announce our ‘re-founding’ as a brand new organization: same name, same vision, 100% new strategy and programs. We’re pretty excited about it. Welcome to the new Friendfactor!

 

For the whole history of how Friendfactor has evolved, check out the History page. The short version is that Friendfactor remains committed to empowering straight folks to take action to make the world a better place for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender friends. In fact, our new vision statement encompasses this idea:

We envision a society where everyone who cares about LGBT equality, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, takes part in making it a reality.

 

How we’re doing that, however, has changed dramatically. We’re applying what Friendfactor has learned about motivating and empowering straight Americans over the past couple years, and we’ve also linked up with a new, community-based model that has already worked successfully in several communities. Here’s the idea:

 

Straight people who care about LGBT equality (or supporters of any progressive change movement, for that matter) face the same challenges that any individual must overcome to be motivated to take action: we need to understand that there is a problem, feel like we can make a difference, know what to do, see the impact of our actions, and be incentivized to continue taking action and prioritize this action above all the other demands in our lives. This is a big task, and it starts with seeing would-be allies as a community - with needs that are often different, but no less important, than those of our LGBT brothers and sisters. This recognition has led to our new mission: to help straight friends become visible, vocal, and active allies in their communities. We do this in three integrated ways:

 

  1. We start with making the issue relevant to straight folks’ day to day lives. This means meeting people where they are: in the workplaces and school campuses we go to every day. These are the places where we can see small actions we take, like changing a few words in our vocabulary or putting a sticker on our laptop, make a huge, tangible impact. I know they did at my grad school: I worked on a basic little campaign to increase visibility and hand out ally buttons, and soon had friends banging down my door asking for ways to do more.
  2. Second, we give allies a support structure. It can be lonely and isolating to be an active ally. It’s easy to be excluded from the rest of the non-LGBT community (for speaking up or appearing ‘oversensitive’) and we don’t quite fit neatly into the LGBTQ community (because we don’t share their experiences as directly). So we have to make being an ally a ‘thing’: come together, share our experiences, learn from each other, and support one another, both on the ground inside our communities and externally with other ally groups. The more we know and connect with other allies working towards the same goals, the less isolated we’ll feel and the less afraid we’ll be to speak up and be visible.
  3. Third, we turn commitment into action. Never again should we have potential allies saying “I don’t’ know what I can do.” We need to pave a path to action for allies at all levels of commitment. And not just signing a pledge once or going to one training, but by participating continuously over time. Action comes in a few forms:
    1. Continuous education: learning about more and more in-depth issues, keeping up to date, and practicing how to start conversations and build awareness.
    2. Visibility: creating fresh physical and verbal cues that show the world we are supportive, not once, but over and over, with increasing visibility and pride with each step (say, from displaying a rainbow sticker in your cubicle to listing your ally activities on your resume).
    3. Showing up: going to events, organizing events, participating in our organizations’ Pride floats, maybe even getting political and knocking on some doors. Our presence and participation matter, and it’s amazing how quickly an organization’s culture can change just by getting allies more actively involved.

 

With these three tenants of our strategy, we present you with Friendfactor 2.0. We’re building ally programs at companies and universities that proactively ask people to get involved, show them what they can do, and hook them up with a support structure of other allies inside and outside of their organizations. And it’s working great so far: we’ve got 10 pilot programs going across the country, which have signed up over 500 members over just a few months. We host inspiring quarterly check-ins and regional events, provide a growing library of resources, and have lots of fun new campaigns coming up in 2013.

 

We’re growing fast and want to invite you to join the movement! If you’re interested in starting or joining a program, supporting a campaign as an individual or organization, or just learning more, we want to hear from you. Get in touch or sign up for a program and we’ll contact you with more info. Welcome to the ally revolution, and to Friendfactor 2.0!

 

 

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Joanne Sprague

Re-Founder & CEO, Friendfactor

 


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