Alan Gross and Evelyn "Skip" Drum of Somerset, N.J., are partners-partners in life, partners on the dance floor and partners in NOW activism. They are also partners in NOW's Equality Action Fund, a giving program through which dedicated donors like themselves give monthly pledges.
Equality Action Fund partners agree to give monthly donations--either by responding to the receipt of a monthly statement or by agreeing to an automatic charge to a credit card or an electronic funds transfer from their bank account. A member of Middlesex County NOW, Gross agreed to start a monthly pledge in the mid-1980s. After almost 14 years of giving by credit card, his contributions have added up to an impressive and significant total. Gross states, "It certainly is a painless way to donate to such an important organization."
An economic analyst in the telecommunications industry, Gross joined NOW in the fall of 1981, attended his first national NOW conference on Miami Beach in 1984, and has attended every conference since then. "I'm really looking forward to returning to Miami for another conference this summer--it will be my 17th!"
His partner in life has an even longer history in NOW. Skip Drum, an AIDS health educator for the New Jersey Department of Health, has only missed one conference since 1975. The fight for the Equal Rights Amendment drew Drum into NOW activism; she rode the Freedom Train to Illinois (twice!), stood ERA Vigil at the White House for a week and went to Vermont to work on the state ERA campaign there.
Drum definitely enjoys her activism in NOW: "Alan and I started dating in January 1981, and going to NOW events, rallies, demonstrations, marches and national conferences were always the most fun we could have with our clothes on!" Look for them on the dance floor of a party at any NOW conference (clothes on, of course)--dancing is their favorite hobby after picketing.
The couple married on June 12, 1999, after 18 years of going to NOW meetings. The wedding itself and a separate engagement party were both feminist fundraisers. Gross and Drum asked for donations to NOW in lieu of wedding gifts.
"Over the years I have been asked a number of times why I, a man, support NOW," Gross comments. "Well, NOW stands for the equality that we're taught in grade school is supposed to be the hallmark of our country, but that we find out as adults is often a hollow promise. By being a member of NOW, I can contribute to making the ideal of equality a reality."
Drum adds, "NOW is an organization that supports our way of being in the world, and the least we can do is give our support in return, by making a regular, on-going contribution that NOW can count on."
She also enjoys the monthly mailing from the Action Center which keeps Equality Action Fund partners informed about the organization's latest events. "It keeps my batteries charged by reminding me on a regular basis that I belong to an organization that is fighting for my right to be who I am."
Donors like Alan Gross and Skip Drum are the foundation for NOW's ability to take action at a moment's notice on urgent issues affecting women's lives. Their contributions, joined with those of hundreds of monthly donors all across the country, give NOW a predictable monthly income that is essential for our effectiveness as an organization.
States Emmert-Maguire: "Giving a monthly pledge to NOW is one of the main ways I can give back some of the many gifts of strength and friendship that have come to me in all the years of being a member. It is satisfying to know that my small monthly contribution combined with the other contributions can help make possible NOW's commitment to the struggle for the equality of all women."
Emmert-Maguire is an administrative assistant at a large computer firm. "I see how far women in the workplace have progressed into management and how far we still have to go to break the glass ceiling."
NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy oversees NOW's direct mail fundraising efforts and appreciates the value of donations to the Equality Action Fund: "Some of our Equality Action Fund partners are like April, Alan and Skip--giving us their time and talents, as well as their money. Others are people whose dedication is shown through these monthly gifts. Their donations make a real difference in the work we do."
To become a partner in NOW's Equality Action Fund, sign-up online at https://www.now.org/sustainer.html or if you have more questions contact Cindy Hanford by e-mail or at 202-628-8669, ext. 128.