Building a Legion of Advocates
We are at a critical juncture in our history; having grown tremendously in our first 7 years from annually raising $165K in 2013 to raising $2.5 million in 2019—cumulatively, this campaign has raised over $10 million to fund anti-trafficking work. With a peer-to-peer fundraising model, word of mouth has been our primary channel for awareness. We are focused on growing our community in LA where we are headquartered, to achieve greater impact by developing a comprehensive outreach strategy that extends beyond word of mouth.
Please describe the mission of your organization.
Over 25,000 people have volunteered with Dressember using fashion and creativity to raise awareness and fundraise for programs fighting human trafficking. Our mission is to equip a community of people to advocate for the dignity of all people, leading to the protection and freedom of millions.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
While we are not submitting this project in collaboration with another organization, our LA-based partners will also benefit. Our strategy to ensure the most sustainable impact and maximize every dollar begins with vetting new and existing partners through five key criteria, one of which is collaboration. Collaboration is crucial for our holistic approach to combating human trafficking in LA and globally. Through our 3 LA-based partners and thousands of LA-based volunteers, we have seen the power of collaboration. Everything we’ve achieved at Dressember is a result of collaboration. The road to Dressember raising $10 million in seven years exists because of the alliance of our partners and most importantly, the thousands of volunteers that have committed to the Dressember campaign.
What is the need you’re responding to?
In today’s world of advanced technology, and seemingly progressive worldviews, millions are exploited through human trafficking, and 1 in 4 are children. Traffickers generate roughly $150 billion annually, yet many people have no idea that slavery exists in this form. LA is especially vulnerable to trafficking due to our proximity to an international border, numerous ports and airports, significant immigrant population, and industries that attract forced labor, including hospitality, agriculture, and manufacturing. Nearly 10% of LA County’s 500,000 manufacturing jobs are in the garment industry, a notorious environment for forced labor. As an LA-based organization with an emphasis on fashion, we generate awareness of trafficking in all forms and additionally highlight the connection between the garment industry and forced labor. We use our platform as a resource to shed a light on this often overlooked form of trafficking and provide tools for consumers to be part of the solution.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
One of the roadblocks for combating trafficking is a lack of mobilization from the public. We have demonstrated that small, consistent actions make a significant and tangible impact. Our volunteer program offers an accessible way to engage in a dark issue—one that most people don’t feel equipped to fight. We do not require volunteers to obtain specific qualifications, instead, we encourage everyday individuals to use their voices and style choices to fight for freedom. Volunteering with Dressember is two-fold; it promotes everyday, approachable advocacy and in turn provides prevention, rescue, and aftercare for survivors. Our team’s year-round goal is to equip, educate, and provide resources to best prepare our community and create a legion of advocates. Through just a few clicks, volunteers set up a fundraising page, share their link, and engage communities to take action. We lead crucial active volunteerism to provide anti-trafficking organizations with the vital resources they need.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
The break down of directly and indirectly beneficiaries from this project comes from our intention to recruit 4.5% of new volunteers (about 4,000) people through this project. Our average fundraiser raises $350, new volunteers could potentially raise an additional $1.4 million. In 2018/19, we raised $2 million that impacted 11,000 people.
Our LA partners work in case management and education/job readiness for survivors. It costs $3,000 to provide one survivor with case management for a year. $1.4 million has the ability to provide 466 survivors with case management. $900 provides vocational training for a teen survivor, $1.4 million could provide over 1,500 teens with vocational training. As our volunteer base grows, so does our impact.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Dressember works with volunteers from 45+ countries, however, 5.5% of volunteers (~4,000 overall) are located in LA. We will measure the success of this project through the following metrics with visionary goals:
Social Media: Increase overall engagement on Instagram (our primary channel) from 3% of current users in LA to 10% with the support of hiring a Communications Assistant.
Facebook Ads: Reach up to 4,000 Angelenos through Facebook ads with the help of an Advertising Consultant and subsequently implement a full-scale Facebook ad campaign.
Community Engagement: Increase engagement and focus on advocacy building in LA where Dressember is headquartered. We will provide Angelenos new to Dressember with an innovative opportunity to volunteer and make a local, national, and global impact.
Increased support of LA-Based partners: Three of our partners are located in LA. We work with CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking) to offer wraparound services for survivors. With Dressember’s support, last quarter CAST provided services to 274 survivors of trafficking in LA— 118 were victims of sex trafficking, 92 were victims of labor trafficking, and 28 were both. We partner with Olive Crest to train staff and educate children transitioning out of foster care in California where the link between foster-care and trafficking is extremely prevalent. Additionally, Saving Innocence provides case management to youth survivors of sex trafficking with our support.
Which of the connect metrics will your submission impact?
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Host public events or gatherings
- Communications support
- Capacity, including staff
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