I am sad to announce the resignation of Rachel Crawford as Director of Training, which becomes effective on July 24th, 2020. Rachel would like to thank all of our followers who support our work and have helped to bring our message to pro-life individuals who benefit from our content. She is excited to see what God has planned for her next!
Rachel had big shoes to fill when she stepped into Timothy Brahm’s position as Director of Training. Looking back at her work in the last year, it is clear to me that she not only filled those shoes well, she far exceeded my expectations. I think the best compliment a manager can give to a resigning employee is, “I would hire you again in a heartbeat.” And I can definitely say that about Rachel. She did great work, and she is always welcome back.
This week marked the six-year anniversary of the launch of Equal Rights Institute!
I failed to make a five-year anniversary post happen last year because it was right around the time of Tim’s transition out of ministry, and there was just too much going on. My apologies! If you want to know our main accomplishments during that time, this PDF covers our main accomplishments of 2018 and this post covers 2019.
I’ve already updated our GuideStar profile this year, earning their platinum rating for the second year in a row, the highest rating a non-profit can attain by being transparent about our goals and metrics.
In the last year we spoke to 2,459 people in 31 speeches and two all-day seminars, representing a 69% decrease in how many people we spoke to in the last year. That’s a big decrease and even surprised me when I saw the numbers, so reviewing the data from the last few years, here are the main factors that I think contributed to that:
- COVID-19 has had a negative effect on our speaking. Several talks were canceled because of that.
- When we lost Tim last year, we went from having three speakers to only two. We got a ton of speaking done last spring when Tim and I were both available to speak in different parts of the country simultaneously.
- Our average audience size spread across the year is roughly the same in the last two years, so it’s not that we’re speaking to smaller audiences. It’s almost entirely that we’re doing fewer speeches and trips than we did before. Our staff agreed last year that I should do fewer speaking trips to help us focus on finishing some of our big projects like the advanced module to the Equipped for Life Course, the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass, and the Equipped for Life Podcast relaunch. In the last year, I did eight out-of-town speaking trips, while in the previous year I did 10 and Tim four on top of that. So our out-of-town speaking was cut roughly in half, and that’s a combination of losing Tim and me accepting fewer gigs.
- One of our talks in 2018 skew the numbers a bit because it happened at a megachurch.
We also published 19 new articles to our blog which were read by 40,344 people, a 10% decrease from last year, but that’s just because we published five fewer articles this year than we did last year.
In the last year we relaunched the Equipped for Life Podcast, which used to be for Equipped for Life Course members only. This was a huge project, and we ultimately republished 38 previously recorded episodes that are now edited for the public podcast feed, knowing that some listeners won’t already have access to the Equipped for Life Course. Once we’d finished that project in March of this year, we could focus on creating new episodes. We’ve published eight new episodes of that podcast in the last three months. In the last year we also posted five new speech audios and discussions to the separate ERI Podcast Feed. You can subscribe to both podcasts here.
We also have turned a lot more attention to creating videos for our YouTube channel. We’ve published 41 videos in the last year, not counting podcast episodes which we also publish to our YouTube channel now. Those videos have 21,442 views cumulatively.
Here are a few of my favorite memories from the last year:
Download Audio MP3 | 00:23:33
Josh Brahm took a walk along the cliffs of Ireland to share with you what the ERI staff are up to lately. We’ve intercut the footage with a lot of beautiful pictures and videos Josh took around Ireland.
I found the top 5 articles by checking the Google Analytics for the ERI blog, instead of complicating the process by incorporating stats from LifeNews.com, where many of our articles are later republished. (We didn’t do this annual post last year because we had lost two months of analytics due to a technical issue we were unaware of at the time, so we had no way to accurately rank all of the pieces. Luckily that issue is fixed!)
Our blog received 96,622 unique pageviews from more than 44,402 unique people this year.
On to the list!
The Five Most Read New Articles This Year:
#5: How to Help People Talk Themselves Out of Abortion
This is one of the most surprising things I learned from Jacob Nels about sidewalk counseling while we were creating the content for the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. It’s also incredibly encouraging for people who are worried about saying the wrong thing.
In case you missed our fundraising letter, let me break down the top 10 ERI accomplishments of 2019:
- Finishing the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass, an online course training pro-life advocates to effectively save lives in front of abortion facilities. The course includes 14 lessons (making up about 6 hours of content), a workbook with organized notes, easy to follow step-by-step instructions, FAQ’s, and 40 practical tips. It also includes access to a private Facebook group where students can interact with our staff and each other. The course has only been out for a few months but we already have 267 people enrolled in the course!
- Scripting, filming, and editing a 90-minute extension of the Equipped for Life Course, our most advanced philosophical material yet, and one that answers certain top pro-choice arguments in a persuasive way that every day pro-life advocates can use in real conversations.
- Launching a public version of the Equipped for Life Podcast. This is the roundtable podcast that was previously an exclusive for members of the Equipped for Life Course. We decided earlier this year to move most of those episodes into a public feed for two reasons: to make it more convenient for our course students to access the podcast, and to expose more pro-life advocates to our training content. Rachel and I will continue to create regular podcasts next year, covering current events, pro-life philosophy, and answers to listener questions. We will continue creating these new episodes with both video and audio options, as can be seen in the last three podcast episodes we published.
- This year our philosophy team decided to make a change in the way we respond to certain pro-choice bodily autonomy arguments. It’s a big shift for us, but one of the core values at Equal Rights Institute is to be flexible and innovative, and we felt like this change would be more persuasive to pro-choice students. We published this change in a video titled “Blood Donation and Bodily Rights Arguments” which you can watch at https://EqualRightsInstitute.com/BloodDonation. We’re honored that our good friends at Justice For All have made the same change as us and are playing that video in their seminars now. It was even more encouraging when the student club at St. Olaf College informed us that they tried both methods a lot on their campus and also found our new approach to be FAR more persuasive to the pro-choice students they’re talking to.
- Setting up our new video/podcast studio. We researched and purchased most of the video equipment we use last year in preparation for filming the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass, but it was the summer of 2019 before we got into our new office space that had room for a video/podcast studio. Thanks to guidance from our rockstar volunteer Tony Johnson and some assistance from local apologist Tim Hull, we got everything set up and functioning and have been using the studio since. It’s been incredible to be able to walk in there and within 20-minutes be filming already. It’s so much more efficient than how we were filming before, and we have big plans for the studio next year!
- We hosted a live webinar titled “Reacting to Pro-Choice Memes: Responding to Snark with a Winning Argument” that resulted in a 7,000-word resource on our blog with prewritten responses to 12 common categories of pro-choice memes! You can find that resource at EqualRightsInstitute.com/Memes. If you’re a member of the Equipped for Life Course, you can also watch that webinar in our new Webinar Archive which also includes several of our other previous webinars.
- ERI earned GuideStar’s 2019 Platinum Seal of Transparency by adding information to our Nonprofit Profile, including some of the metrics we track to indicate the progress toward our goals. You can take a look at our GuideStar profile anytime by going to EqualRightsInstitute.com/GuideStar which will redirect you to their website. As far as we can tell, we are one of only two national pro-life organizations that have accomplished this.
- Doubled our hours (49) consulting with pro-life leaders this year, including some of the most influential leaders in Ireland! This is a thing that we have been doing behind the scenes without talking about it very much, although we only began carefully tracking it these last few years. I knew when we started ERI that I wanted us to be consultants for the pro-life movement. I’m happy to say that we have been doing that, and the results have been very rewarding.
- Partnering with the new pro-life director of the Atlanta Archdiocese, Joey Martineck. He first became pro-life at a speech I gave to his youth group more than 10 years before! He’s a big fan of ERI and brainstormed with us on how to help the Respect Life chapters in his area to grow in their effectiveness. Jacob and I have since spoken for several of these chapters, and Joey continues to reach out to us to connect us with various pro-life leaders who are asking questions about pro-life work.
- This year we increased in every metric that we track except for one predictable exception. The exception is our podcast downloads, which were down 29%, but we knew that was coming because we purposefully took about a year off from podcasting, in order to dedicate the necessary staff resources to the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass to get it finished. We expect to see those downloads go right back up next year. Here are our other metrics, as compared to the previous year:
- Speech attendees: 0.57% increase (This is basically the same. Thanks to the 23 people who bumped this stat up a little.)
- YouTube views: 148% increase.
- Course students enrolled: 69% increase.
- Blog – Unique readers: +139%. This is the most surprising one to me. I think this is a result of several current events pieces that did well as well as us posting our “evergreen” pieces more consistently on Facebook, where some people discovered them for the first time.
- Pro-life leaders consulted with: 91% increase.
- Hours of consulting: 81% increase.
- Facebook post engagement: 57% increase.
- Facebook organic reach: 1,208% increase!
- We also decreased our cost to reach a pro-life advocate with our training material from $5.16/person to $2.84/person, a 45% decrease! (That’s the kind of decrease we want to see!)
We had an incredibly successful year, and we need your help to make next year better. Would you partner with us by giving at https://EqualRightsInstitute.com/Donate? Every $2.84 helps us to train one pro-life advocate with our content!