How would you summarize the problem or need your organization is working to address?
Pro-life advocates are often unpersuasive due to mediocre dialogue skills and an insufficient understanding of the way pro-choice people think about abortion. As a result, individual conversations about abortion are often off-putting and unconvincing. Meanwhile, the pro-choice movement is able to influence young people to sympathize with their position unopposed by any articulate opposing argument.
The political climate is incredibly divided and tribalistic. There has been a cultural shift of political discourse from face-to-face conversations to anonymous debates online. This lack of human connection and stimulating articulate discourse has created a need for civil conversation which is authentic and productive.
What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
- Train pro-life advocates in dialogue skills, greatly improving their ability to communicate with pro-choice people in a clear, relational manner.
- Train pro-life advocates to navigate the complex political territory of issues surrounding abortion so that dialogues can be productive even if they are between people with incredibly different worldviews.
- Train pro-life advocates to identify hidden premises in pro-choice rhetoric and thinking so that they can bring clarity to the conversation, find genuine common ground, and bring down walls which are preventing the other person from hearing the pro-life message.
- Train pro-life advocates to understand the strongest pro-choice philosophical arguments as well as the most persuasive counter-arguments.
- Train pro-life advocates to cultivate relationships with people who have different beliefs, for the sake of genuine friendship and for discovering truth together.
- Train pro-life advocates in the most effective sidewalk counseling techniques, so they can save more lives and help more families outside of abortion facilities.
What are your organization’s capabilities for accomplishing your strategy?
- We have invested in many outreaches on college campuses for our staff to collectively have thousands of conversations with pro-choice students so we can better understand how they think about abortion, which pro-life arguments they find convincing, and which barriers they have to becoming pro-life. Throughout this experience we have seen many minds change, shaped our philosophical content to register with the psychological perspective of pregnancy in our culture, and developed persuasive dialogue strategies.
- Our staff share an ethos which prioritizes understanding pro-choice culture, worldview, and rhetoric so that we can understand the real reasons why people disagree with the pro-life position, rather than assuming why they have come to believe what they do. This approach helps us to analyze our training content through a robust, critical lens from the opposing viewpoint.
- ERI has invested in an office space that includes a custom-built video and podcasting studio so that we can produce high-quality video and audio content. We film in 4K and use professional-grade audio equipment to ensure that the appearance of our final product matches the same standards as the innovative ideas we share.
How will your organization know if you are making progress?
- Our enrolled online course members are surveyed both before and after they view our content. We measure factors such as how often they participate in sidewalk counseling and ask whether or not they intend to participate more frequently after completing our training.
- In the year 2020, we’ve seen a 22% increase in students enrolled in at least one of our online courses as compared to 2019.
- In our post-course survey for the Equipped for Life course, 88.7% of members reported that ERI training accounts for half or more of their overall growth as a pro-life advocate.
- We track our analytics across social media platforms, subscribers to our content, video views, and podcast downloads. We anticipate growth and if we do not see consistent growth, we adjust our methods accordingly according to marketing research. For example, we post on social media during the optimal time of day and highest user frequency day of the week to have the maximum impact on our followers.
What have you accomplished so far and what’s next?
- In our first five years of ERI, we produced two online courses with 46 total lessons for over 11 hours of training content.
- Our blog has over 200 articles and has been read by over 221,000 individual readers.
- We have invested resources into creating a professional video and podcast studio in our Charlotte office.
- In order to grow our platform, we want to focus on producing more frequent public content on our YouTube channel and podcast feed. This goal is achievable for our organization because we have purchased the equipment and studio.
- We plan to hire a development director who can help us exponentially grow our organization by streamlining our fundraising strategies and network.
- We plan to hire an audio and video specialist who can help produce and edit our content so that our creative professionals can reallocate their skill sets to better suit their specialties.
- We plan to hire more creative professionals with marketing and communication skills to manage our social media and assist in content creation.
Are you hiring?
We are careful to not grow our staff faster than we can manage. Having said that, we do have positions we’d love to see filled. Learn more about them here.
Does ERI use graphic abortion images?
We rarely talk publicly about the topic of abortion images. This isn’t because we don’t have opinions; it’s because there is almost no other topic that is as effective at dividing well-intentioned pro-life advocates.
We do use them in our outreach brochure, but we only use them with the person’s consent. You can read more about why we use images this way in our article, Abortion Images: A Case for Disagreement without Division. We hope it helps you understand where we’re coming from, while also showing that we have a lot of respect for our friends and colleagues who use images differently than we do.
Why did ERI move to Charlotte?
We moved our main office from Fresno, CA to Charlotte, NC in the summer of 2016. This helps us to be more productive when traveling, since Charlotte has a better airport and many of our speaking events take place on the east coast.