February 25, 2024

Donor Spotlight: Jess Craven – “There’s literally no better place to invest”

Jess Craven, MVP donor and ambassador, is author of the hope-filled political action blog, Chop Wood, Carry Water. We asked her to share a few words on why she gives to MVP — and why she routinely shouts from the rooftops for her 28,000+ readers to do the same. Here is her reply.
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In a time of political cynicism, we are proud to offer MVP as an antidote to despair and a beacon of clear-eyed hope, for people who know a better world is possible.

Here is MVP’s philosophy in a nutshell: Lasting political power and policy change come from investing in…

  • Communities, not just candidates;
  • People power, not just political parties; and
  • Trusted messengers on the ground, not just TV ads saturating the airwaves.

Someone who deeply gets this is Jess Craven, MVP donor and ambassador, and author of the hope-filled political action blog, Chop Wood, Carry Water.

As Jess puts it, as the author of her blog, she is “essentially a bundler….of easy things each of us can do to make a difference.” (If you’re looking for daily doses of hope and ways to take action, subscribe here.)

We asked her to share a few words on why she gives to MVP — and why she routinely shouts from the rooftops for her 28,000+ readers to do the same (congrats, Jess, on raising over $65,000 for MVP this year!!).

Here is her reply:

Why are you called to do everything you can personally, to ensure victory in November?

Motherhood is definitely a huge motivator.

I’ve been a climate activist for 30-odd years, but when my kid was born in 2009 my activism ratcheted up significantly. Making sure there’s a livable planet for future generations becomes even more urgent when you have a child of your own.

When Trump got elected I felt a burning mandate to fight for my child and all the kids that I knew would be negatively affected by his policies. At the same time school shootings were increasing, so I became galvanized to help elect gun-sense candidates, too.

Then in 2019 my kid came out as queer. So now I’m fighting for their climate future, their physical safety from gun violence, and their rights as an LGBTQ person. And, since Dobbs, their reproductive freedom. But not just theirs! It’s about all of our kids. Being a parent gave me an extra awareness of the level of vulnerability so many people in America face.

My fight is for all of us. And every day—especially recently—I get new reminders of the life-or-death stakes of this election. The work couldn’t be more urgent. To say that November’s election is existential and we must win it is not an overstatement. It’s simple fact.

What inspires you to give to MVP?

The longer I’ve worked in activism the more opportunities I’ve had to see what works and what doesn’t. And throwing money only at big left-leaning institutions—or even left-leaning candidates at the top of the ticket—simply doesn’t work.

We absolutely must invest in long-term organizing happening in communities. Look at what [Stacey Abrams and others] did in Georgia! Amazing, but it took 13 years! We need a long game as well as a short game, and we need organizations who understand that.

“We need a long game as well as a short game.”

Especially in these fraught and divided times, too, we need TRUSTED messengers, and those are never going to be strangers dropping into a district for one race. They are going to be long-time organizers living within the communities we need to turn out. These organizers are working in the groups that MVP funds.

To me it’s really clear — there’s literally no better place to invest.

Any advice for donors still deciding when and how much to give?

Yes! For God’s sake give NOW! And give everything you possibly can. Remember the phrase early money is like yeast? It’s true, and in this case, it’s existentially important.

If we wait til September to start donating we will lose. It’s that straightforward. The deep, persistent organizing work needs to be happening now to be effective. Not in the summer. Not in the fall. Now.

And believe me—the other side is doing it. They never stop. We can’t either.

Anything else you want to say?

I’ve found getting involved with groups like MVP to be not just strategically smart but spiritually and emotionally sustaining.

There’s a certain amount of cynicism in all politics, but in MVP, because it’s about communities, we see an abundance of action-based hope that’s precious and rare in today’s culture.

Everything we long to see—unity, diversity, acceptance, expansiveness, connection, mutual aid—it’s happening in these groups. So by funding them we’re not just funding electoral wins. We’re funding a more just, compassionate, multicultural, and tolerant future. It’s critically important. And really uplifting, when you take time to hear about the work these groups are doing.

“We’re not just funding electoral wins. We’re funding a more just, compassionate, multicultural, and tolerant future.”

Bad news tends to float to the top, but when we seek out information about the hopeful, transformational work being done by MVP-funded groups, we are lifted up.

If we then invest in their work, more good things happen, and we get more hope, and the cycle continues. So let’s do that!



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