by Vicky Dinges
Vice President, Public Social Responsibility
Allstate Insurance Co.
What do actress/activist Rosario Dawson, Queen Latifah, babies, men in high heels, TV anchors, stock traders and YWCA team members and volunteers from across the country have in common? In an awesome display of leadership, they helped pass more than 35,000 purple purses this October as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and helped raise $250,000 for the YWCA and domestic violence survivors.
For the last three years, The Allstate Foundation and YWCA have partnered to increase public awareness and funding for domestic violence survivors. Since the YWCA is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the nation, it makes perfect sense for us to collaborate. Our partnership has grown dramatically since our first Twitter campaign raised $75,000 for YWCA in 2010. This year, YWCA USA and 14 local YWCAs across the country took on the challenge of passing a purple purse (with domestic violence information inside) in their communities. Every time a purse was passed and registered on www.PurplePurse.com, The Allstate Foundation donated $10 to YWCA. For individuals who didn’t get an actual purse to pass, a “virtual purse” could be shared via Facebook to generate a $5 donation to the YWCA. The simple purple purse is a powerful icon for our work. The purse represents the center of a woman’s financial domain and purple is the color of the domestic violence issue. With this icon, we hope to make it easier to start important conversations about domestic violence.
Associations got really creative to promote purple purse passes. They let their hometowns know that domestic violence is real, it’s prevalent and survivors need our help. YWCA Cass Clay called on local celebrities in Fargo, N.D., to appear in a Purple Purse video. YWCA New York City took purses to the New York Stock Exchange. The response was simply amazing! Within two weeks of the program’s launch, we met our fundraising goal of $175,000. We upped our challenge to $250,000 and promptly met that goal in just 10 more days. We can’t thank the YWCA USA and local YWCA partners enough for their incredible work. The funding raised will ensure domestic violence survivors get the services they need to break free from violence.
Although Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, we all must stay focused on ending violence against women — all year long. Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has helped survivors of domestic violence become economically empowered, donating more than $30 million to national and local organizations. We’ve chosen an economic focus because research demonstrates that a lack of financial knowledge and resources is one of the main reasons survivors of domestic violence remain in abusive relationships. Survivors need unique tools and resources to be able to plan for safe and successful futures. Fortunately, we know that there are countless YWCA heroes helping survivors each and every day. And, to all of them, we say thank you for what you do throughout the year to offer hope to so many families.
Vicky Dinges is vice president of public social responsibility for Allstate Insurance Co. She also is a board member for the YWCA Evanston/North Shore in Illinois.