A couple of weeks ago, Terri and I, along with Goddess Les and many others, were at the NAAFA Convention in Dulles, VA (near Washington, DC). It was co-located and concurrent with the ASDAH convention. NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) and ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity and Health) are sister organizations, so there was a lot of overlap and good synergy.
Along with the usual program and bag of goodies, attendees received printed copies of NAAFA’s 2009 Annual Report, plus a fact sheet on size discrimination. I want to talk a bit here about the Annual Report; possibly later I or someone else will talk about the fact sheet, and other aspects of the convention. To be honest, it would take thousands of words to do justice to the 2009 Convention.
Back to the Annual Report. It’s an incredible achievement, considering that NAAFA’s fiscal year ended June 30. Getting a report like this out in one month is rare. It’s eight pages, plus the cover. The inside front cover has a NAAFA profile plus quick facts. Pages 1 and 2 contain a message to members, page 4 shows some example ignorant comments received by NAAFA over the fiscal year, page 6 has a strategic report card, and page 8 has financial highlights.
The report card is illuminating. Of NAAFA’s six goals in its five-year plan (we’re either two or three years along, depending upon whom you talk to), only two (Goal 1: organizational steamlining and Goal 2: grow membership) have seen any progress. And it’s not clear that membership has grown at all, just that NAAFA has done several things to promote growth, such as lowering its fees. NAAFA has made very little progress on its other goals (Goal 3: pursue universal healthcare, Goal 4: FLARE fund programs, Goal 5: civil rights & legislation, and Goal 6: child advocacy). NAAFA has fought some battles on Goals 5 and 6, but hasn’t won many. (I think NAAFA members may have helped a case of child abuse in Nevada, but I’m not sure of the outcome of that.)
I applaud NAAFA for its efforts, and for grading itself honestly. Why hasn’t NAAFA been more successful? Partly it’s due to lack of money; NAAFA can’t hire staff to do the grunt work because there’s no money for that. It’s frustrating because there are so many fat people who can and do benefit from NAAFA’s efforts, but aren’t members. I invite all reading this to go to www.naafa.org and join NAAFA if you haven’t already; it’s only $15!
But the report card also lists a lack of people for nearly everything on the page. Honestly, I think that part of that is the NAAFA Board of Directors structure. Due to fears about volunteers “running wild”, all projects have to have close Board supervision, and there are just not enough Board members to do that. The result is that NAAFA is not open to implementing ideas from its membership, even if the member is willing to staff and pay for its implementation.
NAAFA is an important voice for fat people, and NAAFA continues to get press as the premier fat rights organization. And frankly, I love NAAFA. But there’s only so much the Board can do. I hope the Board can find a way to let volunteers help more.