Only one has. And I had a private conversation with a member of another group in Atlantic Canada.
The first thing to know: not all groups operate the same way.
I got a reply from an organizer of 100 Women Who Care Ottawa, who used only her first name. In my initial email I advised that I would be blogging further on the topic so any responder should consider herself on the record. Since I'm not sure she she understood that, I won't use her name. (I'll send her a link to this blogpost and update as necessary.)
She said that the Ottawa group "votes with their money (instead of a global vote so one charity ends up with all the funds)." Members are free to write their cheques to any of the three charities selected to make pitches, as their "Charities" page shows.
I asked about vetting charities, specifically the fake clinic, First Place Options. She said:
We do indeed vet the charities to see if they fit our criteria, which you will find on our website. The steering committee struggled with this one, but in the end, we decided that if one of our members nominated them in good faith and if they met our criteria, we had no grounds to eliminate them because of our own beliefs.
As for whether members are given time to do their own vetting, she said charities are selected and announced at one (quarterly) meeting and make their pitches at the next. So, members have three months to decide which charity to support.
Good. That all seems reasonable and responsible.
A different story was told to me by a member from a similar group in Atlantic Canada.
She said that the charities selected to pitch are not announced in advance. The first members hear about them is at the pitch meeting.
I asked whether there was any discussion among members before voting. Nope. Just vote and all write cheques to the "winner."
What happens if individual members don't approve of the winner? She didn't know. As far as she knew, it hadn't happened.
Upshot: The Ottawa group has a better procedure both in informing their members of the nominees in advance and in allowing them to dissent from the majority decision.
The point -- and the big draw, I expect -- of such groups is efficiency. Busy people show up, listen to pitches from three randomly chosen local charities, vote, write cheques, and they're done.
I've since looked at websites for several such groups and the two common criteria for a charity's eligibility for nomination by a member are:
• Charitable registration, i.e. able to issue tax receipts directly to members; and
• Location and services must be local.
Nothing about ethics. Or lack of them.
The charitable registration is key.
So, I ask again: WHY are fake clinics -- whose aim is to dissemble and manipulate in the service of their anti-choice/anti-abortion mission -- allowed to be registered as charities?
How can striving to curtail a targetted population's rights NOT be political?
If you think it is, Canada Revenue Agency is holding an online consultation on "charities' political activities." Let them know what you think. The deadline is November 25, 2016.