Brian Fisher was a successful businessman when he launched a charitable organization with the goal of taking a creative and tech-driven approach to saving unborn babies — a venture that eventually led him to abandon the corporate world completely.
Online for Life founder Brian Fisher (Image source: Online for Life)
But transitioning full-time into the pro-life space wasn't always his plan.
"God just wouldn’t let this idea go of saving children from death in the womb and so in 2009 — honestly, begrudgingly — I started a nonprofit," Fisher told TheBlaze. "I didn’t want to start a nonprofit. There’s plenty nonprofits to go around."
His organization, Online for Life, uses the Internet to convince pregnant women considering abortion to choose a different path, after he realized there weren't any organizations fully using technology to achieve the same goal.
The Founding of Online for Life
Fisher's journey started in 2007 when he was CEO of Coral Ridge Ministries, a Florida-based Christian organization. At the time, he was testing how technology could help stop abortion, learning lessons he had no idea he'd soon be putting into practice.
While he ended up leaving the organization and heading back into the business world, Fisher said that research — and the nagging calling to address abortion — didn't escape him. He soon began thinking more deeply about the issue and began crafting a plan of action.
"I thought if we could basically go to where the women who are hurting are, which is online — there’s 2 million Internet searches a month for abortion terms in the United States" — it would have a huge impact, he said. "So that’s where the mission field is, if you will."
"Then if we could go and bring them into an environment that was caring and compassionate, and that there was a support network there where they could legitimately feel security which most of them don’t feel, then we had a shot at saving children," he said.
Online for Life was born in 2009 after Fisher teamed up with other businessmen looking to make a difference. It started as a volunteer organization, with its founders continuing their for-profit careers while devoting free time to the cause.
How It Works
Since its inception, the concept behind Online for Life has been simple: The group ensures that Internet searches for abortion include prominent links to pro-life causes instead of only showing women links to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
The idea is to urge these women to visit pro-life clinics and to bring their children to term rather than seek abortions. Online for Life tracks the search results and appointments women make to assess how effective the ministry is in its reach.
Fisher said that the first victory came June 22, 2010, when the group's first baby was saved in Pittsburgh.
After purchasing some simple ad words online in a 10-mile radius around a pregnancy center in the city, the center's director called and said that a woman had come in for help and decided to keep her baby.
"That child is now 3 years old," he said. "It was just a very emotional moment for me personally because I recognized that if we could cooperatively rescue one, we could cooperatively rescue thousands."
The mother and her fiance were going to choose an abortion before Online for Life led them to the pro-life clinic — an event that changed everything.
Online for Life's Growth and Development
Since that first victory, Online for Life's operations have grown. In 2012, Fisher and two of his partners made a major leap, leaving their business jobs behind and working in the ministry full-time.
It was at least a 25 percent pay cut for Fisher, but he said it couldn't have been more worthwhile. In just a few short years, the organization has grown to around 35 employees, serving women in 23 states.
He said 1,976 babies have been saved.
"We have not only the marketing piece, we reach the women, we have a call center that talks to the women, and we’re actually opening up our own clinics this year and we’ll be operating two clinics," he said. "One in Texas and one in Pennsylvania. Two very different places."
As businessmen, Fisher and his fellow Online for Life staffers rely heavily on metrics and performance benchmarks to ensure they're reaching at-risk women online and on the telephone, helping refer these women to pro-life pregnancy centers.
They can even measure how effective counseling is for these individuals once they're at the clinic.
"It’s designed to build a customized support network for each client that addresses not only the crisis of saving the child but also what are the extenuating circumstances that brought her to that situation in the first place," he said. "And also the ultimate goal is to get that family plugged into a church, because they need to have that permanent support network that a proper church or a parish provides."
The group also sends out mobile ultrasound units to reach portions of cities that aren't well-served.
The 'Three-Seven Problem'
Fisher told TheBlaze that his group has plenty of work to do, noting a phenomenon he dubbed the "three-seven problem" -- the notion that for every 100 women who opt for an abortion, the pro-life movement, on average, only reaches three of them (3 percent).
"So, 97 women are not even being approached with a different message or an alternative to what they’re doing," he said. "And then when they do get connected into some sort of a pro-life venture, only seven out of 100 are choosing life because we really don’t yet understand how to speak effectively and to deal with compassionate in some of those challenges so we have been focusing mainly on market penetration."
In Dallas, for instance, Fisher said that Online for Life has been able to raise the 3 percent to 18 percent, by using measurable Internet and offline marketing.
Online for Life also connects women with 50 local crisis pregnancy centers so that they can be equipped with resources and support moving forward in their pregnancy. But the organization also serves men, helping deal with the impact abortion they might feel as well -- a phenomenon that is not typically addressed.
Despite his initial reluctancy, Fisher is now captivated and amazed by the progress Online for Life is making.
"When you have the honor of participating in saving someone’s life, and you recognize that that can be done over and over again, for the betterment of the family," he explained. "Not to fill yourself up, but because you recognize the joy that happens when someone who was about to make an abortion decision chooses life and feels the blessings of parenthood and childhood because of it or adoption."
This story has been updated.
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