Thursday, August 11, 2011

Financial Healing First--Fundraising Second!

Financial Freedom!
Are you in a position in your job where you handle money, whether you help vision, manage it or raise it. Have you thought about how easy it might come to you to raise money for your organization but not in your personal life or vice versa. Does your org budget reflect your personal budget? Did you become a fundraiser, join a board or volunteer to raise money but then couldn't make it happen? Do you manage the budget of your organization similar to how you manage your own money at home?

During this financial crisis, we are asking more and more for young and adult women to step into the front lines and fund raise, actually, we don't have a choice but i know how frustrating it is to have a team come up with really great ideas, to sit and strategically plan, create a beautiful fundraising strategy and budget to go with it and then it never quite happens. Only a few step in and step up, others try but never really can and for others there is this overwhelming paralyzing fear that doesn't let them ask and no one knows really knows how to even begin to have the dialogue of what happened because know its evaluation time and some people are resentful. We have really great intentions we do and we know that without money somethings just cant happen, so what happens to us?

Ill be honest, I  happen to me and the collective. I had to take a good look at what my relationship to money was in order to even figure out how to manage someone-elses money. As Executive Directors, women on the front lines, young women in the movement,  we have no choice and if we cant do it we hire someone else who could. We have to hire a team although as women in these times that team is just us and maybe another person who is really trying, sounds good but doesn't really know where to start to help us figure out the finances in our organizations. How many of us have the same  strategic plan or a diversified fundraising plan for the past couple of years? Why?

The struggle of financial hardship for people of color non profit organizations come way before capitalism. Like inter-generational violence, scarcity mentality and the impact of poverty also get passed down. Sustainability has a meaning for us often times related to struggle, giving up what we like in order to get what we need, it meant working hard, seeing our mothers, families busting , hustling, being slaves and never getting enough, never having enough, stressed, burnt out, being silenced and dis-empowered. Sometimes it meant starving or prostituting ourselves mind, body and spirit. And we saw and we witnessed and we had to even contribute, growing up way to soon, heading households, taking care of brothers and sisters. Sending money back home, taking care of two families. And we did it , we did it all, we stretched the dollar we didnt even have. And we prayed, we had faith, we communed and we took care of each other. That's what women do , we make a dollar stretch.

We were, we are and continue to be philanthropists, that's what makes us resilient during these hard economic times. That philanthropy is innate, we give with our hearts, we take care of our communities, we take care of each other and each others children way before foster care. And that is why we are still standing no matter what recession comes because we have been in a recession for most all of our lives. I saw, I saw my mother make it with nothing, leave her family, become a domestic worker, be a slave and she never complained. I was always like this lady has money somewhere this cant be true. But every month, every penny was accounted for, she would go to broad way and send money back home and supported her eight sisters, her mother and family and friends she met along the way.

While there is a beauty in this story I think about my own relationship to money. My own debt. I think about how to pull an organizational into financial stability when I don't have it. i think about the women I work with and I wonder what is our collective thinking about money. Do we think we are worth it? Can we undo the scarcity mentality and ask funders for what we think we are really worth? When we have to go ask for money what do we really think? Why have we not increased our budget, how hard is it really for people to ask for something they believe in? What comes up?

When we have to put price for a workshop, membership, a fundraising event what do we think about? when we have to fight with our community because they can give the white mans institution money to get the same info they can get if not more at your place but they cant pay you, how does that impact our movement?

I know for me I had to learn to let people make their own decision. I remember having a donor drive and people saying we cant ask the community for money, they don't have money, right?  they are the ones we are saying that resources are scarce for. And then one day this little girl about 5 years old walks into my organization and  hands us a jar full of pennies cause she had been in the program and heard us talking about needing money.

So many things came up that day because some of us believed we shouldn't take it. And I remember thinking i have the opportunity to make or break this innate sharing ability, philanthropy within this young women based on my reaction. I was holding her relationship to money in my hands and who she would become as a result. And so we took it because she had made a choice, she wanted to contribute to something she believed in whether it was her last dime or not.

And we often time make those choices for people because of our own agreements, we never ask. We say they wont, they cant, we don't deserve, I don't believe  and with that we are telling our community that they are powerless in the face of money. It is our right to ask as is the right of our community to give their last cent if that is what they choose to do!

So, for our organizations and for ourselves here is a beautiful meditation for healing debt that i found.

The Meditation For Healing Debt Fears

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