As Rose shared recently, we are entering into our Spring Fundraising campaign. As we prepared our board and staff to meet this moment that we are in, we dug into the archives and found a gem that captures the heart of our Living in Gift philosophy. After sharing it with our board during our recent board retreat, we saw how deeply it resonated and helped clarify the transformative dimensions of our Living in Gift model. I am writing this blog to offer this gem to you all, our community, and hope that doing so allows you to see giving in a new way.
As you read about the metaphor below, I invite you to notice what comes up for you. Paying attention to ourselves as we talk about money is one of Wisdom & Money’s fundamental money practices.
Fundraising in Integrity
From the beginning, we have sought to invite gifts in a way that was consistent with our identity, which is characterized by transparency, partnership, moving in Spirit, and heart-centered living. As a result, our approach to fundraising includes the following practices:
- Sourcing our fundraising in prayer and relationship
- Being transparent about our needs and our budget
- Asking for permission to have fundraising conversations
- Being honest when anyone was experiencing distress in the process of fundraising,
- Requesting support from the staff and board
- Building a circle of partners
- Welcoming clear yeses and clear nos–for us, undergoing the process of discernment is what is most important and what most honors our work.
In addition, we also build our budget from our “full vision” that provides adequate resources for our next steps and we invite gifts to support that vision. We do not look at what we have and try to fit in our vision, but rather, we lead with our vision and invite in gifts to meet it in its fullness.
In considering our vision and values, we asked ourselves:
What is Community Supported Ministry?
The idea of Community Supported Ministry takes its inspiration from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In that funding model, a local community that values organic farming provides money that the farmer needs to do their work before the growing season. In return, the farmer and the community share the fruits of the harvest. The farmer and the CSA members also share in the challenges of difficult years. The CSA model is a non-market model of economic activity that is sourced in community and a mutual exchange of gifts.
How our model differs from conventional fundraising
Community Supported Ministry—which we also refer to as “Living In Gift”—is Wisdom & Money’s funding model. However, this model differs from CSAs in a few key ways:
- W&M does not set an evenly divided “share price” that everyone pays in order to participate. Instead, everyone is invited to make gifts that express the transformation they are experiencing and/or to find their “growing edge” and offer (or receive) a gift that helps open to their next place of movement. While the dollar amounts of gifts may be vastly different, everyone shares in the practice of giving (or receiving) at their edge.
- W&M sees the mutual exchange of giving and receiving at the heart of this model as participating in a sacred exchange that is at the heart of divine love.
Community Supported Ministry is also quite distinct from conventional philanthropy and fundraising. Here are some ways we understand the distinction:
How does this work in practice?
At Wisdom & Money, we open everything up, taking our private money concerns and sharing them with each other. Together, we engage in conversations and transformative practices over a period of years. Our practices include:
- Wisdom practices, such as Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina
- Transformative money practices, such as financial transparency and open conversations about money
- The Be Present Empowerment Model®
Over time, we have become an alternative community that lives into a new economy, one that moves in the flow of Spirit. What does being in the flow of Spirit mean? This can look like many things. In my own life, I understand it through the posture of a gently cupped hand, to receive and to give. It’s not a tightly closed fist or even a flat opened palm. It is being a vessel for which the greater Flow of life to move through.
When we are in this flow, our vision of money changes, including what it means that it is “ours”. From this place of community and recognizing interdependence, members are invited into the flow. We invite them to offer gifts that support this work, gifts that open their hearts and express the transformation they experience and seek. This is the aforementioned co-creation. Our gifts to the work are an act of creation, just like a farmer planting a seed.
Of course, constriction or distress may arise when being invited to participate in the flow by making a gift. Noticing and exploring what happens in the process of being asked for a gift or making a gift is a key practice and part of the process. We take those observations to our circles or to a staff member to help us release the constriction and return to a place of freedom and flow. We celebrate the discernment and clarity that comes when we release our constrictions, whether the response to an invitation to gift is a clear yes, no, or maybe!
The fruit of our Community Supported Ministry
The fruit of this ministry is each of US! At Wisdom & Money, we acknowledge Spirit as the reality and unifier beyond perceived distinctions and separation. Your transformation is my transformation. My healing is your healing. Your investment is my gift. My gift is an investment in you. The Boston Circle’s transformation is the ABC Circle’s transformation. The growth of the staff is the cultivation of the community.
When our money is flowing in Spirit, we know that millions of dollars are unleashed and flow forth more freely through us as a community, toward justice and freedom for all people. This work helps our network members cultivate the courage to put their money where their hearts are. Whether it is funding a soap business in Rwanda, paying off debt together, co-purchasing property, repairing homes, funding education with those who cannot afford it, the money brings transformation wherever it flows.
Turning to you…
What shifts happen for you when you consider yourself a partner and co-creator of this Community Supported Ministry? How does that impact your understanding of how you show up in this community?