Empowered Fundraising

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Fact Sheet Number 8:  Empowered Fundraising: Radical Generosity – the Power of Philanthropy to Change the World, By John Croft and Dot Green

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Introduction to Demystifying Money

Empowered Fundraising is about transforming people’s relationship with money.  Empowered fundraising is a means of creating opportunities for people to engage with their own greatness.  Currently this is far from our current attitude to money or to fundraising.

Without doubt our current relationship with money is the source of one of the greatest wounds most individuals carry – it is a source of their alienation from their own ability to create what is of true value – a sustainable future that works for all, and thus is an alienation from their own deepest sources of creativity.

Empowered fundraising, in the words of Lynne Twist, aims to inspire, educate and empower you to realign the acquisition and allocation of financial resources with your most deeply held values.  The approach is committed to providing programs and resources that shift your relationship with money from dependency, confusion and disempowerment to one of freedom, meaning, and contribution.

Conventionally we all have an “identified though largely unconscious and unexamined relationship with money that shapes our experience of life and our deepest feelings about ourselves and others”.  This comes from the way in which we use and create money in our communities.

Economists, tell us that money has a number of different functions.

Economically Money functions

1.    As a means of exchange; money overcomes the problem of barter as a means of facilitating exchange, in circumstances where the “double coincidence of needs” is not found.  This refers to a barter transaction where one person has something required by another, and they have something to trade of agreed equal value.  Failure to meet these conditions means that a barter transaction cannot occur.
2.    As a measure of value: money is a means by which different persons can agree upon an assessment of how much they value some good or service, in the same way that an inch or centimetre is an agreed measure of length.  To serve as a measure of value, money must be divisible into agreed units, have an agreed and recognisable value and to be countable.  As Lynne Twist says, “Money is often given more value than life itself.”
3.    As a store of value: To function as a store of value money must be able to be saved, stored and retrieved, without major loss of value.  This function, however, can encourage hoarding, which, if money is not reinvested, removes money from circulation, so increasing its scarcity in the community.

In addition to these economic functions, and in part as a result of them, money also has a number of often unstated political functions, resulting in part from the way it is created.

Politically Money functions

4.    As a means of rationing access to scarce goods and services:  Many goods are in short supply, and therefore cannot be made universally available.  By rationing these services and making them only available to those with money, a monetary system can ensure that goods are rationed to those with sufficient purchasing power.
5.    As a means of making money:  The golden rule of economics is sometimes stated, as “those who have the gold make the rules”.  Because credit money is a demand for future payment, it can be used to purchase the goods and services of commodities today in ways that can be used, not for meeting immediate needs, but instead solely for the purpose of making yet more money.  As a result those with access to credit money tend to grow richer faster than those without such access.
6.    As a means to power:  Because through a credit system, money can be used to increase one’s stock of money, money also serves a political function, giving differential access to the goods and services that confer social, political and economic power within a community.  “Fiat money” is money that is created out of nothing but is declared to be in existence by government or by a central bank.  Fiat money may be subject to inflation, through imbalance with the circulation of goods and services, and can reduce the power of some whilst increasing that of others.

Close examination of these different functions of money within any community, demonstrates that not all of these functions are strictly compatible, and some functions are in fact mutually contradictory.  These contradictions mystify the nature of money, and make it more difficult for the normal person to understand.  Thus money as a means of rationing access to goods and services, may tend to allocate financial resources to meeting the luxurious “wants” of those with greatest purchasing power, rather than in meeting the real needs for “subsistence” of the poorest sections of a community.  The way corn is currently being used for biofuel rather than feeding people in the Third World is an example in point.

Another example concerns money as a store of value.  Thus money can be used as a means of making money, and this results in capital flows away from communities where the ease of making more money is restricted.  In these cases the use of money as a means of exchange or a measure of value is restricted as money flows towards those communities where the ease of making money is more plentiful.  The scarcity of money in the former communities is not due, necessarily, to any shortage of skills, of resources or of a local demand for goods and services – it may be due purely due to the scarcity of money.  This scarcity of money may result in people seeking access to money in inappropriate ways, resorting to criminal activity or prostitution.  For example, the adage – “he who pays the piper calls the tune” is directly relevant to community or environmental organisations.  When such organisations are dependent upon government or business corporations, this will severely limit their ability to take a critical role vis a vis these institutions, without it directly interfering with their own continued economic viability.

This confusion about money also extends to the “creation of money”.  Our money today is created through fractional reserve banking.  Here money is “created” through loans given by banks, which inject “new money” into the economy. This ensures that whilst the principal of a loan may be created, the “interest” on that loan becomes a future demand, associated with repayment, and thus the “lender” gambles that they will be able to recover more money from the loan than they lent in the first place.  Because only the principal is immediately created, economic growth and the injection of yet more money is an imperative, and failure to achieve such growth will result in widespread bankruptcy.  These circumstances create insecurity as they also ensure that the amount of money is always perceived to be in short supply.   As a result in “monetary societies”, money comes to be one of the central linchpins of our lives, and “everyone is interested in money and almost all of us feel a chronic concern and even fear that we don’t have enough or will be able to keep enough of it…. Many live openly with the accumulation of money as our primary goal.  No matter how much money we have or don’t have (we) worry that we don’t or won’t have enough” .

As Lynne Twist says in her book “The Soul of Money”, these characteristics have a strange effect.  “Each of us experiences a lifelong tug-of-war between our money interests and the calling of our soul. When we’re in the domain of soul, we act with integrity. We are thoughtful and generous, allowing, courageous, and committed. We recognize the value of love and friendship. We admire a small thing well done. We experience moments of awe in the presence of nature and its unrefined beauty. We are open, vulnerable, and heartful. We have the capacity to be moved, and generosity is natural. We are trustworthy and trusting of others, and our self-expression flourishes. We feel at peace within ourselves and confidant that we are an integral part of a larger, more universal experience, something greater than ourselves.

When we enter the domain of money, there often seems to be a disconnect from the soulful person we have known ourselves to be. It is as if we are suddenly transported to a different playing field where all the rules have changed. In the grip of money, those wonderful qualities of soul seem to be less available. We become smaller. We scramble or race to “get what’s ours.” We often grow selfish, greedy, petty, fearful, or controlling, or sometimes confused, conflicted or guilty. We see ourselves as winners or losers, powerful or helpless, and we let those labels deeply define us in ways that are inaccurate, as if financial wealth and control indicate innate superiority, and lack of them suggests a lack of worth or basic human potential. Visions of possibility dissolve. We become wary and mistrusting, protective of our little piece, or helpless and hopeless. We sometimes feel driven to behave in ways inconsistent with our core values, and unable to act differently.”

The result is a deep division in our way of being, in our behaviour, and in our sense of our own character and integrity. This dichotomy, this break in our truth, not only confuses us around the issue of money, it also keeps us from integrating our inner and outer worlds to experience wholeness in our lives, the exquisite moment when we feel at peace in the moment, a part of and one with life. This quieter experience of wholeness has been largely lost in our culture, overtaken by the noise and scramble around money. The gap exists for all of us — myself included — and is at the very heart of the toughest struggles in life for all of us.  It is sustained, as Lynne Twist says in her Video, by three powerful myths.

•    The myth of scarcity: that we don’t have enough (time, money, love etc) to meet our needs.
•    The myth that more is better: that if we could have more (money, time, love) if would improve situations.
•    The myth that this is the way it is: that no alternative way is possible.

In the name these myths of money we have done (and continue to do) immense damage to the Earth.  We destroy rainforests, dam and decimate rivers, overfish oceans, rivers and lakes, and have poisoned our soil with chemicals from industry and agriculture.  We have ghettoised whole segments of society, forcing them into slums and shanties, exploited whole regions and nations and forced young into selling drugs or their own bodies for money.  We use money to assign age-old inequalities between men and women and distort people’s expectations and obligations in reference to the pursuit of money.  While people are prepared to challenge and critique almost every other aspect of life, few ever challenge the role of money in establishing what is worthwhile in human life.

This behaviour, motivated by the scarcity of money leads the personal growth movement to speak of abundance. But abundance is the flip side of scarcity thinking, meaning it’s just as negative and we don’t need to go there. A more empowering story is the story of “sufficiency” of “enoughness”.  As Gandhi said “There is enough on our planet (whether you believe it or not) for each one of us to live a healthy, productive and happy life.  There is not enough for just one greedy man”.  Needless to say this greed is usually motivated by the desire for more money.  Enough is a belief in ourselves, it’s a simpler way to live, to focus on what we actually have in our lives and appreciate it, instead of flying past enough, not even seeing it, trying to get more, more and still more. The great scarcity myths: “there isn’t enough”, “more is better” and “that’s just the way it is.”  Such attitudes affect us all, whether we live in poor Third World settings or we are super rich CEOs of major corporations.

Healing our relationship with money is an important part of moving from an industrial scarcity economy (built upon unceasing growth of consumerism and waste) to a sufficiency economy (built upon “enoughness” for all beings, human and non-human, and increasing as a result the resilience for communities and environments).  This is the central task of our age.   Empowered fundraising helps with this process.

Case Study 1: The Pilgrimage Project

In 1997 a Gaia Foundation project group, forged during a workshop run by Joanna Macy in Denmark, Western Australia was immensely touched by the story of Novozybkov, a community of 50,000 people of the Bryansk region of Russia, arguably the most radioactive town still inhabited after the Chernobyl disaster.  To draw attention to the role Australia was playing in the disastrous nuclear industry, and to prevent Uranium mining commencing in Jabiluka, in the Kakadu National Park against the wishes of the Aboriginal custodians, a group of five people came together with the intention of bringing two people from Novozybkov to Australia, to be involved with an anti-nuclear pilgrimage to all the potential Uranium mine sites, and to spread awareness of the damaging nature of the nuclear fuel cycle and of Australia’s role within this deadly industry.  It was decided to take a cameraman and a journalist on the pilgrimage with the possibility of creating a permanent record of the journey.

The group decided to depart on the 6th August 1997, the forty second anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima.  They had 10 weeks to raise the approximately $100,000 needed for the project.  With support of the database supplied by the Greens, over 5,000 letters were sent out begging for money, and the sum of only $400, barely enough to pay for the postage, was received.  It was clear that this would not work and that a different system of fundraising was required. If we continued going like this, trying to run “raffles”, “lamington drives” or “jumble sales” we’d finish many thousands of dollars short of our target.  At that time I had been marginally involved in another case of empowered fundraising in Western Australian town of Katanning, and so knew that a different system of raising funds through mobilising a whole community by donor directed philanthropic contribution.  With a number of others involved in the Pilgrimage Project we knew of the work of Cathy Burke, an Australian fundraiser who had been working with The Hunger Project for a number of years, and had personally been involved in raising millions of dollars for Third World communities.

We are all connected in invisible networks of personal friendship and acquaintance that help define who we are.  These friends are themselves centres of other networks, that spin quickly into the millions and hundreds of millions.  Some people are nodes and hubs of extensive networks of information and interconnection.  Others are linked through fewer but deeper relationships.  Building a truly sustainable world is going to require the mobilisation of these networks in the task of changing government policy and industrial practice and in building the life sustaining communities and ecosystems we will need for our future.  Cathy showed the Pilgrimage Project, that by mobilising these networks with common purpose and commitment, we could raise the funding we needed for the project.

But the old attitudes to money built around lack, scarcity and insufficiency were deeply rooted.  Some were a little threatened by the novel approach and so did not attend the first or even a second Empowered Fundraising workshop.  It was only with the running of the third two day residential workshop that all people on the team became enthused with the new approach.  As a result within 10 weeks we  were wildly successful at raising the funds needed and the Pilgrimage Project, launched from St Georges Cathedral, Perth, was launched.

Case Study 2: The Town of Katanning

Katanning is a community of about 5,700 people in the Upper Great Southern of the Western Australian wheatbelt, provided many of the features of a successful fundraising mobilisation.  In the late 1980s it was a town that lacked adequate recreational facilities.  For many years the community had spoken of what needed to be done, but nothing had ever happened.  It was clearly a case of “everybody”, “anybody”, “somebody” and “nobody”.  “Everybody decided that something could be done, anybody could have done it, somebody should have done it, but nobody did it.  As a result everybody looked for somebody to blame, it could be anybody, but nobody took responsibility”.

Eventually the community decided to do something about it and set up a committee made up of community people with some councillors and staff involved to create the centre the community needed.  Within this group it was essential that there was a commitment and belief in the project – and those people on the committee needed to have made a contribution themselves both financially and in terms of time, committed to the project, proportional to their capacity.  These people were later to become the most important fundraisers, and it is essential that these people are not asking others to do what they are not prepared to be doing themselves. People can clearly detect such hypocrisy in the body language when it occurs.  The group comprised those who were considered Peak Community Leaders of the project (2 former Shire Presidents and others), they were people who were recognised in the community as having the ability to help form and shape public opinion.

The committee then set about working for a considerable time on the proposal within a concentrated period of work for 6 months, meeting every 2-3 weeks.  To ensure community participation and involvement the Committee was chaired by a community member.  Over this time it also formed a number of sub-committees to assist in the efforts.

The Shire of Katanning did all the secretarial support, behind the scenes work, but this committee was divorced from the Council, in order to ensure that when they went out to ask people for money, the Council would not be involved.  This was an issue because ethically it violates the duties of Council officers to ask for donations, as the Council was already collecting rates from people in the community to meet the needs of the community.

The Council then undertook to employ a professional fund-raiser – Ern Flint from Sydney, New South Wales.  The Council engaged him on a Council Contract, as a contract fundraiser.  His professional services were engaged to coordinate the campaign.

To begin with in 10 days he interviewed a cross section of 60 people from the community with an hour of time being spent with each person.  This allowed the identification of a great deal of other information.   A Committee of 3 people was formed and given an office in the Shire.  This committee had the task of bringing these 60 people together.    From within this group, two sources of funding were sought

1.    Direct donations from contact from community people
2.    Corporate sponsorships from local business persons.

Em Flint then went out with 12 people on the committee to talk to people about making contributions.  He was also responsible for developing Donor Gift Recipient status (auspiced through the Australian Sport’s Foundation), which made it easier to sell the whole concept to the community.

The committee then went through the rate book of Council and split people up into contributor groups – Community Donors, Corporate Sponsorship, and Contributions in Kind.  Sub-committees were established, and each sub committee was chaired by a person on the peak committee.  New people were encouraged to get involved in each sub committee to spread the load.

Training was provided by the coordinator to the sub-committee, and this passed on those skills of ways to engage in building a genuine and authentic one-to-one relationship with all potential donors.

Through Feb – March publicity was also placed through local press, mail-outs were organised to individuals and the campaign built up to a climax.

The group targeted potentially larger givers first.  This raised people’s sights as to what was possible, and created a sense of infectious enthusiasm within the community as to what was possible.  By building these personal one to one relationships with potential donors and then enrolling these investors in seeking further contributions, the community mobilised its family, friendship, collegial and community networks and succeeded in raising $1.5 million for the project within 10 weeks.


So how can this training and campaign style approach lead to empowered fundraising?

A focus upon scarcity leads to a competitive win-lose zero-sum games of “you or me” – world of winners and losers.  In such circumstances cooperative behaviours are irrational as unless you can help me win, our association is unproductive.  Empowered fundraising however challenges this ethos and leads to compassionate cooperation, a win-win positive sum game of “you and me” where we are gathered together on a common productive purpose.

If money is a measure and store of value, then “how we use our money reflects our values in life?”.    And if we sincerely hope for a better world, then we must use some of our money in accordance with our life values – values for personal growth, strengthening the community or service to the Earth.  At the moment we seem to be using most of our money for mere survival (if poor) or to make more money (if rich).  Both attitudes are motivated from the notion of the scarcity of money.  Both produce a scarcity of true community value, and weaken community spirit.

But there is an alternative.  We can start using some of our money with the motivation to coming from our sense of sufficiency, to invest our souls in the transformation of this world, to join those who are engaged in this effort, then I believe with this means we truly can change the world, and build the life sustaining culture of the future.  This approach gives us a chance to move beyond our immediate personal comfort zone of non-action, into a new realm of engagement and participation in building such a better world.

How can this be done?  Firstly a community issue of importance is required.  There are many such issues present in our community.  We at the Gaia Foundation believe the projects worth supporting meet three conditions –

It has to be a project of:

1. Personal Growth – commitment to your own healing and empowerment

2. Community Building – strengthening the communities of which you are a part

3. Service to the Earth – enhancing the wellbeing and flourishing of all life


Once such a project is created and there is a team of committed people working to bring such a project into fruition, the costs for the project need to be estimated, and a timetable set for the completion of the fund-raising, and the launch of the project.  The group is then ready for their first Empowered Fundraising workshop.

Ironically, the secret of a fundraising workshop is not about money at all.  It is in reality about building a community of relationships – where each relationship is based upon links forged on risk, trust and intimacy.  It is essentially a process of true “community building”.  Unfortunately for us, community, like money is greatly misunderstood.  It comes from three words; “com” (in Latin) meaning “with” or “together”; “munis” (in Proto-Indo-European) meaning “the changes or exchanges that link” (and is the origin of our words for both “municipality” and “money”; and “ity” (from Latin, “itatus”) meaning “small”, “intimate or ‘local”.  Generally a community in our everyday life is seen as an accidental group of people who share only a little in common, but properly defined it is “the local changes and exchanges that link us together, in an intimate fashion”.  A true community is determined by the quality of communication that ties the group together.  It is a relationship built upon one’s deepest values, and upon the offer of making a difference to life itself.  The greatest gift in life is living according to one’s deepest values, and empowered fundraising is a giving of a gift of this true community to as many people as possible.  Raising the funds for your project is really about building the relationships that will sustain you both – the giver and the receiver – for a long time to c0me.

When soliciting for donations, given the conventional views about money, it is all too easy to come as a mendicant, a beggar, coming from lack or scarcity, seeking something in a situation of dependency upon those who are more powerful and have greater resources than oneself.  Such a scarcity motivation will automatically be communicated and will activate scarcity in others, and they will feel reluctant to contribute to such a project.  Faced with such a spirit, as a result people engaged in fundraising often attempt to organise something else – a raffle for instance, or a stall, selling goods for cash.  But such an attitude reinforces the disempowering belief that the cause for which you are seeking money is somehow worthless or valueless, and people will only contribute out of a desire to be a “winner”, or a “consumer” of another kind.  This further reinforces the scarcity consciousness about the issue of money and will minimise your chances in the future.  Again this leads all people involved to feel the cause is in someway worthless, or valueless, and leads even the people committed to the cause to dread the task of fundraising.  But through empowered fundraising there is another way.

Everyone, no matter how poor or wealthy, has a balance point, a point somewhere between a token and a sacrifice.

•    A token is where people may just reach into their pocket and give their loose change;

•    A sacrifice is where a person gives so much that they go without food or shelter, or some other important personal need is unmet.

This balance point depends upon the individual personal circumstances of the person involved.  Each person has one, and no-one really understands where your personal balance point is except yourself.  You are the expert in understanding the nature of your commitments in life, as only you have the understanding of where this point lies.

The second realisation is that the balance point of different people, wealthy or poor, is functionally equal to the balance point of another.  Conventional “scarcity based” fundraising is inclined to consider donations from wealthy people as of more value than is those of the poorer groups in society, but this just reinforces the power structure beliefs concerning wealth and poverty.  It is the funds in this balance point that represents the ultimate disposable income.  In a third world setting, the balance point of a poor peasant earning less than $1 per day may be a few cents.  For the head of a huge multinational corporation it may represent even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The secret here in “Empowered Fundraising” is that all balance points are equal, and should be treated equally.  $10 from a widowed pensioner may represent a greater sacrifice than $10,000 from a millionaire.

The first task for a person involved in an Empowered Fundraising workshop is to identify their own personal balance-point.  Then, in order to experience the “enoughness”, each person is encouraged to take a small step beyond this balance point, to stretch them beyond their personal comfort zone.  This is the primary contribution that is necessary.  Each person involved in the fundraising campaign makes such a personal commitment of just beyond their “comfort zone”, to ensure that they are in integrity, and are not asking others to do something they are not prepared to do themselves.  It is important to realise that anyone seeking to raise funds by this method of “Empowered Fundraising” is not asking someone to do something that they are not prepared to do themselves.  Having estimated their balance point people then write a personal dated I.O.U promissory note for that amount and date it according to when those funds will be made available to the project.  These promissory notes are then collected and totalled.  It is amazing how quickly these funds total up, and projects which may at first glance appear impossible, suddenly are realised to be do-able.

For example at an Empowered Fundraising workshop held at Schumacher College, Dartington, in Devon, England, held in February 2007, over ₤27,000 was raised within a few hours from a group of 17 people for projects to assist raise awareness of the problems of Climate Change.  The Western Australian Forest Alliance in April 2008 raised $13,700 from a group of seven people, in a workshop creating a project with a budget of $100,000.

Empowered Fundraising is always a case of the exchange of a truly reciprocal value, it is not the seeking of an unasked for gift.  In giving money, the person who makes this donation is getting the value of participation and engagement in a powerful and potentially life changing and rewarding project that aims to make a positive difference to ourselves, our communities and our Earth.  Not everyone has the time they can commit to such a project.  In “Empowered Fundraising”, this is the reciprocal value that is given, and thus rather than just a donation, such a contribution has much of the nature of an investment in the future – an investment in generosity from which all in a community will benefit ultimately, rather than such as normally the case, coming from a position of “scarcity” from which a single private individual may unduly benefit, often at the expense of ourselves, our communities or the planet.

Because of our monetary caused wounds, suffered at the hands of the ways we use money, it is all too often the case that an individual feels that a person who declines to make a contribution and who says “No” when asked, is in some way rejecting the person asking by rejecting the values of the person who is asking.  It is easy to internalise this as a negative feeling.  The secret to empowered fundraising is to have the “No” have the same meaning as a “Yes”, as both are an opportunity to establish a deeper relationship with that person, a relationship based upon value rather than upon superficial interests held in common.  In asking you are offering a genuine invitation to become involved, and an authentic invitation is based equally upon the power to decline as to accept.  Being disappointed by the “no” response will always be communicated in one’s body language, and this acts as a form of coercion that aims, rather than an invitation, as a form of manipulation, to get the person to say “yes”.  This is also motivated by our “scarcity consciousness” and is a form of disempowerment.

When given a “No”, however, the person involved should always follow up with three further questions.

1.    Could I ask “Why”?  We are sincerely interested in learning of the reasons why people either accept or decline our invitation, our offer to participate?
2.    Would you like us to ensure that you are to be kept informed about how this project is going?
3.    Do you know anyone else who may be interested in such a project, to whom you could introduce us?

Once again, there should be no obligation for anyone to answer these questions, as any sense of obligation will ultimately backfire upon the project.  A person who is dissatisfied will tend to tell many more people than the one who is satisfied in such circumstances.

This exchange of information about the project will keep the community relationships alive, and may, at a future date, lead to a person who originally declines the offer to engage with the project, to participate in some other, perhaps even more valuable, way.

Empowered fundraising is always as a result of face to face engagement with a person.  It never proceeds on the basis of a “cold ask” of the door-knock appeal or the telephone enquiry.  This is not to say that telephoning a person is possibly important but it should be for the purpose of arranging a face-to-face visit, or an appointment at some mutually convenient location.  On such an occasion, the relationship is always one in which you already have some depth of friendship, intimacy or acquaintance.  The person you phone or speak to is someone with whom you have had some prior contact, maybe only intermittently, but you are known to them.

How does one proceed from here?  Once each participating member has made their personal balance-point contribution to the project, each participant in the Empowered Fundraising Project is encouraged to make a list of 10 people, from within their personal network of family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances, whom they intend to ask within the next 3 weeks.  Based upon the nature of their already established relationship, each participant estimates where that person’s balance point may be.  This is the amount that a person will be asked for; it doesn’t matter at this time how accurate your assessment of their balance point is, they will be free to amend it either up or down when the approach is made.

Once this is done, the participating individual identifies the first three people they will approach, over the next week.  They then form themselves in pairs, to role-play the nature of the request.  The first task of the role play is to share with their partner, the nature of the relationship one has with the person who will be approached, and the nature of the place and circumstances in which the approach is going to be made.  This allows the partner to feel into the character of this person and “enrol themselves” into identifying how this person may possibly respond.  In asking such a person it is important that the following approach be clarified.

1.    Firstly, clarify that you clearly understand the nature of the project and can explain exactly what it is and why it is important.
2.    Secondly, establish as early as possible before the event that you are going to be asking the person to become a participant, who will engage in some way with the project.
3.    Thirdly, after you have introduced the nature of the project, share with them a little of the nature of “empowered fundraising” and the concept of the “balance point”.
4.    Then inform them that you have estimated their balance point to be $XXX, and ask them for that contribution.  Once you have asked the person it is important that you remain silent and allow the person to respond.  Don’t try to fill up any silence that may result at this time with further justification or explanation.
5.    At this point the person asked may either accept, increase or decrease the amount you have asked for, or decline altogether.  As before, be gracious in accepting whatever occurs at this point
6.    Finish by asking the three questions identified above.
a.    Could I ask “Why”?  We are sincerely interested in learning of the reasons why people either accept or decline our invitation, our offer to participate?
b.    Would you like us to ensure that you are to be kept informed about how this project is going?
c.    Do you know anyone else who may be interested in such a project, to whom you could introduce us?
7.    If the person has accepted your offer to participate, you may like to share a little of what you have learned through the Empowered Fundraising Workshop, and ask if they would like to participate in such a training event.

Once person A has had a chance to “role play” such a request it is the chance for person B to have a turn.  Once each person has had a go, it is a chance to debrief on how that felt.  What were the feelings that arose with the request?  How did the person in the role of the other feel about the openness, honesty and authenticity of the invitation to engage and participate?  What could have been improved?

The conclusion to this exercise is to build a team of support for those who are going to be making the requests.  The first member of this team is their “buddy” with whom they have role-played.  People at this time exchange names, addresses and contact details, and let the “buddy” know by when in the next week you will be making your first contact.  One at this stage promises to engage with one’s “buddy” at a time of mutual convenience to share how the approach went and what was the result.

It is important at this stage to collect a copy of all of the names and amounts that people on each list will be asked for.  These figures can then be totalled as this will, together with the first promissory notes, be the sum that will possibly result over the next three weeks from the Empowered Fundraising approach.  Once again, it is my experience that people are amazingly surprised at just how much money could be raised.


It is rare that a single Empowered Fundraising Workshop will be sufficient to raise the funds identified as necessary for the project.  There is also a need to establish the kind of coaching relationships that will assist those who have made the promises achieve the targets they have set themselves.  As with the Katanning project, much other work needs to occur behind the scenes.  Is Donor Gift Recipient status required for tax deductable contributions?  Can an auspicing body be found who will be prepared to extend and lend its credibility to the project?  How will participants in this process be kept informed of its progress?  How can the relationships that have been created by Empowered Fundraising be maintained and extended?  Those people who have volunteered to contribute in kind, either by proving time or materials to the project, how is this to be organised and acknowledged appropriately?  Money in these circumstances is always a means to an end and should never become an end in itself.

Albert Einstein once remarked “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  The current problems of our world are created ultimately by the economic, social and political rules we have chosen for our money system, our social interactions and our political decision making processes.  If we are to build a sustainable world for all, then this requires us changing our awareness of these things, and even more importantly, as Gandhi said for us to become “the change we wish to see in the world”.

But attendance in an Empowered Fundraising workshop is not enough to change our scarcity consciousness, nor the rules of money upon which our lives are currently based.  While a person has participated in an Empowered Fundraising workshop, the world as a whole has not altered.  It is still the world that created our original concepts about money.  Once the workshop is finished, an individual will start being more empowered with the concept of sufficiency and enoughness, but this feeling will fade over time, and the old scarcity consciousness will return.  In such circumstances, an Empowered Fundraising workshop will be worse than useless, as not only will it have not made a difference, but the individual person who has completed such training, will finish feeling that they now know everything about how to raise money for their project.  This is a mistake.  A workshop without appropriate follow up will quickly revert back to the status quo ante, back to the way things were before.

For this reason it is important to have correct follow-up, and to build and maintain a structure of support and follow up for all participants and to contact them individually as soon as possible after the gathering so as to help anchor and reinforce the realisations they have internalised.

Also no two Empowered Fundraising workshops are ever the same.  Each is unique and each will uncover slightly different aspects of the issues that are addressed.  It has been said, that the best way to learn something at depth is to teach it to another.  Each person who comes to an Empowered Fundraising workshop is to be encouraged to once a year undertake a retraining and to ensure that one has both a mentor and is a mentor for another.  Mentoring involves that you are :

  • Available. Make yourself available about 15 minutes a week. In that time, you can help with an approach, discuss meeting roles, doing evaluations, and answering questions.
  • Respectful. One of the things that makes a mentor wonderful is how many different people come to be involved in Empowered Fundraising. Be respectful -and learn from- those differences. True respect demands that we treat the other person in a respectful manner, too.
  • Supportive. We support each other, but we also support the project. Be encouraging.
  • A good listener. Often simply listening, without trying to solving a problem, is all the speaker really needs. Hearing the problem out loud can lead to a solution. A good listener is also an active listener. Pick up clues about the person’s concerns by noting posture, tone, breathing, or the amount of time they spend on a subject.
  • Patient. Important things can take time. You cannot hasten the blossoming of a rose, and developmental processes all take time.  This is important.
  • Confident. There is a reason this person asked for you to be their mentor. Reflect that in your demeanour—be self assured and friendly.

An Empowered Fundraising workshop, if you are the presenter, is the best way to learn and impart the skills for oneself.  But if this is the case it is always important to have time for an evaluation and celebration at the end.  In the evaluation get people to share the following.

1/ To what extend did the workshop meet the needs of all participants.  Don’t be afraid of negative criticism, or the fact that people may not have all of their needs met – it gives a chance to be more on target next time.
2/ What unintended outcomes or “Aha” moments did the person discover?  Always in such circumstances there are creative “Eureka” moments when people come to see things in a new way, and understanding these are useful
3/ In what ways could the workshop have been improved if it had to be run again?  Collecting this information will ensure that as you run these workshops each one will be an improvement upon the last.

Celebration is an important part of any project, and the most important part of a celebration is the recognition and acknowledgement of what has been truly achieved.  No project is truly over until it has been properly celebrated, so make sure you leave some time at the end for this to occur.


So there you have it.  If you are interested in persevering with the Empowered Fundraising approach, please contact me and let me know.  I too am still a novice at this system, although I have used it for many projects.  I too am learning all the time, just as you will be once you start.  In life there are many worthwhile projects we allow to become still-borne for lack of money.  With Empowered Fundraising, lack of money can never again be used as a reason for not persevering with any worthwhile endeavour.

It has been stated that Wolfgang von Goethe is supposed to have said “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decisions, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”  Try your own Empowered Fundraising campaign and watch the magic happen.