Strategic Directions – Kalapa Council Update April 2012


Moving forward with the lineage vision and initiating deeper community dialogue

1. Introduction – the strategic decisions we face
2. The Sakyong’s 2020 Vision
3. What has our Shambhala community accomplished since the Sakyong’s retreat?
4. Our current financial challenges
5. How is the Kalapa Council working with the situation?
6. The decisions we face right now
7. Opening up communication with our community

1. Introduction – the strategic decisions we face

The Kalapa Council is faced with strategic decisions about moving forward. We must decide on a course of action within the coming two weeks. The strategic decision is about how to move forward with the Sakyong’s 2020 Vision after our Shambhala Day campaign. It was probably the most successful fund-raiser ever on a Shambhala Day, but since we were trying to raise the entire budget in one day (for the first time in our history), and we didn’t get all the way there, we now face a serious shortfall.

These decisions are important and will affect our entire community. For this reason, we want to share details of our current situation, and open an ongoing dialogue on the Kalapa Council blog about where we are headed and how we are going to make this journey financially sustainable.

2. The Sakyong’s 2020 Vision
The Sakyong was clear about the direction in which he was leading us when he came out of his year-long retreat, when we received his Letter of the Morning Sun:

If Shambhala as a vision, a lineage, and a community is to have any real effect on the world, the next ten years are essential. We must now begin to organize, train, and develop ourselves with greater commitment and determination. Therefore, I ask all Shambhalians to see the next ten years as a time to truly challenge ourselves. (For the full text of the letter, please click here.)

His challenge has reverberated throughout Shambhala. We in the Kalapa Council devoted ourselves fully to this objective. We invested heavily in new services to give far more support to our members, centres and groups. We introduced a new training program for leaders and engaged in a major reorganization of our central services and the leadership of the mandala. The idea was to create the best possible container for the teachings and practices the Sakyong wished to introduce to make Shambhala a socially transformative culture of “kindness, generosity and courage.”

3. What has our Shambhala community accomplished since the Sakyong’s retreat?

Celebration at the Shambhala Centre in Santiago, Chile

The Sakyong’s Activity
The Shambhala community has offered the Sakyong an environment in which he could introduce Shambhala and Enlightened Society vows, the Shambhala Sadhana, his forthcoming Treatise on Enlightened Society, and many more teachings on the way. Providing this environment for the unfolding and expression of these unique lineage teachings is integral to accomplishing the transformative vision of the Sakyongs.

A major outreach effort is connected with the Sakyong’s new book Running with the Mind of Meditation. More than 200 runners and Meditation Instructors are studying and practicing the running meditation instruction to assist newcomers interested in this approach. Many running Meditation Instructors are preparing to lead Running with the Mind of Meditation programs for running clubs and sports centres.

Last year we saw the public impact we could have with the Being Brave retreat in Halifax. This continued with the standing-room only event in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Now we are witnessing the crescendo of high-profile media attention being devoted to the Sakyong’s latest book.

Investment in leadership and services
The central services of the mandala have been considerably strengthened. We now have an Executive Director to lead our central services. We have been able to fund the Kalapa Acharya so that he can work full time on curriculum development, teacher training and the Shambhala path of societal transformation. We now have a Director of Centre and Group Support, to support our centres and groups during this period of intense change and growth. This investment in people is all aimed at providing far better and more responsive assistance and advice to our volunteers and members who fly the flag of Shambhala in their towns, cities and neighbourhoods!

We have invested in new communications technology. The new Shambhala News website, http://shambhalanews.com , just launched, is specifically designed for new visitors from the public searching for an introduction to Shambhala.

A growing mandala
The latest statistics show a ten percent overall increase in Shambhala Centre/Group membership over the last year. We believe this is due to the increased support we have been able to offer to the Sakyong and to our centres, the focus and dedication of our teachers, leaders and volunteers, and the new curriculum. Some centres report as much as 25% growth locally!

4. Our current financial challenges

In the midst of this good news, we face an immediate and significant financial challenge. This year, in addition to the money we collect from regular donations to the centre of the mandala, centre transfers and program revenue, we attempted to fundraise an additional one million dollars to fund our central service for 2012.

This funding would provide support to the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo, fund all the central services to our members, centres and groups, and new services and investments for further growth.

In an effort to respond to the many requests we have had for a more streamlined approach to fund-raising, we decided to put all our efforts into one single Shambhala Day campaign. Thanks to the generosity of just over 1,600 of our members, we received more than $300,000 (one of the highest totals on a Shambhala Day ever). But since we were aiming to raise $1,080,000, that left us with a shortfall of $780,000.

We have enough funds to last until the middle or end of May. After that, we will be unable to meet our monthly expenses unless we take other immediate measures.

5. How is the Kalapa Council working with this situation?

Abundance not scarcity

The Kalapa Council’s determination to move forward arose because of our certainty in the lineage vision and our willingness to invest heavily in services. The current money crunch has not occurred because of people’s lack of appreciation for the lineage vision or mistrust of the leadership. It is simply the result of not being able to generate in one single campaign the level of resources that previously we would raise over the whole year.

A strategic, rather than palliative, opportunity
We all feel that this current funding crunch also highlights the value of looking for the strategic, transformative possibilities – so that we come out of this with a stronger situation going forward. We feel we should be willing to envision the future and take the strategic steps now that will get us there.

Interdependence
We need to actively cultivate a new understanding in Shambhala as a whole – that we are “all in this together”. This will involve engaging with our local leaders and members in a different way. We need to see if there is a way we can work together with everyone to find a new way forward, not just financially, but as a growing global community with shared values, shared interests and shared commitments. This is one of the reasons for the new Unified Giving Model. When people join their local centre, they will realize that they are part of a vast Shambhala world that welcomes and supports them.

New Model of Financial Sustainability
We need a new model. We are actively exploring possibilities to enable us to diversify and stabilize the way we fund ourselves. In the Feeling the Heat of the Sun initiative, which began in the November 2011, we have been consulting with a diverse group of Shambhala members who have a lot of experience in finance, community development and the entrepreneurial world, to invite suggestions on how we can maximize our strengths in ways that will generate additional streams of revenue. We are actively exploring many interesting insights, tactics and strategies that have been shared in this initiative, as well as seeking outside experts who can help us re-structure our mandala so that it is better able to support our vision. We are open to all news ideas and willing to question old patterns that are in need of change!

6. The decisions we face right now

While we explore longer-term strategic opportunities, we are faced with an immediate financial shortfall. We do not have the funding to proceed with our plans. Thus, we face several questions: Until we have the funding to do this, we need to be prudent, but how far back should we pull back? Should we wait until we have all the funding in place again to continue moving forward? Should we admit that it was unrealistic to seek an entire year’s funding in one single campaign, and be willing to go back to the community one or more times to ask everyone to fund our central services?

Immediate funding needs
We want to preserve the existing services we have been able to provide to all centres and groups, particularly as a result of the improvements we have already introduced.
We are therefore seriously considering a further appeal, to take place as soon as possible, to raise a further $300,000. Our aim would be to sustain the services we are currently providing, and create a $25,000 scholarship fund for people who don’t have the resources to attend our summer programs.

7. Opening up communication with our community

While we contemplate these issues in the short space of time we have (two weeks), we have decided to share all this with everyone in Shambhala. If you have suggestions or ideas that you feel could help us grapple with these large issues, we very much welcome them. You can post your comments and suggestions below on our blog.

Here are the main points we are considering and that we invite you to contemplate with us:

• What should we do in the short term? Preserve our existing level of service by fundraising one more times in the next year? Cut back on existing services?

• What are the alternatives that could lead to a new and healthier model of financial sustainability for Shambhala altogether?

Strategic consultations
We are also proposing to open up a series of strategic consultations with local centres and groups and members. This initial message setting out our thinking process is the first step. We will be working on plan for holding discussions with centre leaders, likely involing the Mandala Council (on which all centres have a seat). We are thinking of a larger “strategic planning consultation” to which all centre directors and group coordinators would be invited some time in the autumn. All this would be part of laying the basis for the Fifth Shambhala Congress, provisionally planned to take place at Dechen Chöling in mid-September 2013.

We look forward to hearing from you!
Please post your comments and ideas in the comment box immediately below…

This entry was posted in Community Articles and tagged , by Richard Reoch. Bookmark the permalink.

About Richard Reoch

Richard Reoch was appointed by the Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, as the President of Shambhala in 2002 -- a position he holds to this day. He heads the Government of Shambhala and chairs the highest governing body of the mandala, the Kalapa Council. Prior to his position in Shambhala, he was the global media chief of the human rights organization, Amnesty International, and continues as a trustee of the Rainforest Foundation and Chair of the International Working Group on Sri Lanka, a network of diplomats and major agencies devoted to peace making.

148 thoughts on “Strategic Directions – Kalapa Council Update April 2012

  1. I think that interdependence (in part 5 above) is key. We need to realize that we are all part of a mandala, and that giving money to the centre of the mandala is not giving to a foreign body. I strongly support asking again for further donations (count me in!). Also, going forward I see no problem in asking at regular periods 2-3 times a year.

  2. While I applaud the leadership desire to cut down on fund raising asks and therefore attempt to raise all the funds in one single ask – I believe this very obviously violated a tried and true financial or business datum — “trying new things untried as yet”.

    Of course we want to try new things and expand however such a huge leap as ONE fund raising ask – I believe was destined for trouble It did not have enough lead time for starters and not enough clarity. I for one never did and still don’t really GET what is being asked for.

    What is missing I believe is a clear statement of EXACTLY what is needed annually to maintain the current level of leadership and help and what is needed to intelligently expand.

    Love,
    Christine

    • Hi Christine,

      I am guessing you are not alone in asking the question “What is this money supporting anyway?”

      With that in mind, I want to share this 2012 budget summary:
      http://kalapacouncil.shambhalatimes.org/2012/01/28/2012-budget-for-shambhala-day/

      Also, we are going to put together a website in the coming weeks that highlights all of the individuals that make up these offices, and brief descriptions of what it is they do on a daily basis. Hopefully this will bring more clarity and transparency!

      Best,
      Lodro Rinzler

      Development Officer
      Shambhala

  3. I think all of us understood that the attempt to raise a year’s funding in one day was highly ambitious. It was worth the attempt and did not succeed, but all of us as a mandala want Shambhala International to have to resources needed to ensure continued operations. Therefore, make further appeals to members over the remainder of 2012 in the same style as previous years.

    In addition, make sure emails to the entire mandala express clearly the urgency of the financial situation that we’re in, and how much you need each member to contribute in order to make up the shortfall — and include a donation link. For example, the email I just opened did not identify what the nature of the challenge actually is and instead it asked me to click on a link to the blog. I fear that many members of our community will not click the link because it won’t be clear to them that the strategic decisions have any direct bearing on them, or that there’s any action needed on their part. Even once they click over to this blog post, the actual extent of the problem isn’t identified until point (4), and many won’t read that far down.

    It’s okay and in fact quite necessary to be quite open and direct right from the opening line about what is needed in order to fulfill the Sakyong’s grand vision for our community and keep day-to-day operations afloat. Re-emphasize the opportunity to give on a monthly, recurring basis in order to make it more financially feasible for individual members to give greater gifts. Explore alternative revenue raising possibilities and make sure members are aware of the ones that already exist — for example, I think it’s possible to purchase various practice materials through shambhala.org, but that’s something I stumbled upon by chance — any revenue-generating opportunities that currently exist could be more prominently highlighted on the homepage, and new ones with a short turnaround time can be explored (for example, the NYC Center is currently selling high quality photographic prints).

    Just my two cents that hopefully are of some use. As a generous mandala, I know we can and will rally to keep things going as soon as we’re aware of the extent of the challenges we face. It’s truly a challenge for the “we,” because what happens at the center of the mandala touches each of us directly.

  4. It appears that fundraising needs to continue. Although the amount gathered on Shambhala was good; it was not enough. Perhaps think in terms of at least two fund drives a year if not quarterly. I give monthly and if asked can give one time donations as well. cheers, zaida

  5. Any business that seeks to expand whilst ignoring it’s revenue stream is destined to bankrupt itself.

    I think the fund raising numbers might elicit a measure of humility. The organization is growing but not at a point to exercise certain goals. And I think that’s okay. To push forward with an agenda irrespective of basic financial prudence seems aggressive.

    Warmest Regards,
    Brian

    • My apologies it was not two weeks but 4 to 6 weeks that we have. Moderator could you scrap my comment – and this one

      James Post

  6. Request smaller donations several times a year. There is something scary about one large donation once a year in these unsettled economic times.
    Acknowlege those of us who commit to monthly donations and spcify how much we should increase them to meet goals and then acknowledge when this happens..

  7. I think people need more than an annual appeal to remind them of their heart connection to Shambhala International and to remind them that the organization and its leaders have needs.

    It’s easy to think of Shambhala International as a gigantic, distant entity, instead of as our shared home. Even though my work as a music teacher and author is 100% about spreading Shambhala vision, I feel a renewed heart connection to Shambhala International when I read something, like this blog, that reminds me that Shambhala has needs. Staying in touch with people, whether it is via fundraising efforts or other methods, makes basic, crucial marketing and communication sense. It keeps things fresh and alive and up to date.

    In general, I find that in Shambhala we tend to not focus enough on our own needs – as individuals or as a group. Our practices focus on our inherent goodness and richness. While I understand that vulnerability, which implies needs, is also emphasized in Shambhala teachings, I have had to go outside of Shambhala – to an organization called Heart of Business – to get some essential understanding of how to recognize my needs and to gain the nourishment I need to grow personally and financially.

    I feel that if we can stand confidently and clearly in balancing the value of giving to others with the need to receive ourselves, we will feel and appear more human, to each other and to others, and we will bring in more money. As my Heart of Business teacher has pointed out, when we act like we don’t have needs, we can’t have a relationship of equals with other people. We subtly convey arrogance instead of a basic, common humanness.

    So please keep me posted on what you need.

  8. Thank you for explaining our situation do clearly. I would like to make a donation. Where should I send it?

  9. I think that we should go ahead and fund raise throughout the year. I also think that we should not go into debt. Lets fund raise right away and adjust our services to match what we bring in. Then fund raise again in September, and then at year end if necessary.

    Not everyone has all of their disposable income available at one particular time of the year.

    Fundraising just once was a nice theory, worth testing out.

  10. «Thanks to the generosity of just over 1,600 of our members, we received more than $300,000 (one of the highest totals on a Shambhala Day ever).»

    What is the number of people who give evey year? Are we under that number this year?

    As a first move, and if it is not too complicated technologically, why not appeal to those who haven’t given on Shambhala Day (like myself) instead of asking everyone in the mandala which includes those who have given? Then you could see how could be raised. If that is not enough, then there could be a second appeal to everyone.

    You have to consider that in some local centers, the same thing is happening. The attendance and retention for programs are not as affluent as it used to be. We see that many people come to our center in search of a place to calm down or relax their mind but they are not necessarely inclined to commit themselves to a long-term spiritual path. We have donors who like the vision but don’t want to sit or do the trainings. These people give money when they come (donations) but they don’t become members. We have to change our approach to fundraising with these people and see how we can accomodate them and at the same time be able to offer full-lenght training for those who want it. This is probably not helping you but I wanted to share it because maybe it is not an isolated situation. Thank you .

  11. This is so familiar. It sounds like you set a huge goal and then spent the money before you had it. I don’t understand this. It seems to be all about money and “guidance” from above: edicts to put on our center walls, appointees to positions we don’t need (Decorum, especially) – it feels as though we’ve been here a million times before and yet it feels like we are going off in a direction that is forced and trying harder and harder to be something we’re not. I feel less and less at home in Shambhala.

    • Sorry that you feel this way Deborah. I agree with the sentiment, “you spent the money before you had it.”
      I just want to point out that the Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum is not receiving any funding from Shambhala. Culture and Decorum is a unique and critical element of the Shambhala tradition that needs to be fostered. Interestingly, the appointment of Sangyum Friedman to the Directorship of this Office occurred very organically. Ms. Friedman was inspired in the area of culture and decorum, so she began volunteering her energy in that area. She then became the obvious person to empower in that role. Now the demand for support has exponentially increased and she contributes far more hours on a voluntary basis. It’s not always the case, but this is really an example of earth and sky coming to together in a very natural way.

  12. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thought son this subject. I think it would be reasonable after informing the community of our current financial situation to launch more drives until the response clearly diminishes. However it is equally important to encourage the community to gain some practical knowledge about money issues such as mortgages, borrowing to invest and investments. This initiative should come from the leadership and should not be left to individuals fending for themselves. We have inherited a treasure trove of teachings by the Vidyadhara on the topic of money and we need to apply our prajna to the practical application of these teachings in building wealth. I think that our community is not prepared for the dramatic changes heading our way that have been set in motion by the financial crisis of 2008.
    Cheers
    Harald

  13. I don’t think it was unrealistic to seek an entire year’s funding in one single campaign, but it didn’t happen, so ask again, and soon!

    You may have to cut services but you won’t know until you see how much an appeal NOW will bring in – so find that out quickly.

    It’s not rude to ask – don’t even hesitate, bring it on. You don’t ask, you don’t get.

    • Ask and you shall receive, hopefully. I also think it would be good to have a chart of suggested monthly donations based on income. This would be offered with a VERY CLEAR disclaimer that following the “recommended” donation is NOT a requirement for membership.

  14. The current funding model seems not to have worked for quite a few years, which is not surprising in that fundraising for “overhead” and “management” is well-known to lack the attractive features of fundraising for brick and mortar projects. The easiest manner in which to support managerial overheads is to have each dollar paid into a Shambhala unit, of any description and wherever located geographically, support a share of central office overhead. For example, if ten cents of every euro or dollar paid to a Shambhala unit reimbursed the costs of managerial supervision, we would not be asked to contribute each year to central office management. This “tithe” just makes common sense because without central management of our spiritual property, the particular euro or dollar would not come into our organization. In addition, most churches in the world promote post-mortem giving of a sizable portion of the decedent’s estate to the decedent’s “church”. If all of our core members left ten percent of their estates to Shambhala, we could create an endowment rather than engage in periodic “save our ship” campaigns. If I were to write a novel on this topic, I would call it the “Ten Percent Solution”.

  15. Good morning.
    Thank you for this notice.
    Usually a crisis point is a good thing. It means the situation can move forward.
    Because I don’t know how the financial management provided by the Kalapa Council works, it’s hard to comment, and it’s uncomfortable commenting, because I feel like I’m writing in the dark.
    With that in mind, at the risk of being completely arrogant, and with humble appreciation for the Council’s tremendous efforts, here are some thoughts that come to mind:
    (1) We call ourselves a society, so we need to look seriously at how societies manage their finances as opposed to just how a non-profit organization works. The very first thing that comes to mind is taxation. That word is loaded, but the point is that it works. It works. It works. A small “mandala support fee” on every single program in the mandala not only helps, it reminds everyone that the program is the result of a complex interdependent society, that it`s not just created by local effort. This simple mechanism for generating funding is a no-brainer to me. We can’t keep up this continual image of being in crisis. Who is going to feel good about donating to an organization that is continually expressing financial crisis? On the other hand, we’ll all feel good about donating to an organization that seems fundamentally stable and proposes new expansion.
    (2) Societies have arms of government that set policies for their financial management. Policies are developed and proposed to other arms of government for approval. So the Council’s step of consulting more broadly with people having financial expertise is good, but it may need to be a more permanent type of relationship. And there has to be some commitment to that policy developing agency. There is a huge amount of consultation that happens on the education arm of the mandala, but it seems like maybe not the right structure for consultation on the financial side that supports all the education.
    (3) Regular reporting. Our vision is OUR vision–we are all in this together. In order to manage our own personal finances–or even that of our family, local center, company, or town–we need look at our financial picture regularly throughout the year. Why don’t we have the mechanism of informing all of us in Shambhala regularly about this? Why can’t a regular quarterly financial report go out to all of us? This picture is all of our responsibility. We can’t hide behind the excuse that we don’t like to deal with finances. This is part of our bravery practice as Shambhala warriors.
    (4) Please don’t do a one day fundraising effort. It just sets us all up for disappointment. Our picture is far too complicated to apply a one-size-fits-all fundraising approach.
    (5) On the other hand we need to keep it simple. Everyone is very busy and bombarded with messaging. I love it when the message is, “If everyone gave $__ we could accomplish our goal.” Providing that message again, mid-year is great. It lets me know where we stand and how I can be helpful. For me, it isn’t a negative message that more money is needed. It’s a gesture that contact, exposure, informing, and communication is happening.
    (6) Keep flogging automatic withdrawal. Maybe someone can come up with an effective and catchy message about AW that allows people to see the benefit and relief of using this simple mechanism.

    I sincerely apologize for my ignorance about any already existing efforts on these types of initiatives and offer deep heartfelt gratitude for the endless selfless efforts that I know each of you already make.

    Theresa Barritt

    • The point about taxation is a good one. If every payment, including monthly dues, programs, targeted donations to special causes within the mandala, included a 5-10% tithe to the central mandalic overhead, I suspect this would go a long way to lessening the need for ongoing fundraising. Indeed, special fundraising drives might only be necessary to meet unexpected shortfalls – since budget projections could be more reliable being based on relatively far more dependable income forecasts this way – and new initiatives (funding for which would also feature the tithe).

      Regular reporting also a good suggestion, albeit once a year a detailed, extensive break-down, and quarterly could be a one-page showing the projected needs/income vs. actual and the current amounts needed to meet needs, along with statistics such as number of members, nr new members, nr participating in regular monthly donations, how much, etc. etc. It would not be hard to put together such information in a way that is simple and informative. Engaging intelligence in this way will doubtless boost trust and participation levels.

    • That’s a really thoughtful and well-reasoned response. I offer and enthusiastic second.

  16. I don’t object if you continue to fund raise. The once a year experiment didn’t work so we can give that up and go back to the old way. I did not find the volume of funding solicitations a problem.

    Thank you for involving the community in solving this problem. No one expects you to do this alone.

  17. Thanks for including me in this decision-making process. My feeling is that we don’t need to be too dramatic about a shortfall. In fact a shortfall should be expected when services (spending) is increased and a donation base (income) has not significantly increased. A shortfall in this case is not a bad sign.

    In the future it would be good to increase services through a savings plan….in other words, could we start a fund (through endowments or lump-sum contributions) that generates regular income for services.

    Jambhala practice by the vajra sangha could also help.

    Basically, if we could spend our savings on increased services in the future then while we stretch and grow without creating a shortfall and a negative message to the larger sangha.

    Does this make sense?

    Investment income for regular growth and Jambhala practice are my suggestions.

    Where does the funds for investment income come from? I’d say major donors and personal private asking.

    People can’t say yes if you don’t ask…please keep asking everyone and at the same time ask privately more often for larger sums too.

    Thanks for all your work,
    Love,
    Cecelia

  18. Open up the Mandala to the larger community.
    1) Rent out shambhala center to any reasonable organization (not necessarily only wisdom traditions, etc knitting classes etc.)
    2) My understanding is Red feather lakes is a huge financial drain why not seek a financial partner who could use it for other purposes (ie. Boy scouts etc.)
    3) Encourage and facilitate satellite ‘feeder’ groups where the general public could learn Meditation and be exposed to Shambhala teachings without being ‘sold’ Shambhala per se.
    4) Have community supports groups for Shambhala member who are trying to improve their financial circumstances (either businesses or job/career related ) in a Great Eastern Sun fashion.

    Thank you for your attention
    Wayne Leanza

  19. I heartily agree with Ross Hunter that the thing to do now is ask again. The effort to raise the whole year’s budget on Shambhala Day was a noble aspiration. There is no shame in acknowledging that we did not reach it this time. What would be a shame is to cut back on the Sakyong’s vision or support for the central services that are inpiring and supporting local growth. We simply will have to do as well on two more major days, say on Midsummer’s Day, and again on Harvest of Peace. Please don’t wait to ask, and we will all do as well as we can in response.

  20. Thank you for the information. Is there a place where we can review the budget? That would help to understand the flow of money and how it is being spent. Thank you, Francina

    • Hello! I just posted the budget link above in response to someone else’s comment – if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

      • Dear Lodro,
        It may be worth posting an appropriate link each time someone asks about the budget report or a donation link…it can be a bit daunting to hunt through previous posts to find a link.
        all best,
        jigme

  21. It was a noble attempt to accomplish the year’s fundraising in one go, but I’m not surprised that it fell short. People give at different times for different reasons. Only a small % of Shambhalians are ever actually present on Shambhala Day but are around at other events. Go ahead, ask again!

  22. I sent in a size able donation to my local center last year. I did not get an acknowledgement let alone a thank you. This does not inspire me to give again or give more.

    • I second this. I don’t believe my gifts to Shambhala International have been acknowledged, but I did receive an email asking me to donate twice what I donated last year, which is so far outside what my budget allows that it seemed a shocking request. Nonetheless , I signed on to be a recurring donor because I believe in the mission, but donor cultivation is very important. If there aren’t enough staff to send out thank you letters, it’s something a volunteer development committee can assist with and does not require fundraising experience. Even an emailed thank you is quite meaningful when it comes from a human being, rather than being automated.

      • Yes, even though it is slightly embarrassing to want to be acknowledged for donations any 501(c)(3) organization knows that you can’t say thank you enough ways.

  23. Two questions — the first has to do with the annual budget for Shambhala. I confess that all of the presentations that have been sent to the members have been difficult for me to follow — and since I work with budgets and financial statements on a regular basis this is frustrating to me. Certain expenses appear to pop up again and again in different sections of the budget, and I have never seen a simple, department by department expense budget for the year (or the next three years, which would be even better). Where expenses are divided between departments or categories, some explanation as to why they are treated this way and what the total for these expenses is would be very helpful. I should clarify that I am not speaking about the budgets for the various land centres, but rather the central, overhead budget. Since I’m not sure if this comment will only be seen by the members of the Kalapa Council, I won’t go into further details here but would be glad to communicate directly with the Council about my questions.

    Secondly, I think it would be very helpful to be able to present to members all across the mandala a picture of what the ideal total annual donations would be — to the centre of the mandala and to one’s local centre. If there are 7,000 members worldwide and the centre of the mandala needs $2.5 Million, an average annual donation of $357 is needed. If local centres need an average of $600 per member, that means that on average each member needs to contribute $1,000 per year to Shambhala ($83 per month). For a couple earning $40,000 a year (median household income in the USA was $49,000 last year), that means that we are asking for 5% of their gross income (and that doesn’t include fees for classes and weekend programs) — probably quite a bit more than that in after tax dollars, although of course taxes are reduced by making charitable donations.

    Is this a sustainable model? I am far from convinced that it is.

    • These hard numbers really bring home the point. I am the director of a small non-profit, and while it is tempting to grow programs, unless you can do so with an already established financial base you will run into trouble. The fact of the matter is that most people are pretty pressed for money right now, and 5% of gross is currently beyond lots of folks, especially those in debt, a common stress for most folks today. I myself am putting both my husband and daughter through college and while I would love to be more generous I cannot.

    • I think the funding model needs to find a way to link into actual activity, and not just rely on a fundraiser. I missed donating this year, though i do give monthly, i was feeling bad about that and then my wife who is a marginal shambhalian let me know with disapproval how much of our income i had spent on taking programs, traveling to programs, donating at programs, paying for teacher development, …. not to mention the costs of volunteering several days each month, or receipts donated. I do this with good heart, but there is this thing in Shambhala about not appreciating what is happening, and always saying it is not enough. Of course it is endless, but the earth quality needs to rely on what is happening and and not a dream.

  24. There are lots of ways to fund raise. I volunteer with several community organizations here in the Annapolis Royal area. Just this past weekend, one of those organizations raised close to $10, 000 at an auction….We are a tiny community compared to HRM and it did take a lot of work on the part of many individuals but we did raise a decent amount. What about a “celebrity” dinner at one of the big venues in Halifax? “Celebrities” could be the Sakyong and his family members, Thich Nhat Hahn, Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes or other well-known people in the Buddhist community. It’s one thing to open your wallet…easy for some…another to provide an opportunity for people to actually get involved to help create a pleasant event for others and raise money at the same time…definitely more work but also meaningful, participatory action. Perhaps another ‘asking’ is in order to get us over the crisis but why not be a little more imaginative and ask the fund raising committee to stretch themselves into a new zone.

  25. It’s OK to ask again.
    I also recommend on online gift shop for things like malas, bumper stickers, posters, statuary, clothing, and jewelry. Funds can be generated for the Shambala community and for poor Tibetan and Nepali craft people. Also expand the book sales catalogue to include these items. This may help.

  26. Yep, Ross and Christopher have said it, and I agree. Ask members to meet or better their Shambhala Day donation!

  27. I believe that people will respond by contributing at their local levels now that we have heard about this need. However this need needs to be talked about at the local level as well as national and soon.
    For longer term I believe Shambhala needs to participate in increased social enterprise that would bring in ongoing financial support…possibly having retail gift shop/book store areas in each local center. This could be done fairly easily by members such as myself who have experience in the retail area.
    Many of our members have the financial resources to support such a retail entity and in fact are already purchasing books and Buddhist related merchandise via other venues.
    I would imagine that the Shambhala Mountain Center Gift store could be a model for smaller retail outposts in other centers.

  28. Oh, do please ask again. Ask as many time as is necessary. People may need to be reminded even though they had planned to give. Some people are better able to give now then on that one day, and some people might give again.

  29. There is no doubt that we, speaking as a Chicago member at least, have been energized by the Sakyong’s 2020 Vision. I’m a little frustrated, though, in reading this message because of all the doubts about how to run the organization that it communicates. If a fundraising strategy like a one-time-a-year pledge didn’t work, then this is a tactical problem, as long as you’ve set realistic financial goals. You need to change tactics.

    Yes, it is a serious cash flow problem, but the letter sounds like you’re throwing a Hail Mary pass to the centers. The way it reads to me is: 1) We’ve got the right vision; 2) We’re doing lots of the right things; and 3) Somehow we’re stuck because we don’t have enough money and we don’t know how to raise it.

    As a fundraising professional my concern is this: The broad distribution of this letter means that it will reach many of your donors, including potentially large donors. For all your good intentions of seeking good advice from sangha leadership, this is way to undermine your ability to raise funds.

    I am glad that you are reaching out to centers to learn how to raise funds more effectively. I just think that a widely distributed letter erodes confidence in leadership when it ask questions like:

    What should we do in the short term? Preserve our existing level of service by fundraising one more times in the next year? Cut back on existing services?

    Please consider asking these questions in live consultation with center leadership, when you can share specific details, and take down this webpage before it circulates among people who may be less understanding.

    • Also the message that they are running out of money in two weeks doesn’t inspire confidence in their planning.

  30. I think it would be helpful for Shambhala International to publish or make available online a full financial report. The last one I could find by searching Shambhala.org was published in 2001. In 2004, the financial council issued a report defining what information it wanted from the Shambhala Centers. In that report, it states
    “Reporting. Financial reporting must be timely and accurate and available to the
    community. It must include both standard reports and other reports/ commentary
    designed to help the average person understand.”

    I think it would be useful for a report to contain how all 2011 income has been distributed, what the 2012 budget planned for, including the additional 1,080,000, and what is impacted most by the shortfall. With a 10% increase in membership and a record level of giving on Shamhala Day, clarity as to need should bring in more funds.

  31. I have a great deal of admiration for the Sherpa community here in New York City. They are only about 500 families, according to my estimate, and all of them recent immigrants, but they have just bought a 4.5 million dollar building in the city to serve as community center. Granted, they are used to carrying heavy loads, but as I see it that is a matter of mindset. What could we accomplish, were we to become Sherpas like them?

  32. While attempting to raise the entire years funding in one day was a noble effort it was apparently too ambitious, simply because it didn’t work. In light of that it is imperative that another fundraising effort is undertaken immediately. It would also be a good idea to plan additional fundraising on Midsummers Day & Harvest of Peace.
    It may also be prudent to look at areas where we can reduce expenses. Are there ways we can maintain services by cutting out excess spending? Are there ways that our current/past methods of offering services go beyond our means? Can we offer the same level of services in a slightly more frugal manner? Where can we afford to reduce expenses without impacting essential services? Where can we engage in additional revenue creation? Where can we increase traffic in a way that would affect revenue? What communities or groups can we reach out to who may be interested in services we could provide to them for a reasonable fee? What corporations might be interested in donating to Shambhala that we have not yet approached? These and more are the questions we need to ask ourselves honestly and creatively.

    What we have been doing to date tends to leave us struggling financially. There is more than one answer … fundraising. We can look at marketing ourselves in additional way, whether that be conflict resolution services to the general public and corporations, workshops for mental health professionals and more.

    It may also be prudent to look at current barriers that may exist for students to train to become teachers, there by increasing the numbers of people who can lead revenue increasing workshops and programs.

    When Shambhala teachers are paid for leading programs and workshops how much of their earnings go back to Shambhala Central? As a representative of the Shambhala lineage and having been trained by the Shambhala lineage it would seem reasonable that a percentage of those earnings go back to Shambhala.

    I hope some of these musings are helpful, without actually knowing more of the ins and outs of how we currently engage in the activities I’ve mentioned I can’t be sure how relevant my feedback is. However I’m sure there are things we can do outside of asking members for more donations. Quite likely we can do both. Membership funding and more creative revenue generation in the general public as well as some frugality.

  33. Dear Kalapa Council, The web says we have 8,000 members in 47 countries. If we have 8,000 membership ask each member to commit to just $10.00 a month to be paid monthly via bank account withdrawal or check. If members can pay more ask that they commit to what they can afford. At just $10.00 a month that is 80,000 a month or 960,000 a year. Give the options of paying monthly, quarterly or per year. Since many can afford more the incoming funds should be much more. For the long-term, invest some of the funds so there are returns available for future expenses and safety net. Respectfully yours.

  34. Asking once for the full funding is (was) a good idea.
    Our mandala is in a growing stage of discovering greater generosity….I agree with the suggestion of others to ask again and soon.
    Strongly support not cutting back services. Cutting back seems to be an expression of doubt. It feels more appropriate to rouse confidence and inspire generosity.
    From a fund raising point of view, is it possible to identify current members from whom you have not received a donation to the annual campaign – and to then request their participation? This will help broaden the base of generosity and would support ongoing generosity from those who have already contributed.

  35. I appreciate the improved communication and professionalism of Shambhala International. It has really helped me in my job as center director.

    I’m concerned about the mixed message of our fundraising: on the one hand, it’s more than we’ve ever raised before on Shambhala day; on the other hand it’s not nearly enough. How was the original fundraising goal arrived at? It doesn’t seem that it was based on realistic expectations.

    Where do the proceeds from the Sakyong’s books go? To support the Sakyong and the Sakyong Wangmo? How does this income fit in with the fundraising goal?

    – Elizabeth Brownrigg, Director, Durham North Carolina Shambhala Center

  36. I bow to all those who invest so much effort in this process of our mutual growth and appreciate so much all you do for our community. I leave the discussion of ways and means to those more informed than I, although I appreciate several of the ideas above including, perhaps particularly, the principle of “taxation” as described by Theresa. I do ask, however, that you please request funds again, however it is that you do it. “A culture of kindness, generosity and courage”… is so unspeakably important at this time in our collective history in both our Shambhalian and in our planetary communities: please do not cut back on services at this time when our momentum needs to continue to build in order to benefit beings. Please allow us again the opportunity to be generous, brave and kind.

    With much love,
    Adela.

  37. I agree that asking one more time doesn’t hurt and it is necessary. I don’t want to see us go into debt and I don’t want to see us pull back on our services.
    The Shambhala community is thriving and growing like never before and with it comes growing pains. Like our Shambhala Vision, our Financial Vision should be clear about who we are and where we are going and the abundance that is already in our community that we can tap. I have always felt that there are many sources of wealth that we are not connecting with somehow.
    I would like to offer some help but I don’t know the details of the finances in order to make any suggestions. I have experience in being on the Board of Directors for financial strategies in both the non-profit and for profit sector. Let me know if I can be of service.
    Deep Bows to All
    Fern

  38. Spread the fundraising out over other days of celebration . I give $20 a month to my centre and an additional monthly $20 to Dorje Denma Ling and know how this works for both ; whereas others have indicated , there is a lack of clarity to the larger fundraising which does not ‘sell’ in these lean times . Shambhala Intl needs to talk and better still visit the centres on this issue , thus making a personal and heart connection . We have had one visit , Richard Reoch, in ten years and are an hour’s drive from Halifax !

  39. A recent Shambhala Times article talked about the new digs at SMC with great views and space worthy of royalty. What? There’s a financial crisis? I see a marketing blitz in conjunction with the release of Running with the Mind of Meditation and not a single word about where the book profits will go (despite Shambhala resources participating in the marketing). This doesn’t do much for credibility, unless of course nobody questions it. How about some transparency?

  40. To raise all the money in one campaign was clearly not realistic (since it did not work). Therefore, you need to have additional campaigns to raise the money until you get the money you need. If you cannot raise all the money, then you cut back. I am not in favor of cutting back unless it is really necessary. So, try to raise the money first.
    Cheers, Bob Salskov

  41. For Shambhala members who want to see yearly financial reports, I found them here:

    http://www.shambhala.org/members/governancefinance.php

    You’ll have to sign in with your username and password.

    To the governing bodies: it would be a good idea to mail these reports to all members when the reports are issued. I’m the bookkeeper of a very small volunteer group that subsists on donations. Every month we mail all our members the group’s financial summary. Even if they don’t read it, when we ask them for money, the intention is that they can find out what we’re spending it on.

    Don’t rely on people finding this information for themselves. You can see that they haven’t been able to, from the comments above. Send it out, regularly.

    Thank you.

  42. thanks for trying only one fundraiser.
    but it did not work, so please continue to ask, may be 4X a year.
    if possible, do not cut back on services, it’s needed.
    keep up the good work.
    ordinary magic….
    Veit

  43. Please show us – your dues-paying members – the past three years’ financial statements along with the line-item budget for 2012 so that we may fully understand where the additional $ in needed and how it will be used.

    Please also include details of projected profits from the Sakyong’s latest book and how these will be used within Shambhala.

  44. I agree with Leah. Is there a Shambhala on-line gift shop. I’d love to purchase greeting cards, fabric, etc. that would contribute to our organization rather than some other Buddhist organization or (as for greeting cards), my local drug store. The items that could be sold could be extremely numerous. Jewelry, bumper stickers, statues, singing bowls, books, scrolls, tankas, fountains, malas, posters, greeting cards, CD’s, DVD’s, art, fabric, etc. I’m sure there are sources of acquiring these items at a low cost or free as well. I am one member that would be more than happy to make a few malas (I do bead work at times) and donate them to the “Shambhala Store”. I’m certain other members out there have other talents they may like to share by donating their works to the store. It’s another way I could give, since I can’t often give much financially.
    Thank you for the opportunity to offer my input. P.S. Ask more than once a year. Not everyone attends Shambhala Day festivities. Also, not everyone has liquid assets at one time of the year…… Thank you, Sandy – Davis, California

  45. I agree with Leah. Is there a Shambhala on-line gift shop. I’d love to purchase greeting cards, fabric, etc. that would contribute to our organization rather than some other Buddhist organization or (as for greeting cards), my local drug store. The items that could be sold could be extremely numerous. Jewelry, bumper stickers, statues, singing bowls, books, scrolls, tankas, fountains, malas, posters, greeting cards, CD’s, DVD’s, art, fabric, etc. I’m sure there are sources of acquiring these items at a low cost or free as well. I am one member that would be more than happy to make a few malas (I do bead work at times) and donate them to the “Shambhala Store”. I’m certain other members out there have other talents they may like to share by donating their works to the store. It’s another way I could give, since I can’t often give much financially.
    Thank you for the opportunity to offer my input. P.S. Ask more than once a year. Not everyone attends Shambhala Day festivities. Also, not everyone has liquid assets at one time of the year…… Thank you, Sandy – Davis, California

  46. A few thoughts:

    1. It seems important to find out more about what is going on with the many people who do not give at all to SI (the video shown on Shambhala Day seemed to indicate that only a small percentage of Shambhalians give to SI), rather than getting the same 1600 people to give more.

    2. When Halifax Shambhala Center needed to increase its donation income, volunteers called each member of the center and talked with them personally. I wonder if this approach would work at an SI level. Even if someone does not want to give a donation, something could be learned from the conversation. ***I see this as being different from telemarketing because it would be volunteers, perhaps in the local community, who were interested in genuine dialogue and not reading from a script.

    3. Just wanted to mention that I prefer getting emails asking “everyone to give $108 (or whatever amount)” than a targeted email saying “last year you gave x total and we’d like you to do that or more than that this year” (as was done for this year’s campaign). I still gave money, but I felt singled out in a weird way, like I was being given a bill, whereas the former approach had more of a tone of pitching in for a group effort.

    4. Thank you to the other posters here and to the Kalapa Council. Personally, I am a captive audience and will keep giving to SI as long as I live no matter what kind of campaign you have.

  47. I agree that the preservation of the existing levels of service is important, and that we should go forward with fundraising one or more times in the next year to finance those services.

    In the longer term, rather than ‘fundraising’, perhaps we could find a different mechanism, word, or phrase to describe how our community will support the center of the mandala. Somehow change the feel, flavor, tone of the financial mechanism so that it is reflective of the generous spirit arising from gratitude, love, and devotion we have for our community and for the Sakyong. This idea is not fully formed in my mind, but I thought I’d put it out there……

  48. What happened and how? What are you doing so it doesn’t happen again? We work hard locally to plan budgets that are in synch with realistic revenue projections. Is there a different organizational culture at Shambhala International? When you ask us, “What should we do?” it is very disconcerting. I have great respect for our leadership, but this letter doesn’t seem to mirror that back.

  49. It is extremely tiring to have every missive from Shambhala to be about fundraising. This is not the state with other sanghas, in fact there are hardly ever any fundraising requests, so when they arrive, one is happy to donate money. There is a sense of tendril and that needs will be met, and it seems to work. Maybe we are too attached to materialism in Shambhala

  50. As a new member I think there needs to be a lot more communication. I can’t really say that I understand exactly what international does. I give to my local center because I have a relationship with them both spiritually and actively.
    However, yes ask again with this in mind. I don’t think it’s realistic to ask people to give a large amount in one shot. Monthly withdrawals are much more feasible.
    Also think its a good idea to just add a percentage to local activities that gets passed up, as an admin or overhead fee.
    Thanks for all your efforts and the vision is true.

  51. I’m heartbroken. Yet another financial crisis in Shambhala… I wonder, do we really need this heavy, fat administration structure to propagate basic goodness? Am I alone in seeing that this oversized administration structure is NOT sustainable?? There are other sanghas (smaller then ours, by the way) out there doing a much better job in administering their finances. Could we be humble enough to learn from them???
    And yes, I would be willing to donate more and again, however not to put out fires once more. I would be willing to donate to start a Shambhala investment fund. If well managed,in time this investment could bring financial stability to Shambhala and spare our future warriors from the pain I’m now feeling.
    May wisdom dawn for all of us

    • I chose to respond to this post rather than start a new one because of all the comments I’ve read on this blog, Lely’s comes closest to my own feelings.

      Have we forgotten our history? Have we forgotten that Siddhatta Gotama left his father’s palace to find the truth of suffering? That he gave up his throne, picked up a begging bowl, and began to teach that truth to anyone who would listen? Sakyamuni did not put his crown back on after waking up beneath the pipal tree and issue an edict that everyone in his kingdom should contribute more money to fund his noble cause, while he gave elaborate banquets, traveled in lavish style, and held court with only an elite few of his followers.

      I’m sure this will be considered a heretic position, but I must voice it out of deep respect for the three jewels, as I understand them. Perhaps our community can literally no longer afford the pleasant anachronism of a “royal family” — a king and queen of a mythical kingdom. One of the reasons Tibet has come to its current karmic condition is the feudal theocratic structure it adopted, a bottom-up support structure for an increasingly ineffective and corrupt oligarchic priesthood.

      While I think the Sakyong’s vision is benign — even laudable — I would find it more convincing if the royal court and entourage, expensive banquets, elaborate security, multiple residences, etc. were supported only by his published work and teaching fees. Better yet, I would respect him more if he were to follow in the footsteps of Siddhatta Gottama.

      I truly love our sangha. We all contribute a lot of time, effort, energy, and money to making the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche available to people — regardless of their ability to pay. What our community has to offer is a gentle approach to mindfulness and compassionate action. We can all continue to do that without supporting a top-heavy monarchical structure. I believe we have to.

      If we want the Shambhala vision to survive, we will have to bring it into the 21st century and the Age of Enlightenment. Most of all, we will have to rededicate ourselves to the principles on which it is based. Otherwise, we will go the route of Scientology. I fear we are already on that path.

      With great respect and gratitude.

      • I have to say I agree with most of your comments, Tom. While I don’t think we all need to live simply, I do believe beauty and elegance can be cultivated without excess.

        • At all times, the fringe will look to the center for leadership and examples to follow. In times of austerity, good leadership is the first to tighten its collective belt and set the example.

          I’ve financially supported my local center, SMC, the Archives, Nalanda Translation Committee and other Shambhala departments for many years, all without ever setting a foot in those locations. I give to those spaces because of the deep and abiding connection they provide and foster between us and the living teachings.

          I have not supported SI because it seems very remote and I have no sense of connection to what it does besides providing jobs for management.

          My one practical suggestion for fund raising is that donations be tied to a department, a function or a purpose. This provides the framework by which a connection can be made between the donor and donee, and may help to eliminate the sense of distance between center and fringe.

  52. A comparison of the 2012 Shambhala International Budget with 2011 Actual shows the following:

    The overall revenue budgeted for 2012 is $1,964,456, which is $384,683 (24%) higher than Shambhala International received in 2011.

    The $1,080,000 target for Shambhala Day is $413,589 (62%) higher than one-time donations received in 2011.

    The overall expense budgeted for 2012 is $2,008,169, which is $305,109 (18%) higher than Shambhala International spent in 2011 and produces a deficit of $43,713. This 2012 deficit is on top of a 2011 deficit of $123,287.

    The 2011 financial statement shows a negative cash position of $424,239.

    From reviewing these figures, it is difficult for me to see evidence of reasonable financial planning. No business or nonprofit organization can count on a 24% growth in revenue from one year to the next or sustain an 18% growth in expenses, and it doesn’t appear that Shambhala International has financial reserves to cover an investment in deficit spending. It is clear that more fundraising needs to occur, if only to bring in the same amount of revenue we did last year, and also that spending needs to be reduced.

    More deeply, we need to consider how much infrastructure the Shambhala members throughout the mandala can support for their local centers, for International, and for Practice Centers. I don’t know how many total members we have, but I’m guessing it is around 14,000. There are local churches larger than that, so the amount of infrastructure we are attempting to support per person seems larger than is the case another religious organizations. Finally, it would be important to look at the range of contributions per person. Are there many who contribute little or nothing? Are there a relative few who contribute a lot? It may be that we do not have a lot of financial wealth among our members. On the other hand, it may be that many of our members don’t see a greater responsibility to contribute relative to their means. I wouldn’t venture to say whether our members are under-contributing or contributing reasonably. The communications from Shambhala International indicate the members can and should contribute substantially more, so I think it’s important to verify whether or not they can.

    Supposing Shambhala members are contributing as much as they can to their local centers, to International, and to practice centers – is there a way to get to the Sakyong’s vision of 2020 with the funds that we have? Do we need to start looking more in that direction?

  53. Thanks a lot for this information. I don’t know if I have any “intelligent” advice to give about fund raising but I would like to share some thoughts that came to me while reading your presentation.

    I was pleased to read about all what we have done and about the fact that many centers are going pretty well with a significant increase of people attending our classes and activities. I rejoice for that.

    Sadly this is not the situation in my center. I would say that we are going through a kind of vision and organisational crisis which should bring interesting and fruitful questioning and reorientation on a long term basis. However for the moment the word that comes to my mind to describe the situation here is confusion and a sense of overhwelmed at different levels. Many here feel that there is too much going on, very quickly and at diffferent levels. Things are moving constantly, there are lots of demands and we can hardly adjust and follow. The center of the mandala seems very far away and to be honest, little attention is paid to the financial requests… There is a sense that before giving money to the International we should take care of our local needs. People can understand theoretically that we need an executive director at the International but they strongly feel in their guts that we need one locally. So, if there is a financial effort to be made they will be more inclined to give locally…

    Confusion and resistance are quite normal in any process of change. All units or people can’t follow at the same rythm or pace. I think it is important to take this situation into account in fund raising. Maybe there are other centers where people feel the same way than people here feel. If it’s the case, all appeals to support Shambhala International will be perceived as just another “demand” …on top of festivals, transmissions, curriculum changes, special meetings, trainings etc… + ongoing local activities …with no local permanent human resources to support outreach and development.

    I’ve heard here people saying that the center of the mandala is a little “disconnected” ….. One senior teacher even said she felt that there was a lost of contact with the earth.

    I don’t have much to contribute except sharing the feelings I perceive around me. I hope they are not widely spread in the mandala but maybe it is part of the problem and it should be acknowledged if we want to move forward.

    I hope this is not perceived as negative but I’m afraid that any fund campaing (annual , bi annual or whatever) from top down will ever be successful at this moment. Maybe it’s time for Mr Reoch or Carolyn Mandeller to make another tour of our centers. Maybe somebody should listen to how all centers feel and move on (or not) a little more than one year after the poignant and inspiring call of our Sakyong. If people felt heard maybe it would be easier for them to feel part of something and they might be more willing to stretch a little further….

    This is just an idea….

    With gratitude and great confidence – Shastri Lodrö Palmo

    • Though our centre is doing very well, the comment from Shastri Palmo resonates. Without the incredible effort of one or two individuals we would really be struggling to keep up. As the centre of the Mandela creates more full time energy – they create more time needs on local centres. Volunteer Burnout is an endless problem, and the endless financial emergencies from the centre real do not help.

      Though i do believe there are ways to raise money, there is also a correlation between our ability to fund positions at the Centre, vs funding say a Director position at our Local centre. ( what creates the most benefit? )

      I think a Humble view of “total members” also needs a look at. I would say that off the top 20% of our membership will not have a financial relationship with the Centre.

      I think a business model needs to have some kind of direct relationship to real activity and real people. This means people participating in programs, and events. I would be ok with and increase in fees for local programs ( though note we seem be be giving less and less Director fees.
      I would also encourage some of the big fundraising appeals that happen at Major programs be given to the Centre. This is when people are most aware of the Big picture.

      Is it heretical to suggest that Shambhala Day be held on a Saturday.

      I think you should reflect on why you went to a once a year fundraiser. I felt it was a good decision.

      Shambhala is precious to me. But too often i feel leadership at all levels takes their “terms’ of empowerment too personally, looses the ground of Sanity, and thinks speed and quantity is what confirms their activity.

      Perhaps we could also measure breaths on the meditation cushion, the number of times people thank each other, and keep track of the number of times communication is lost, because someone always has too much activity on their mind to listen.

  54. In regards to “investment in leadership services” out here in the medium and smaller centers we are seeing an ongoing dis-empowerment, of local people and no teacher training of any consequence at all.
    with sadness
    John Darby

  55. My deepest appreciation to those of you who serve us and the world at the center of our mandala.

    I’ve read each post and see several requests for more clarification about where exactly donations go, as well as confusion about what exactly we are being asked to support. I would like to weigh in on that by asking for a detailed financial report on a quarterly or twice-yearly basis. For instance, I read the 2012 budget and saw that the Halifax Kalapa Court is included, but wonder where the Boulder Court fits into the budget. I would like to see actual dollar amounts allocated to specific positions, full time and part time. Also, it would be good to know where the income from The Sakyong’s book sales gets allocated, or his author fees?

    Apart from feeling that transparency in reporting income and expenses could be even more so, ask us again right away. A suggested amount would give us all an idea of how the burden could be shared.

    I wholeheartedly support the increased services and personnel we’ve budgeted for. It feels just to support those who want to dedicate themselves to the center of the mandala, and to support them appropriately. I bow in anjali to all of you. May Goodness be all victorious.

  56. As a recent member of the Denver Shambhala Center, I am not sure I fully understand the issue. If the question is how do we support both the local center we belong to as well as the broader organization of Shambahla, then it would be helpful to me to be able to plan, on going, for the needs of the whole organization. Therefore, a monthly contribution of, say, $80 – with $50 to the Denver center and $30 for the national / international needs. A monthly commitment is much easier for me to plan for rather than “fundraisers” during the year.

    Thanks to all of you for your hard work on these, and many other, issues.

    Gail

    • Gail on April 18, 2012 at 4:11 am said:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      As a recent member of the Denver Shambhala Center, I am not sure I fully understand the issue. If the question is how do we support both the local center we belong to as well as the broader organization of Shambahla, then it would be helpful to me to be able to plan, on going, for the needs of the whole organization. Therefore, a monthly contribution of, say, $80 – with $50 to the Denver center and $30 for the national / international needs. A monthly commitment is much easier for me to plan for rather than “fundraisers” during the year.

      Thanks to all of you for your hard work on these, and many other, issues.

      Gail

  57. 1) NEVER have a meeting without at least 5 people under the age of 40 and at least 2 of them have to be NON-Shambhala initiates.

    2) Stop being so self focused and Rule Your World by working for others, not creating a new committee. Sponsor someone to run for office in your town.

    3) If you get the chance to sit it out or dance, please choose dancing. In ALL circumstances.

    Sincerely,

    Deborah Bright, City Commissioner
    City of Drumright, Oklahoma

  58. Good morning,

    I agree with most everything that’s already been shared, particularly someone’s comment about the Heart of Business organization and recognizing that we have internal needs. We do have needs, and we need to be patient. 2020 vision will arise, and while it is urgent we still need to take care of the ground level. Here at our center we feel the urgency for cultivating our Kasung squad because it currently makes up about 1/8 of our center’s population of members, and our Kenchung pointed out that Kasung has not been visible here for several years, and so, we need to be patient and just be visible for now and they will come.

    I would also like to say that it was helpful for me to here a quote from the Sakyong at a recent fundraiser about how it is “more important that lots of people give some, rather than some people giving lots.” I was intimidated or embarrassed that I could not give what was asked for on Shambhala Day, and so I didn’t end up donating at all. I will give some to any fundraisers.

    I encourage more fundraisers and more directness about what the funds are for. Thanks for opening up the conversation!

    Kelly Lehmann

  59. My comments are probably repetitive… must admit I didn’t have the patience to read all the replies.

    Anyway, I don’t think it quite registered with me that there would only be 1 fund raising call this year. I know it was said, but somehow it came late in the game and got all mixed together with the notion of “one unified campaign”… but I fully expect that fund raising would come more than once per year. As others have said, one never knows what lies ahead with one’s personal finances, and so… we wait and see.

    I typically try to give what is suggested, and then measure whether I can against that. So I gave what was suggested on Shambhala Day, but really didn’t expect that would be the end of it.

    I think unified fund raising is great… it gets to be a bit much when every part of our mandala is asking for money (usually at the same times), and so it is a relief to eliminate being approached from all sides. (Makes it difficult to plan the donations, and wasteful to send out redundant marketing campaigns.)

    But I fully expect that fund raising would happen more than once per year. That way I can plan my finances better.

  60. Can only comment briefly now, more later.

    #1 is don’t go into debt.
    #2 transparency; yes I think it really matters. It may be necessary to really hone the materials so it’s clear yet not oversimplified.
    #3 yes ask some more times; Veit said 4/year, that seems OK.
    #4 try to find a way for people to inspire each other financially. Obviously you don’t want to shame people. But I’ve felt the “group thing” strongly in live Shambhala fundraisers I’ve been to, and it inspires people to open up. One idea that occurred to me is reporting contributions by region (maybe vs. last year?), so people get a sense how their overall “home” is contributing. There ought to be a way to use the Shambhala Network to do that.

    Lastly I appreciate this request for discussion. I understand those who are disconcerted by it but for me I’d rather hear it straight. If it were easy to end the dark age it wouldn’t be the dark age.

  61. Consulting with the Shambhala Centers is the best idea of the ones mentioned in this blog post – the Centers are where people make a connection and where people are supported on an on-going basis. The “franchise model” we discussed a few years ago, where funds transfer from Centers to Central, makes sense for stable funding- could this be expanded? Unfortunately this situation does feel like deja vu to me, and also seems predictable, – last year when the Kalapa Council decided to move forward with expanded activity, trusting that funds would be magically magnetized, I thought it likely that we would once again run out of operating funds. Is there something we can put in place that will remind us not to keep going down this path?

  62. I have given a great deal of thought to the ongoing financial challenges our community has faced during the nearly twenty years since I first came to Shambhala. I have also studied within other lineages that follow an approach to generosity that is more explicitly grounded in the traditional Buddhist teachings and practices as they have been employed more or less unchanged since the time of the Buddha, not just in Tibet but in every culture where Buddhadharma has actually taken root and flourished. I have also observed these practices in India firsthand at Tibetan monasteries and dharma centers in refugee communities. For a variety of reasons, our funding model and the way we conceive of and practice generosity bears little resemblance to these practices that have been inseparable from the Buddhadharma since its birth 2500 years ago. I have come to feel that this is the root cause of our persistent poverty, yes… poverty, both in mentality and in actuality.

    There are two aspects to this. One is the central and indispensable place that generosity has in the life of a dharmic person. The teachings and practices on generosity must be centrally emphasized within our community until they thoroughly permeate our culture. It is not that people are not generous or do not aspire to be so. But by and large, aside from knowing that it is one of the paramitas, most people simply do not know very much of the actual teachings about generosity and aspiration as they relate to accumulation and dedication of merit.

    Second, on an organizational level our policies do not act as an antidote to this situation. Unfortunately, to a significant degree I believe they exacerbate it. This is not intended as a criticism per se, simply an observation and statement of a fairly evident truth. I think this is also for the same reasons mentioned above, as a whole we simply do not have very much knowledge of the powerful view and practice of generosity that has been carried through time by the lineage. How could we be expected to develop and implement policies that reflect and cultivate profound generosity when our primary relationship to green energy is defined by the construct of modern finance.

    Our leaders are exemplars of human decency, our citizens are noble and good. But we are trying to make the impossible possible by nurturing a tiny sprout of potential that is the Shambhala vision of basic goodness in the face of a pervasive and oppressive onslaught of materialism that is sweeping the globe. Our task has never been more urgent, our situation has never been more precarious. Outer conditions are not likely to get easier anytime soon.

    If we seek to discover and manifest it, a culture that is truly permeated by generosity is within our reach. In fact I believe we are very close to it. The funding model adopted by such a culture will look very different from what is currently in place. This is true at level of our sangha and in every type of activity. The only way to truly cure our financial anemia is to move boldly and with integrity toward such a culture. Until we do, we will be endlessly plaqued by poverty.

    I have written several articles for the Shambhala Times on this topic in order to get folks throughout the community thinking more deeply about this. In my own community in Baltimore, MD we have begun discussions to build concensus on taking radical steps to implement policies and practices such as those referred to above. Though powerful, our first steps are likely to be modest. It is my wish that this will spread throughout our community and if there is anything I can do to be of further service I am happy to do so.

    In the long run this the only answer to the questions posed. In the short term, we should absolutely not scale back our activity! We should always seek to be frugal. Waste and decadence are commonplace in this dark age. If there is a need for further support and participation from the citizenry, you MUST ask them to do so. Only if the trumpet is sounded can the warriors rally to protect the teachings. These teachings will not remain in the world if we do not recognize their value.

  63. I hope this isn’t too much of a tangent, but when my credit card that I use to automatically withdraw monthly to SI was expiring earlier this year, I was asked to email my new card information. There was no mechanism for me to just log in and make the change securely. Given the lack of security involved in such an action, I was very uncomfortable doing that. If SI makes it uncomfortable (or even inconvenient) to give, especially in a manner that supports the mandala best (automatic monthly withdrawal), then I think SI will have trouble sustaining growth.

  64. I believe in slow and steady progress. Let the local centers ask for an increase in monthly dues and see what happens. Then how much money coming in will be the amount available to work with, just as this special fund raiser’s sum, is the amount that can be raised with such a scheme.

  65. It’s Shambhala’s karma going way back to the beginning to have financial trouble.
    This is something the sanga will always be dealing with, it’s part of us, so we’re going to have to work harder than other groups for even a little success. I appreciated the ask once test, which was done because the sanga strongly voiced this desire. Financial sustainability is important, and the vision can be created while cutbacks are made at the same time, not easily but it can be done. I would guess that donations are made from basically the same pool of people all the time, and we need another source of income. We can’t keep trading money around amongst ourselves like furniture at a Shambhala garage sale. We need a product, like providing leadership/stress managment training for businesses.

  66. actually on second thought, lets just build a gold statue on the edge of Kalapa valley, at an appropriate location and hope for the best.

  67. This money crisis in Shambhala is venerable. With an exciting effort last year we didnt arrive at sufficient income to pay for all elements of the elaborate path we follow, and the infrastructure (ie. the people) needed to maintain it — much less expand it to others. So once again we now have a plea for more “generosity” .
    We are not alone in this dilemma. Almost all non-profits angst over it.
    “Almost everyone has an unresolved problem with money, just as they have an unresolved problem with life”, said Chogyam Trungpa. Once again, he put things into a wise context.

    It means we can improve our aging approach to financial stability! It means we’ll always have some uncertainty about money for all our activities, and for paying the people who must organize them. It means our vision may always tend to exceed our means. Thank goodness.

    But, honestly! Isnt it time to get past our dependence on the emotional- devotional pleas for “generosity” whenever core activities are threatened. Special, unique appeals will always occur (e.g. Stupa, Sakyong Retreat, Scholarship fund, etc). But to sort out all these dharmas, lets focus on stabilizing support for our core activites. First, by stopping the crisis appeals for core. Its an ineffective, confusing (see other posts before this one) approach. There are better ways.

    The scheme I’ll propose to the Kalapa Council has been tried by Shambhala for decades, but never wholeheartedly. It has collapsed and been reborn for years. To work properly it needs a tough nosed adminstrator with unequivocal support from the Council. It is not about being democratic, but accepting the notion of “natural hierarchy”, with the Kalapa Council setting a realistic financial goal annually, then enforcing this plan as needed.
    The Plan, in brief: for consistent support of our core activities only, plan and roll out a full remake of our Centre transfer policy.
    Boring, you say! NOT as exciting as a periodic crisis appeal to individuals, rally the troops, etc. (I can feel your eyes glazing over now). But, well planned and done without exceptions, within two years, a consistent transfer policy can stabilize the core activities of Shambhala.

    Heres how: Every single urban and practice centre without exception transfers monthly, say, 7% of ALL their monthy income (programs, dues, and donations), to Shambhala, which no longer competes in annual fundraising, but only for special appeals (Sakyong retreat, etc). Annual fundraising is done wholeheartedly by each and every centre. A consistent share is then transferred to Shambhala International.

    If we pursue this “radical” approach, we may see a permanent change in our core financial structure. It means the Unified Giving scheme morphs into “United Local Giving” on Shambhala Day (and other times..)” Ie. Members and friends give wholeheartedly to the centres and programs of their choice, knowing that a small portion will always be transferred to support the Sakyong and core activties of Shambhala. Shambhala International will make special appeals only.

    This approache puts regular fundraising where it’s most personal– at local and practice centres. Less confusion or questioning by sangha. Some centres may struggle with this approach at first, while others would be innovative and expand since they can now fundraise more from their local audience.

    Obstacles: Making exceptions for some centres! This is a slippery slope, and it has crashed in the past. The key is to annually estimate a responsible budget for core activities of Shambhala, then set a transfer rate for all centres, without exception. Also, have an easy system for making the transfers. Electronic and credits card payments make collection simple. There may be objections from some centres (..”it never worked before”). But with clear rules, bravery, and persistence, there’s no reason we cannot make this approach work. Many organizations do. Nuff said!

  68. Thank you most of all for supporting the vision of the Sakyong through your various Kalapa Council initiatives – it has brought us a long way toward unifying the mandala. As well, thank you for opening the communications on Finances. Please do take it a few steps further by sending at least annual financial reports through email to the entire membership, (include graphs and charts also for those of us who glaze over with long lists of only numbers). I agree with what seems to be an emerging consensus to “ask again”, and to plan to ask on a quarterly basis, in conjunction with the Nyida Days. We would also like to see an Annual Budget, Actual, (and consider creating an Ideal Annual Budget, that could be used as a basis for comparison.) Also, support Jesse’s idea of providing a mandala-wide “sliding scale” donation chart that would help provide a reference point for an average, per person or family, again stressing the voluntary nature of donation appeals. In line with transparency and openess, please do give us a picture of the realistic financial goals. I have a question: What is the value of having the various Land Centres doing their own Fund Raising? Please help us see how this happens within the context of One mandala. And as Brett asked, where do we send donations to respond to this appeal?

  69. I like the idea of contributing a basic monthly membership fee on top of our local center support, and then be asked to contribute for specific development efforts. This would create stability in the annual budget, and would create a direct relationship between member generosity beyond the basics, and the ability to expand. I would also retain the philosophy of never turning anyone away for lack of funds from membership, local events and the ability to participate in the core teachings. Those who can’t afford should be made aware that they are receiving a scholarship, and those who give should know how many and in what ways others are being helped.

    I also think there should be a dedicated staff just for developing and sustaining marketing. This will have to balance opportunities for revenue with avoiding the appearance of being driven by materialism. I believe there should be input from those who most closely represent the Sakyong’s vision in order to avoid such an appearance. At the same time, good marketing is not inherently greedy when it meets the needs of aspirants for access to the dharma.

    Finally I’d encourage Shambhala to think outside the box of tradition and embrace two important trends: the increasing acceptance of Buddhism and Buddhist principles into everyday life, and the pervasiveness of social media. By this I mean, developing social and financial connections with other lineages, and developing a facebook and twitter presence, as well as smartphone apps, that adhere fully to the vision and make it easy to donate.

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to weigh in, I was delighted to read everyone else’s comments. Keep up the transparency!

  70. Clear financial reports annually that anyone can understand.

    Financial transparency top to bottom. What monies, holdings, property, assets are being given to support the Sakyong and family annually? What does the Sakyong offer back financially (or would consider offering in light of our financial situation) from teaching fees, books or other ventures supported in part or full by the organization and members’ donations. This is not a detraction from the wealth of teachings and leadership he offers rather here’s the opportunity for modeling a healthy approach to money and wealth. It would be great if we could as a society feel free to speak openly and address issues that have caused pain and divisiveness now and in the past in this community.

    Less infrastructure, more turning out. I’d love to see a fund to support projects by community members which bring forth the Shambhala vision and impact the larger society (e.g. in areas of education, health, business, food, arts and culture etc.)

    Ask, ask and thank! Give more attention and thanks to the countless hours people donate; in-kind donations—reflect this in reports.

    Strategic planning from leadership for other sources of revenue generation as some have mentioned. Especially the internet, e.g. online participation at Grace Cathedral or the like

    I appreciate the work of this group and your invitation to give comments in an open forum. I also appreciate everyone’s candid and good hearted replies.

  71. I like the idea of a blog, but the response has been a bit overwhelming, so if I’m replicating comments already made, apologies.

    My understanding was that part of the motive for the one-day appeal was to cut down on seeming competition among centers and Shambhala activities. This is a good idea as far as it goes, but the problem is that it’s hard to know what it means exactly. For example, ,when I go to Scorpion Seal this summer, will there not be an appeal for the Sakyong Ladrang? This would be both counterintuitive and silly, since the Sakyong’s presence is a potent inspiration for generosity. Similarly, I can’t believe the land centers will not do some fundraising, however low key, at times when they are hosting SMR. And I agree with previous posters that not everyone can see their way clear to make a large donation or pledge for the year in February/March.

    Yours in the Great East,

    Janet Romaine

  72. I want to share contemplations I have had concerning finances for our local Center in Montreal. One approach to a recent shortfall (16% of the annual budget) was to develop an intensive program schedule, designed to produce revenue. Our teaching staff has been reduced from 12 to 8 in the last 3 years. And 2 of the 8 are fragile in health. Looking at the math, it is not possible for 6 healthy teachers, plus 2 fragile ones to work hard enough to raise 1/2 of the $60,000 per year we need just to pay the rent. Especially with programs now requiring people take courses as well as weekend programs, and fewer and fewer people are getting through the first 5 levels in one year. This year we did not even have enough participants to host a level 5. So, if we are to have a center, in my view the heart of it must be the Sangha, not the curriculum or the program schedule. We have a brilliant Maitri Bhavana program every month, Sunday morning, with a White Tara practice. People come because they need help. Here, we provide a service! I believe we could also have workshops on art, ikebana, or even shamatha, where people can practice together, learn a little, but not have to study and listen to a 2 hour lecture every week. If we support a sangha, perhaps with a credit for members or friends, then we can perhaps build our center and our finances. Since 2008, all non-profits are struggling, looking for ways to partner with other non-profits and reduce costs. The trend of lower revenues will only continue. I cannot give more. And I see others reaching their limits. Let’s bring this vision down to the ground, I say. Or we risk loosing it all.

    • I should have said level 5 was canceled in spring 2011, we did manage to have a small level 5 this year.
      It is excellent to read the many postings here. Thanks for the chance to comment!

      • ps. I know of a zen center in Portland, Oregon that has a very successful buddhist sunday school. They have to rent several spaces just to house everyone every sunday. Over 500 members of their center, simple curriculum, other sangha’s rent their space for weekly sitting practice. They own 2 homes now (in-town monastaries), one Center, and are in the process of buying an entire building complex. They have an active board, and are advised by professional realtors, accountants, etc.

  73. When local centers deviate from a true Buddhist vision, Shambhala or otherwise, and become insensative to the needs and feelings of members and guests in order to advance personal position or other ego related agendas fundraising suffers. The fact that this is allowed to continue year after year and is known at least anecdotally at multiple layers of the mandala and is not addressed also leads to questions of creditability for the greater organization. In my opinion and through conversations I have had with other members of the community I think this is one issue that should also be addressed.

    I sometimes think that some of the individuals that donate the most do so in lieu of practicing true compassion and generosity. Pay alot and get a better seat in the front of the room…….

    • Or a nice thangka or calligraphy… not that it isn’t wise to incentivize giving to a degree, but it’s not the same as true generosity…

  74. Hi there,

    I am new to the Shambhala Mandala but am enthusiastic about our vision. What is arrising for me as I look throught this (admittedly not ALL the comments), is that we are still looking at ourselves as an external body (the Shambhala community) and ourselves. What I mean by this is that mostly we have our own jobs and our own lives into which we intertwine our practice and our Sangha. I think that we view the orgnization that is our Council and it’s teachers, etc, are an independant body. But no body in nature is not part of a larger system. We cannot look upon our financial concerns and think “we need our members to contribute more, how can we do that.” While the Council and our Teachers work hard to offer us services in terms of teaching, what is not happening is the integration of other aspects of life that nurture the whole… if you’re lost, what I mean is that in a body from a holistic view we have a body, mind and spirit. Our Council and our Sangha feeds our spirit but what about our bodies? Material financial success is obviously just as important or we wouldn’t be having this dilemma.

    To get to the point… I believe we must look at creative ways to create other services for which we would naturally attain the nourishment for the body. Why can we not educate artisans within our community to make zabutons and zafus? How about we design and make our own line of affordable but comfortable clothing that is comfortable for sitting? Can we encourage our artists to make Dharma art and sell it at an auction? Can we create buninesses in our community, employ our sanghas and bring the profits back to the greater Mandala? We can develop community gardens and sell our harvest, we can have a cafe encouraging mindful eating and local food, we can teach craft skills like spinning and sewing as meditative actions (and they are for I have done them) and sell our products not just to our sanghas, but to the greater wolrd who appreciate the idea of something made with great care, mindfulness and love. Every thing that we make will be naturally embued with drala, each item will carry into our everyday lives the energy of minfulness. This is a tangable love that can permeate the physical material world. Surely in business this is a “value added” product and people will pay for that, bringing in money from outside our Mandala and feeding the vision of bringing our intention, love and care to the greater world. I can teach many of these skills, and I’m very certain there are many existing crafts people and business people within our community that can see a way to intergrate our financial welbeing into a more holistic view.

    • Warm Greetings,

      My thoughts thus far are congruent with Erin and John Odenthal in terms of long term planning. I am not an expert by any means in the financial world. I did work for a stable and well respected youth organization that was structured similarly with central services–where I worked, and our job was to support and serve member centers that were spread across the Province which was challenging–so I couldn`t imagine a worldwide situation. Many bows to you all who work so hard! All the centers had dues to pay to the central services, which provided stability since the rest of our funding was less certain–so a diverse portfolio was key, and a major strength. The central services projected a sense of being trustworthy which resulted in magnetizing more centers to arise, which in turn strengthened our capacity to offer more. I`m not suggesting that SI is not trustworthy, it is just an example.

      I think we have alot of potential boiling at this point in time, and the term social purpose enterprise has been ringing in my mind for awhile when I think of Shambhala and our financial waves of instability. If we could offer a service or product that does not rely solely on our programs and meditation, but something more tangible, and interesting to anyone who may not necessarily be interested in meditation but would buy anyway. There are grants and loans available for non profits to start these types of initiatives.. in Canada anyway. In Nova Scotia, an announcement was made last week that loans up to $150,000 are available to NS for social purpose enterprise initiatives.
      http://novascotia.ca/news/details.asp?id=20120411001

      For the short term, I would encourage spontaneous creativity and community engagement since we are all in this together, as you said. Members could gather at their local centers and brainstorm a fundraising campaign that could last until the end of May–which is the deadline I believe. A percentage could be dedicated to the local center as well. Ideas for campaigns could be marathon themes like all night movies, dancing, dharma readings and poetry, talent shows, food or baking and tasting contests, games night, like a casino, chess, poker etc. See what the community has to bring and offer something that would draw people from outside as well. It could be done weekly until the deadline. Perhaps offering an extra spin to some weekly happening at the center.. bake sale, or sell some flowers or ikebana arrangements for mother`s day!

      With deep appreciation for your dedication and hard work,
      Josee

    • I believe the type of thing you express in your last paragraph is very important, for the reasons you state, and to help develop alternatives to some products and services which are produced and sold in a non-mindful and sometimes even adharmic way. For Shambhala and Shambhalians to go on purchasing these things may be unavoidable in the near-term, but ultimately is not helpful.

  75. Has anyone looked at a drop in contributions from longtime students of CTR? I, for one, have stopped contributing to SI (after being quite generous for many, many years) and have decreased my dues to my local center because I do not support some aspects of the Sakyong’s vision. But perhaps those like me are too small a group to worry about — it certainly seems that way from the radical changes that have been introduced to the path I started on. For example, a major negative step for me was the changes made to the daily chants. (The chants have often been changed in the past, but not in such an extreme way. Can we please restore the heart sutra?)

  76. Shambhala isn’t even prepared for the near future, much less the distant. Millions of tons of radioactive tsunami debris is just now washing up all along the US west coast and that’s just the beginning.

    The future is full of Fukushima cesium and strontium and the whole alphabet of radioactive isotopes in the milk and the grass and the pollen and everything.

    A big change is unfolding. The world changed on 3/11/11 but Shambhala goes on as if nothing changed. But Fukushima did happen and it is still happening and getting worse and it will be happening forever.

    I wish Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche would offer us Shambhalians first of all an acknowledgement of the reality of the tragedy that Fukushima is for humankind and every kind of life on earth.

    Secondly, I wish our Sakyong would offer us a clear view of how we should proceed in this radically different global environment. How is the entity of Shambhala and the community of warriors to proceed most helpfully in this new sad reality?

  77. I think we have to be aware of several things – 1) People are not usually sitting around thinking “Who can I give my money to?” 2) Many people are still quite worried about their own finances and giving may not be a top priority. However, they may be more able to give 3 or 6 months from now rather than right now. Reminders are helpful. 3) Shambhala is a non-profit organization and as such, MUST ask for money! On a regular basis! That’s how non-profits work – NPR, churches, others. 4) I’m not sure, but I think that the Buddhist community as a whole is not large enough or visible enough in this country to expect that giving to Buddhist oriented organizations is going to come naturally.
    If people want to give, they probably want to know what the money is being used for, in very specific terms. And, of course, they don’t want to fund lavish lifestyles for anyone. (I don’t believe anyone is getting fat off of Shambhala funds as so many are volunteers, and I do believe costs are closely watched)

    So my thought is to do fundraisers 3-4 times a year, whether they coincide with special days in the calendar or not. Be transparent about where the money is going. Don’t spend money you don’t have.

    Thanks for letting me have my say.

  78. In addition to membership in Shambhala, I am a member of KTD, HH Karmapa’s center in Woodstock NY. While this model differs from ours greatly because of only one central property/location for the entitly one belongs to, it gives a model of different levels of “membership” that we might consider along with benefits of membership. While complicated, it could be motivating. In any case, there is no shyness in defining a minimum contribution to be considered a member. I think the challenge is that people in Shambhala who identify strongly with their local center and already give as much as they can there might not be able to do this easily. In any case, below is the membership/giving model for KTD:
    Membership Categories and Benefits

    Members enjoy invitations to members-only events, discounts on program costs and accommodations at KTD, as well as on Namse Bangdzo Bookstore purchases.

    General
    $300 per year for one person or $360 for a family.
    General membership includes a twenty percent discount on accommodations, and a ten percent discount on KTD bookstore purchases.

    Senior
    $216 per year for one person or $288 for a couple of age 62 or older.
    Benefits are the same as for a General Membership.

    Student
    $120 per year for one person or $144 for a couple for a full-time student(s) at an accredited high school or college. Benefits are the same as for a General Membership.

    Supporting
    $600 per year for one person or $750 for a family.
    In addition to the benefits of General Membership, Supporting Members receive free tuition for one weekend teaching a year.

    Sustaining
    $1,200 per year for one person or $1,500 for a family.
    In addition to the benefits of General Membership, Sustaining Members receive free tuition for two weekend teachings a year. The names of all Sustaining Members will be sent to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa so that he will be aware of persons making donations at this level.
    Sustaining Members are eligible for participation in the Donors’ Circle Advisory Group.

    Circle of Generosity
    $3,000 per year for one person or $3,600 for a family.
    In addition to the benefits of General Membership, members of the Circle of Generosity receive free tuition at all teachings. Names and pictures of Circle of Generosity members will be sent to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa so that he can become familiar with the people donating at this level. (Pictures are to accompany the membership enrollment form and dues.)
    Circle of Generosity Members are eligible for participation in the Donors’ Circle

    • Dear Gayle: Thanks for posting this — a very sane approach to membership in an organization such as Shambhala. (Reminds me of the very successful membership structure instituted by the Vajradhatu-now-Shambhala Archives many years ago, although on a smaller scale.)

      Having a fundamental membership structure in place might just encourage members to relax, giving basic generosity an opportunity to arise and express itself. Being asked over and over and over again to save the day, without full transparancy, has become very tiresome.

  79. I absolutely agree that we cannot provide services that we cannot afford to pay for. These are very challenging times for all non-profit organizations. Collaboration with other like-minded organizations appears to be one of the key strategies employed by those that are succeeding.

    I shared the concerns expressed by the Kalapa Council with my husband Mark Ishaug, the CEO of Thresholds, a non-profit organization in Chicago that serves thousands of folks living with severe mental illness. He in turn shared an observation about collaboration sparked by remarks made recently by Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). In her inspiring presentation at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, Pamela outlined strategies for improving individual and community health, including mental health, that comport with the Shambhala vision.

    She spoke about hope, faith and love.

    She spoke of the need to understand our emotions, manage stress, and build positive social relationships.

    What an opportune time for Shambhala to partner with SAMSHA and other local, state and federal partners in developing and implementing evidence based curricula to help individuals and communities develop healthy lives.

  80. First, as Ross and others have said.  Ask again. Ask soon.  There is no way to know if there is support for the current Shambhala International vision and it’s associated funding needs, until you ask again.

    Second, Mark Hazell makes some good points (his comment on April 17):

    1) “I confess that all of the presentations that have been sent to the members have been difficult for me to follow”. “I have never seen a simple, department by department expense budget for the year (or the next three years, which would be even better). Where expenses are divided between departments or categories, some explanation as to why they are treated this way and what the total for these expenses is would be very helpful.”

    2) “I think it would be very helpful to be able to present to members all across the mandala a picture of what the ideal total annual donations would be — to the centre of the mandala and to one’s local centre.”. Then Mark goes through the math to estimate that the current proposed budget would require 5% of an average person’s before tax income (I.e. A higher percentage of income after taxes).  

    Third, I’ll offer this idea for consideration.  When people give funds to Shambhala International (SI), they are supporting various types of work that support local centers and our shared mission, creating Enlightened Society.  From where I sit in Texas, it is hard to get much of a sense of the relationship between a dollar I send and the work it will support.  Personally, I’m really supportive of the Shambhala Network, the Sakyong’s new book on Running, and the brilliant marketing, PR, and support for this new book.  Someone(s) done a wonderful job of making the Sakyong’s work, and therefore our work, MUCH more visible in the world. (Great job!)  Other members will know, identify, and strongly support other Shambhala International services.

    What if?  Shambhala International set up an e-commerce site.  (Short term, someone could probably set up a new “product line” for an existing e-commerce site.) Each individual Shambhala International work group could tell us:

    * how much they spent last year, what they accomplished.  
    * what they want to accomplish this year, how much it will cost, how much their work is currently funded, how much additional funding is needed (perhaps with one of those “united way” thermometers)

    So imagine, for example, I’m reading the Shambhala Network pitch for funding in this e-commence site, and I decide I want to support their work with $xx. I would “click” “add to shopping cart” $xx for the Shambhala Network.  By the way, I would recommend that one of the options would be “click” “add to shopping cart” $xx for Shambhala International consolidated budget.

  81. After viewing the fundraising video and now reviewing this new information I am still uncertain how my previous donations are specifically being used and what efforts they are specifically supporting. I’ve requested financial statements and budgets with respect to Shambhala US in an attempt to understand, but to date have received nothing – not even an acknowledgement of my request. Transparent financial disclosure may alleviate confusion and demonstrate need, which may cause donors to increase support accordingly. Lack of financial transparency may only further hinder the fundraising efforts.

    There is also the appearance positions/programs were created and funds were committed prior to the actual funding being obtained. At this point in time the solution seems to lie in scaling back positions/programs until adequate, sustainable funding sources can be obtained.

  82. I believe fundraising succeeds better when it is personal. This doesn’t mean using technology to insert my name into an email that I know is going to thousands of people. It means well before Shambhala Day, I should have had a conversation (preferably face to face, at least over the phone) with someone deputed by Shambhala to explore a)what I know and how I feel about the Sakyong’s vision for Shambhala, and b) what I am prepared to commit financially in the coming year. If done in a timely way, I think this would have both upped the level of donations and permitted more realistic (and hence, responsible) projections for how much money would be raised via the “one time” appeal. I think we have the logistic capability to do this. In an era when everyone’s inbox is overflowing with appeals for money from all directions, I think we need to re-invent the wheel intelligently.

  83. Please continue to maintain the expansion of services already begun without omitting anything. I believe many people will offer more if asked. Please just ask for more donations . . . then ask again a third time later in the year if there is still a shortfall.
    This expansion of services was long needed and many people may just habitually have given what they usually give. People will rise to what is needed if they know there is a shortfall. I myself hesitated to give on Shambhala Day and then it slipped my mind. I have sent a donation now and will send a donation again if needed.

  84. Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback and comments, though I agree it’s a bit overwhelming at this point. There are many good suggestions that I hope will inform decision-making, especially the idea to provide specific guidance on contributions per person needed to meet the shortfall. Centers could be given specific goals to meet and support could be given to help them implement ideas to reach these goals. In our smaller centers there is a great need to build capacity in many areas, especially fundraising and strategic planning for local initiatives.

    I would also like to echo the view that a budget that could be wholeheartedly supported by the community would be based on sound judgment and reasonable expectations about giving in the coming year – not on wishful thinking.

  85. My family financial circumstances on this past Shambhala Day can give one example of why the “one-shot” fundraising effort didn’t work for us. That day found me facing imminent loss of employment. So rather than writing a check for the suggested amount, we each wrote checks for our usual Shambhala Day 108 dollars, (which I admit I did reluctantly, given the situation). Well the good news is that I found a new job and things are fine. But I think the one-shot idea might not work for many others, as well. Those who are of modest means, and possibly having a tight month or week at the time of the appeal, might be reluctant to be as generous as they wish to be. Then there is the issue of folks who simply can’t get away from work on Shambhala Day and just aren’t in the shrine room for the inspiring appeal, Shambhala Day address, and so on. They might be “lost” to the one-shot fundraiser just for not showing up, (in spite of numerous email and web based associated notices).
    What works? Although it took a lot of work, I think the old PAG (Planned Annual Giving) model worked pretty well. Person to person appeals in small groups or individual meetings, (Deleg based?). I believe that’s how we began automatic withdrawal donations, (speaking of my family here in Chicago). In this year’s case, the “one-shot” appeal, spread out over 12 months, would come to less than 30 dollars per member. That would still be a lot for many folks. But like the folks at the PBS fundraisers say, “that’s way less than a cup of coffee a day.” And although comparisons might be odious, when I think of how much we spend each month for our “smart”phone service, my head spins.
    Cheerio.

  86. Thoughtful replies so far – an encouraging sign of the importance of the dialogue.
    Bringing heaven and earth together means paying the bills for the tangible and intangible gifts of receiving teachings and transmissions. We have to sit on the cushion everyday to be fully present; we have to buy food everyday to stay alive; and we have to contribute to the source of our spiritual good to sustain the interdependent web of existence. This is the message of supporting the mandala – the lineage that supports us.
    Kindness, generosity and courage are their own rewards. If I believe this, then I must make it real in my practice and in my wordly affairs: believing by contributing in the faith of an abundant universe and alignment with that source is the afirmation and confirmation of all that we receive thorugh this community. We have to practice what we preach.
    This is the attitude and communication that people need to hear. I’m afraid I’ll have to let others more knowledgable and connected figure out haow to do this so that we can pay the bills. I know we will. Thank you

    • Hoyt,
      There is a possibility that we can’t “pay the bills”. That is what we are talking about.
      A pensioner recently committed suicide in front of the parlaiment in Greece, because they can’t pay the bills, and he was going to become homeless or starve.
      Limitation is the reality of the earth element. Limitation is good, it is grounding. Like sitting meditation, sit still and get honest.
      My understanding is that many Centers are struggling to “pay the bills.” The new curriculum requires resident teachers to teach the courses, many centers don’t have resident teachers for all 5 levels. Let’s look at the math for participants now trying to enter the Path of the Warrior, $900 (before membership fees or anything else), 140 hours at the Center in training, traveling every week for 6 months to their Center to attend evening classes 2 hours long.
      It is not accessible to everyone to follow that level of commitment, even if the Center can manage to host it.
      Meanwhile, rents are going up. Rent went up 25% last year in Montreal.
      And how much volunteer time is being required by all this? How many people pushed to the point of burning out, and then asked to give more? How many people leave, because of just that, never mind all the politics and sense of disconnect? How hard are the Shastris and Acharya’s working? It’s painful, it seems un-Shambhalian!
      Honestly, it seems the basic reality of limitation not considered in the vision of SI.
      An organization this big should have a clear, solid business plan, based on the economic realities of the times. It needs to have a single focus, a mission statement, that every single decision can be measured next to. Business and accounting professionals should be closely involved in reviewing and advising, outside professionals, impartial to issues of status. A space for the sacred is possible, within a business plan. If some things need to be private, so be it, but a foundational plan is, well, foundational.
      I understand in general non-profits are advised to diversify their sources of income. Clearly relying on the new curriculum to finance the Centers and SI is not going to work. And a more expensive membership to a Center that can’t even host a full curriculum is not so interesting, to be kind.

  87. “According to Master of the Kalapa Court Mark Thorpe, Rinpoche discovered the house a little over a year ago while searching for a new residence in the Boulder area to better accommodate his family. Of the many homes that were considered, this one alone displayed a distinct quality of Court. Beyond its ample size, the space offered the attributes of home, palace and throne — thereby perfect to host the seat of the Shambhala lineage.”

    “A focal point of the house, this large room features abundant sunlight, a magnificent Tibetan rug and stunning views of Boulder’s foothills and the Colorado Rocky Mountains.”

    The above are a couple of excerpts from a Shambhala Times article less than a month ago! And then, in the discussion above on “financial challenges”, we see the following – “We have enough funds to last until the middle or end of May. After that, we will be unable to meet our monthly expenses unless we take other immediate measures.”

    There was lots of hoopla and marketing about the new book and not a single word about where the profits will go. What in the world is going on! I think most would agree that the Buddha himself was pretty good at communicating the teachings and setting the wheels in motion. Somehow he managed to do that without a “palace and throne.”

    • The point I’m trying to make is that in the throes of a financial shortfall, and even if SI was NOT in the throes of a financial shortfall, the trappings of royalty and the related financial drains should be discarded (i.e., sold!). Such things are totally superfluous to what a true Buddhist movement should be. When the Buddha begged alms, he didn’t use the proceeds for houses, palaces, thrones, etc. An approach that emulated the modesty and humility of the Dalai Lama would be a major step in the right direction.

  88. I think the message that people didn’t like being repeatedly approached for money may have been misinterpreted when the one time appeal was devised.

    When Chogyam Trungpa started Shambhala, many, if not most, members had a personal relationship with him. A long time has passed since his death and even though many of his original students remain connected to Shambhala, the bulk of current membership must have found Shambhala in the years since 1987. Although there may be a great deal of respect for and devotion to the Sakyong, I think most members wouldn’t say they have a personal relationship with him. I think most of us relate to our local centers and feel the connection to Halifax to be somewhat mysterious and tenuous.

    Because the connection is mostly local, I think it makes more sense for a bottom up support of the mandala center via a set percentage of all local center revenue, both from dues and class income being transmitted to central. This would require careful financial planning and a committed phasing in approach. I think the OPERATING budget for central services and the support of the Sakyong and his family should be covered in this way. Any special projects (such as support for the Sakyong’s retreat) could be addressed in a special fundraising appeal. People are more likely to give beyond their local dues when they can understand what they are being asked to support.

    If this approach were begun, members could be given the opportunity to increase their dues by the percentage that would be transmitted to the Mandala Center. Knowing this would replace the periodic appeals from central that are associated with nidya days I think many members would chose to make the increase.

    That there would be constant transparency of income and spending from the central level goes without saying. Consistency and follow through would be most helpful.

  89. Sometimes a warrior will doze through the first call to action, as I have done. Please share the information necessary to allow me to immediately respond.

    I like the idea of an annual donation on Shambhala Day. I think the idea will gain support rapidly, but without being able to prepare for it, I could not donate that amount at that time. May we try it again next year, with some horn honking, cymbal crashing, and joyous ruckus 4-6 weeks beforehand, so even I will hear in time?

    Thank you. Breathing in. Breathing out.

    Paul
    (Milwaukee)

  90. I haven’t been able to read all comments, so this point may have been made, but our center experienced low to no audio when the fundraising first happened by live video. Going by the live typed-in comments very many other centers were experiencing the same problem – “NO audio!” ” We can’t hear you!” etc. – Perhaps if there hadn’t been any problems, the energy of the moment would have produced a bigger response. Whereas the audio was intermittent for most of the Sakyong’s address, it disappeared completely as President Reoch started to speak……

  91. What is His Majesty’s view of the ongoing year-long nuclear disaster in Japan which is threatening our brothers and sisters in Boulder and Denver [11% increase in mortality in Denver in 2011] and threatening all life on earth? Surely this is a game-changer? How does Shambhala address this new reality?

    Let us hope that His Majesty has a better way than to pretend that what is happening in our very lifetimes and before our very eyes is not really happening. The sky is thick with purple clouds of sickness. The world needs more than a stained glass window. With love…

    http://enenews.com/head-researcher-boulder-colorado-hot-spot-fukushima-fallout-other-canadian-samples-came-close-boulders-contamination-except-portland-higher

  92. Thank you to “A Member” who posted the link to the budget documents on the SI Member’s website. Thank you also to Connie Brock for her intelligent and succinct presentation of the SI financial statements. This is excellent information and I was simply unaware this information was being provided. My bad.

    After review of the budgets it appears fixed expenses have been created, therefore, we need to create fixed sources of revenue to offset these fixed expenses. Periodic fundraising is not the answer. SI needs to work directly with each center and implement a funding mechanism whereby the local centers are funding SI directly. It is simply too difficult for us at the local level to explain all of these expenses to our local participants. It is also too difficult for SI to explain all of these expenses via audio/video which seldom works properly.

    Yes, SI can and should continue to raise funds mainly in the form of recurring monthly donations, however, each center needs to charge and additional fee per program participant. The fee needs to be sent to SI on a monthly basis. The math works like this:

    150 centers X 60 participants per month x $10 = $90,000

    $90,000 X 12months = $1,080,000

    I clearly have no idea if the participant numbers are reasonable, but the illustration is easy to understand.

    We need to drop the poverty mentality, ask for the money, implement the fees, and get back to practice.

  93. I think it’ll be good to cut down on existing services and meanwhile encourage both one-time and recurring donations by fundraising one more time.

  94. Hi to All:
    I do not think that it is sustainable for the wonderful but small sanga to be able to continue to fund the needs of the larger organization. In my opinion, our outreach programs need to have the ability to generate funds. Programs to the corporate community, such as teaching relaxation/mindfulness, are popular, needed and generate large sums of monies for profit based groups. There is no reason that I can see that these type of opportunities and other profit based endeavors should not be available to Shambhala.

  95. I find this news disappointing. It seems to me that SI is spending money it doesn’t have in a delusional, setting-sun way.
    I was talking to a friend about my feeling that I need to find a new job, partly because I don’t foresee making more money at the one I have, and she said: Do you need more money?
    Do we need more money? Do we need these programs? Does the Sakyong need a new house? I whole heartedly support the Sakyong’s vision of enlightened society, but I don’t believe that this exemplifies enlightened society. As a member of a small center, the new programs seem mostly to be confusing and create additional work.
    You didn’t get the money you need in the one-day fundraiser; that was an experiment, and it didn’t work. Ask for more, but please explain why you NEED it.

  96. Where in the Mandala is there success with donations for Shambhala International?

    For example, let’s look at Shambhala Centers by the percent of members who donate (in multiple aspects .. one time this Shambhala Day, monthly auto payment, during the past calendar year). I’ll guess that there is a distribution with a few exceptional successes.

    Similarly, what is the pattern of Center donations/member? Where are our outlier successes?

    Which are showing a positive trend (year over year higher participation, higher total donations)?

    What are the characteristics of these Centers? Size? Practice/training level? Age of the Center? Age of its members? Years on the path? ???

    We might be surprised by one or more of the patterns. That will give us an opportunity to learn.

    Having found our bright spots, our positive trend setters, talk to them. Ask them “what makes it possible to be giving at this higher level?”

    And of course, report back to the community. Let the bright spots shine.

    (I’d be happy to help look for patterns.)

    • What about having standard financial report formats, that allow local centers to analyze their own annual finances? How do we streamline our financial processes so that it does not take one person 3 – 5 days each month just to document financial transactions for the Center? Let’s bring this brilliant brainstorming process down to the ground and solve some real problems that are taking too much time an energy.

  97. I have read the Sakyong’s letter. I find it impossible to interpret the letter as saying, “Shambhala International needs to create a lot of new positions and the community needs to raise over a million dollars a year in order to support these new positions.”

    When I read the letter, I hear something like, “we need to exert ourselves in practice and study in order to become a kinder and more compassionate society that is capable of doing some good in the world.”

    When I read the statement about raising more money than ever on Shambhala Day, but we have a shortfall of 780 thousand dollars, I laugh. Not in a mean way…in a way that wonders what kind of tangent the fundraisers are on. How can money raise the level of kindness and compassion in the Shambhala community?

    Money can be an obstacle to transformation. For example, volunteering can be much more invigorating than working. The activities involved, if not identical, are similar, but the state of mind can be very different.

    Sitting practice doesn’t cost a thing…but what an effect…

    If we work toward transformation, on both individual and cultural bases, we magnetize people and money.

    If we support our local centres by practicing there on a regular basis, and by making connections with new people, we build and expand the sangha.

    On the other hand, if we are absentee members, our money doesn’t really do a lot to create a kinder and more compassionate culture…because a culture needs a population…and a kinder and more compassionate culture is built with individuals who have the generosity to train on a regular basis and to continue to study.

    As the Sakyong says, “No matter what we are doing, we are training in something.” We have this enormous wealth…a human birth where we have met the Dharma. How do we want to spend it? That might be the only wealth challenge that needs to be raised and answered.

    I’m pretty sure that most of us already have whatever training we need to become kinder and more compassionate. We just need to engage it. And when we do, everything else is clear and simple.

    We are very lucky…all best to everyone.
    Thank you to the Kalapa Council and to everyone in the mandala.

  98. • What should we do in the short term? Preserve our existing level of service by fundraising one more times in the next year? Cut back on existing services?
    ****
    First and foremost, I greatly appreciate the candid and earthy quality with which I feel that these questions have been offered to us all for discourse. These questions are truly near and dear to my heart and my fervent wishes for our whole sangha in the coming years. I am sad to say that my suggestions may lack any REAL answers to these excellent questions. In the spirit of your open question, I offer these thoughts. May they be helpful in some way.
    In order to answer the questions about finances for our mandala I have to reflect on some basic principles as a way to approach this topic. These principles are quite rudimentary and I am quite sure that we all have exercised and carried this fundamental vision with us on this profound path of propagating and practicing this excellent path of dharma. I wonder though if these words can be of any assistance on the stated goals of this mission.
    In a society of people, the needs of the many and the needs and desires of the majority of the individuals are obviously what instigate and regulate the behaviors and demeanor of those peoples. In other words, people do what they can;
    A. Understand (to whatever degree)
    B. Agree upon and
    C. Have the ability to contribute to, or at least feel that there contribution will have some meaningful way of bringing about the desired result.
    These are almost insultingly obvious to all of us and I am not suggesting that anyone here does not understand this premise. I mention these 3 points as a way to discuss the topic of your excellent question.
    ______________________________
    Point A. Understanding ‘the mission.’
    As a given, IF PEOPLE UNDERSTAND HOW TO CONTRIBUTE, WHAT IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED and WHY THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT HAS MEANING, then the scope of point A (Understanding) is complete and we are able to move on to point number 2.
    With this understanding then people can get behind and weather any storms that may arise on the path towards accomplishing the goal (in this case the gathering of moneys to fund the vision that The Sakyong has laid out for Shambhala in the coming years.)
    This understanding is quite fundamental and extremely important since there will undoubtedly be many potential storms in realizing the excellent visions presented to us all by The Sakyongs and which contrast so sharply with the capitalistic ideals of the American cultural model.
    If this understanding is not clear then there is no reason to attempt to move to point B or C. So obviously, we must find a way for everyone that wants to get involved to be kept abreast of the details and the whys and wherefores of ‘the mission.’
    It IS possible to continue without point A being completely clear to everyone but there will be difficulties that will be caused solely by any lack in the completion of Point A. This will need to be revisited and re emphasized again and again on the journey so as to keep the harmony of the group mind working together. A straggling group will only stumble along so far before it is dragged down by it’s own hesitation and confusion caused by an incomplete relationship with point A.
    ______________________________
    Point B. Agreement upon the efficacy, reasonings and goals of ‘the mission.’

    People do not have to be in complete agreement here however any and all dissensions that arises in the many people involved, will repeatedly spawn snowballs of dissent which will typically divide and segregate the harmonies of the group mind.
    When we are dealing with people who have solid agendas (and on some level the mission itself is a form of solid agenda to begin with) then there are always people who will feel that their method is the single best method for accomplishing the goal.
    These individual methods obviously cannot ALL be adopted, though the group mind can be brought into harmony by re-establishing agreement through repeatedly gathering and discussing the many methods, to acknowledge people’s contributions, and then to further adjust the pathways towards the accomplishing of the mission based on the many people’s insights and methods.
    For the most part, ALL of the methods need to be examined and given hearing in some meaningful way. Many of the methods that people offer can be dispersed through basic understanding and discussions to evaluate their relative merits and difficulties and in this way it would be possible to prevent anyone from feeling like they have 1. not been heard, 2. been ignored intentionally, 3. been discounted due to lack of clarity concerning their point of view or method.
    Agreement is a fickle science. It IS possible to proceed without point B being completely unanimous but again, there will certainly be difficulties that will be caused solely by an incomplete relationship with this point B (Agreement) It will need to be an ongoing and pivotal leg of ‘the mission.’
    ______________________________
    Point C. Having THE ABILITY or means or resources to contribute to, or at least feel that a contribution will have some meaningful way of bringing about the desired result.

    Mountains can and have been moved when this point has been completely established along the pathway towards many ‘missions’ in our sangha and, indeed, in the world at large.
    Money is a profound means.
    Large amounts of money can overcome obstacles of many kinds and ensure a complementary result for many (even perhaps MOST) ‘missions’. Money provides a buffer, a way to start over, a way to reward the ‘missionaries’ on their journey and benefits that can leverage many unfortunate circumstances out of the way along the journey of accomplishing ‘the mission.’ Obviously, however, money alone is not enough.

    _______________________________

    If we are not able to keep all three of these in harmonious balance with our intentions and visions then we have become too wide and diffuse.

    If we communicate these three basic principles to everyone, have understanding, agreement and ability yet our vision still cannot be realized, then we have grown too top heavy and we are having the problem of too many chiefs and not enough indians.
    Lots of people mouthing the words will not make for beautiful choir music, though I am sure the costumes will be grand.
    ____________________________________________________________

    • What are the alternatives that could lead to a new and healthier model of financial sustainability for Shambhala altogether?

    ***
    In answering this question I have to say that I so completely do not recognize our missions, wishes, visions and goals that I have little to suggest other than to say we may well be too heavy on the Lha side and not enough attention to Lu.
    In my experience of the shambhala mandala since around 2006 ish, my view of our community suggests that either we are not at the level that we think we are, or the amount of people who can afford to contribute to continuing this level of spending are people that are completely unknown to me.
    I have felt marginalized by our sangha for a very long time and it is not because I dont wish to contribute, it is because the amount of resources that I have available to contrbute seems more and more paltry as the ‘vision’ expands. And yet these visions keep expanding.
    I would have to say that I do not even know shambhala anymore.
    I am not suggesting this as a negative statement, merely a statement of fact.
    If cannot even dress this new fashionable and chic shambhala, let alone socialize with the trendy shambhalian community anymore … and I am sure that I am not alone.
    I feel that we have honestly gotten too big for our britches but I send the wish that this is just my poverty mentality and that whatever vision the Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche has for our community may be realized in it’s entirety and that it be of benefit to all beings in all ways.
    I send my best wishes and love to see that our sangha expands and the vision continues to be available to people that genuinely wish to learn, contemplate and meditate upon these genuine teachings.

    Simplify.

    In one word, the answer to the excellent question about an alternative for new and healthier models is to >>>simplify.
    Too many grandiose ideas and not enough money to fulfill them so it is time for triage.
    I know that this view that I offer would not be popular so, I offer expecting nothing in return, I offer knowing that giver and receiver are one.

    May auspiciousness flourish for all beings and especially for the sanghas of my profound teachers.

    Sincerely and with best wishes for all.

  99. The point I was trying to make earlier is that in the throes of a financial shortfall, and even if SI was NOT in the throes of a financial shortfall, the expensive trappings of royalty and the related financial drains should be discarded (i.e., sold!). Aren’t such things superfluous to what a true Buddhist movement should be? When the Buddha begged alms, he didn’t use the proceeds for houses, palaces, thrones, etc. Why are they necessary today for Shambhala? A major step forward from a fiscal perspective, as well as consistent with the non-materialistic principles of Buddhism, would be to shift to an approach that emulates the modesty and humility of the Dalai Lama. If that’s really not possible, or acceptable, or desirable, then what’s the point of it?

    • In the true SI ~ which is Siddhartha’s Intent guided by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche ~ only the legal and accounting positions are paid. The whole rest of that vibrant mandala is performed by volunteers. HEDKR himself, of course, is also a volunteer. All but a few percent of the money donated to Siddhartha’s Intent is directed to humanitarian and translation activities to benefit sentient beings, in the here and now, not in some imaginary future, which by the way thanks to Fukushima, ain’t what it used to be, if it ever wuz.

      • Interesting. Perhaps something this SI should consider. I find it amazing that the following statement was included in the Update. “The current money crunch has not occurred because of people’s lack of appreciation for the lineage vision or mistrust of the leadership. It is simply the result of not being able to generate in one single campaign the level of resources that previously we would raise over the whole year.”

        Of course! It has nothing to do with leadership!!! Leadership hasn’t overextended the organization, has it? It’s “simply” because the fundraising came up short, notwithstanding the growth in the Sangha that the Update notes. This result is absolutely no surprise. What is surprising is the tepid response. The Buddha himself discouraged blind loyalty. Obviously, that message doesn’t resonate here. Speak up! Change is good. When mistakes are made, fix them. Nothing wrong with getting back to the basic principles. If that is impossible, then this whole thing is nothing more than a mindless cult of sheep.

        • I stand corrected. Upon viewing the submitted comments, it’s apparent that there are others that see the folly (that’s being kind!) of committing to spend money not only that isn’t there, but spending money on unessentials. Let’s see if senior leadership takes note of this. In addition to being consistent with Buddhist principles (as opposed to lavish homes), it is simple common sense. We hear talk of courage. Time for leadership to show some courage, acknowledge that it lost its way, and get back to basics (which IS fiscally possible).

  100. Thank you, thank you very much for taking feedback from the community.

    I do think it is possible in one fundraising effort.
    But the seeds needed to be planted long, long, long before. It needs to be a cultural responsibility – a gift to the lineage.

    Every ‘Shambhala Household’ should make a gift on Shambhala Day. In the same way that you don’t go to someones house empty handed, or you bring food to someone that is sick or you make your tea offering. Something that is understood to be a building block of society. Our society.

    I realized that I gave about a 1/5 of what I usually give in a year on shambhala day. I mentally paced myself so that I would have $$ at the times of the retreats. I do hope the retreats that I attend will understand that we will NOT give as much if we give more on Shambhala day. But – we will always give something! I DO look forward to a harvest of peace that is ONLY local fundraising. It is really hard to encourage someone new to come to one of our cultural gatherings and the only thing they remember is the fundraising.

    It seems that the number of people who donated is very small. (1600 – and how many are on the Shambhala network?) How to reach the others? Are there others? People seem to feel fine about giving to the Sakyong but not so giving to an administration they don’t experience. I live in the boonies and the people here who sit – none of them even know about giving to Shambhala on Shambhala day. They go to the abbey and if they give, they give at the abbey. Does that get to you? Then there are those who are inspired by the teachings but are literally saving up for their next path program. Can the Shambhala groups (which benefit directly) contribute say a % of their income or budget a % to give to central admin? Most of our smaller groups are entirely voluntary – which is why people don’t understand why the admin needs to be paid. Of course it is with a few paid admin that we can grow our volunteer network, who grow our volunteer network etc.

    I will make an effort to talk to people this month about making their annual donation. I will have to contemplate and put into words what the administration does that we experience. The 3 part article in the Times is very helpful. It is an investment in future generations. Giving to the view is an expression of trust that society is good (and therefor our administration is basically good).

  101. I suggest centers have fundraisings for the center of the mandala that are not connected to mandala-wide, large celebrations or practices. The timing of these events could be decided upon by the local centers for periods during which the center has the time and human resources to host a fundraising event. It is often the case that there are so many events and practices we are asked to present that the fundraising aspect of mandala-wide gatherings is lost. Shambhala could provide support for the local fundraisers by posting, in one area, resources such as President Reoch’s wonderful fundraising videos, statements about the services provided by the center of the mandala, financial information, statements from the Sakyong, teachings on generosity and money, etc. Local centers could draw upon these resources to support “center of the mandala” appreciation and fundraising events that most suit the talents and interests of their own members.

    That being said, Shambhala Day has a history of providing for Shambhala that is widely recognized and supported, and more than one appeal from Halifax is not unreasonable and appears to be necessary. I will happily give again later in the year. All you do is greatly appreciated.

    PS – Bank of America had a program where organizations could have a credit card distributed with their logo and receive a percent of the purchases made with the cards. The bank also provided free support on how to advertise the cards. The process seemed pretty simple, but don’t know if it is still offered. Worth looking into.

  102. Cutting back now would be disastrous. Make another appeal as soon as possible and be specific about what the donations would pay for. At the same time, plan for more fund raising (if necessary) later this year.

  103. I don’t have a clear opinion on whether or not to cut back or push forward with projected SI needs and spending…seems like many others are informed and passionate about that area of strategy. I suggest that we get down and dirty at a local level and examine our areas of monetary waste and resourcefulness.

    In contemplating the mechanics of running a large urban center, there is one area of practice at our center where greater precision and thoughtful intentions of generosity could raise anywhere from $200 – $350 per weekend when a Level 1 – 5 occurs (variance depends on the size of the level).

    Examine the practice of waste and resourcefulness of end-of-level receptions:

    For example, here is a summary of the current trend in reception practice at our center:

    Technique = buy everything
    Hold a View of visual abundance and diversity.
    Manifestation of the View often leads to waste. Lots of food and drink are thrown out. Presentation of plenty and abundance (food passion) overtakes the practical measure of quantity of food per person. Participants are usually impressed, appreciative, and delighted. The food usually tastes awesome, too.

    Suggested modification:
    Technique = staff offers homemade, simple food contributions (perhaps all vegetarian to avoid potential food-bourne illness when cooking with meat)

    Hold a View of simple elegance and encourage staff to practice extending one’s generosity through minimalist, artful presentation

    Manifestation of the View…imagine a creative lima beans and brussel sprouts offering in the Winter season (instead of takeout from a nearby restaurant)…imagine ice water infused with sliced cucumbers or fresh mint from someone’s windowsill garden (instead of soda or juice).

    Would participants still be impressed, appreciative, and delighted? I am guessing that these attitudes and reflections arise more often because of practicing all weekend and due to the attitudes of staff who hold this perception…I think we could offer just rice, salad, and a cooked veggie and maybe we’d still see the same delight in both participants and staff at the end of the weekend.

    How would this raise money? Centers donate the portion of revenue raised by not spending on receptions directly to Shambhala International.

    At our center, we offer about 10 such levels a year…that’s anywhere from $2000 – $3500 of potentially found money. If 100 centers offered similar training schedules and agreed to reform their reception practice (assuming that they buy everything too)..that would be $200,000 – $350,000 of found money.

    Some may view this shift by noting that I’m suggesting that staff would “pay” to participate by actually donating a dish, plastic flatware (or perhaps we could stop using plastics?), etc.

    Yes. That is what I’m saying. For anyone experiencing automatic resistance to spending money and offering your time to staff I’m curious to hear specifically about your reactions…Additionally, here is an economics approach to the logic behind the value of your $10:

    If there are 7 staff at a level 1. Each donates $10 worth of supplies for a total of $70. The real donation of $70 is actually worth $200 – $300 , aka the amount not spent by the center. In other words, for ever $1 you spend as staff you generate at least $2.85 in money donated to SI. That’s a pretty awesome return to SI.

    Most importantly, the local centers would not lose any money that was not already in the budget to spend…it would merely be going to SI rather than to receptions for levels 1 – 5.

    Maybe $10 per person is not realistic…but seeing that we can buy lots of vegetables for $10, I bet we could really offer a feast with $70 of veggies! Water is still free so fun water infusions would only be the price of veggies.

    One center at a time, Mandala-wide:
    If one center offers about 10 such levels a year and donate $200 – $350 to SI after each level, that’s anywhere from $2000 – $3500 annually of potentially found money.

    If 100 centers offered similar training schedules…that would be $200,000 – $350,000 of found money.

    It isn’t a way to fast money, but it sure seems like stable money. I’d be interested to hear from others as to whether or not your centers also buy everything or if perhaps other centers are already saving resources and money by utilizing other reception strategies.

    Raising money collectively, one broccoli at a time.

  104. Since this forum was initiated, there has been quite a bit of discussion (e-mails to members, articles in Shambhala Times and the Shambhala Int’l websites, etc.) about the release of the book Running with the Mind of Meditation. Several folks on this forum have asked where the profits will be directed. In the midst of a financial “crisis”, this seems to be a reasonable and innocent question. Nevertheless, there has been no answer to this question. Why is this so difficult? I guess that question is off limits. Oh well. So much for transparency and open dialogue.

  105. The great world is dying…but this truth isn’t even allowed to form as a thought at all. As soon as the thought begins to form we make a loud noise of some kind as a diversionary tactic. We call this positive thinking and looking on the bright side, and we secretly hope for a miracle…

    Most of us haven’t even really come to terms that inevitably we may at any moment drop dead. We keep that truth hidden in the back of our minds out of dread. The truth is simply unthinkable. But even so, the truth remains in the back of our minds, and we keep hoping for a miracle…

  106. KISS! Keep It Simple Shambhala!

    1. Messages need to be clearly stated and short. If I want more information, I can click on a link. It an announcement is too wordy, I tend to not finish due to time constraints.
    2. It never hurts to ask. Be specific as to what is needed and the reason.
    3. Some can give at the time, and some just can’t. Then situations change.
    4. Giving is a little word at the bottom of the home page; make it more obvious.
    5. Publish quarterly reports.
    6. Give an operating budget for a new initiative.
    7. Set a suggested membership donation
    8. Consider a top down dues structure. Give an amount to international that has a percentage that goes to the region and then the local center.
    9. Some can give money. Some have little money but can give time. Other’s are able to generously give both time and money.
    10. Don’t stop dreaming and be creative!

  107. A few little suggestions that would make a big difference to this donor, at least:

    1. Make it easy to donate, not complicated.
    The email from the Kalapa Council requesting donations contained a link to make donating quick and simple–or so it seemed. But that link opened onto pages of information that many people might not want to read. (The email already made a request, and probably many people clicking on the link already had an intention to give.). It took far too long to find the actual donation link–which it turned out was buried on another page.

    The whole process was exhausting and time-consuming, and gave the impression that the donation campaign had not been thought through from beginning to end, at least not from the perspective of those making the donations.

    2. Provide an immediate, printable acknowledgement of donation, not just a thank you.
    After completing the donation transaction, a nicely worded thank you and lovely picture popped up–but no confirmation containing the details of the transaction. All reputable businesses provide a printable receipt/confirmation automatically in response to donations. This assures the donor that their payment has been received properly.

    3. Follow through with invitations and promises.
    In the Kalapa Council email and again twice on the blog itself, there were flowery words inviting readers to make and read comments. But at least on the first day when I donated, at the end of the blog there was only the comment, “Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.”

    4. When asking for donations, don’t spend money on things people may not want.
    The Kalapa Council email stated that everyone was being sent a gift of the water dragon drawing done by President Reoch. Please consider the cost of printing and mailing to the whole sangha.

    Certainly, many people would love to receive a print of a calligraphy by the Sakyong (even a postcard image would be wonderful), if that is appropriate to suggest. That would be a gift of dharma and art together.

  108. “We have enough funds to last until the middle or end of May. After that, we will be unable to meet our monthly expenses unless we take other immediate measures.”

    Well, it’s just about the end of May, certainly beyond the middle. Any further update? No. Any meaningful response as to direction? No. Any specific response with respect to the many suggestions posted here? No. Anything further on the “crisis” at the SI website or in Shambhala Times? No. What does this silence say about credibility? Nothing, just business as usual. Stay tuned for the next appeal.

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