When I opened the email informing me I was granted a scholarship to attend the Loving Work Foundation’s 2019 retreat, I was filled with an uncontainable joy that physically thrust me out of the building I work in to release a simultaneous cry/laugh/whoop that I knew the river could handle but my co-workers would find… disruptive. Gratitude burst from my being in every direction; I was going to Viet Nam, to travel in Sangha, and granted the opportunity to take part in an ongoing offering of peace and restoration in the aftermath of the American War.
As I began to read through the materials of how I would need to prepare for this journey, I felt a bit uncomfortable by the expectation of raising a minimum of $400 for the affiliated organizations LWF supports. My challenge lay not in the quantity asked, but in the perceived discomfort I had with actually asking my friends, family, sangha, and community. A myriad of insecurities raced through my head and I could feel the nervousness in my body. “Why would someone want to support children on the other side of the world when there are so many in need right here in our country?” “What if no one donates?” “What do I owe others when they DO donate?” “Maybe I can just pay it myself, I did receive the scholarship.”
All these insecurities made one thing clear: I have plenty of work to do around generosity. The energy exchange of generosity contains so many elements. Even before the transaction occurs, there’s the ASKING. I felt I had plenty to unpack there, even before I addressed the aspects of giving and receiving. I was beginning to see deeply the layer of lessons contained in the practice of asking for dana, receiving dana, and on the other side of giving dana.
I reached out to a few friends that have been public voices and were familiar with fundraising in various ways who offered me a wonderful reframing and reassurance to my biggest challenge with the ‘asking’. I began to see my role as merely a conduit for others’ great need for generosity. I was constructing a channel, an outlet, for others’ inclination to give, and the results or outcome were not mine to control, not my responsibility. My asking was actually a gift in itself.
I decided to use a fundraising platform that would reach many people in a non-intrusive way. This is where my adventures with GoFundMe began! I contacted Trish from LWF to see if she was on board with this new way of collecting dana, as she would have to register with the company. After many global email exchanges, it was a success! This means that GoFundMe is now easily available for future retreatants to utilize with a few clicks!
GoFundMe turned out to be a really joyful way for me to share the story of my journey to Viet Nam, upload pictures, and keep those interested informed. To my surprise, 75% of my donors were of my larger community outside the sangha! Within 2 days I had reached the $400 goal and within weeks I had collected many times over. I was taken aback at how quickly my social network online responded and supported my efforts. My fears about asking for dana transformed into vibrant gratitude and joy that so many came out of the woodwork in offering. I could see that people were almost waiting for an opportunity to support each other; we all felt really good about contributing to both the local and global community simultaneously.
Here’s how I did it:
Go to GoFundMe.com and click Start a GoFundMe
Follow the Instructions to sign up and it will lead you step-by step.
Choose Nonprofit organization, and when it asks type “Loving Work Foundation”
Add pictures (I took some from the LWF website and FB since I hadn’t been on the retreat before)
Add a Story- people were really inspired after reading what I wrote. This is what made it real and close to home, what touched them and why they wanted to get involved. You’re welcome to look at my campaign as a reference and use the format to assist in writing your story: https://www.gofundme.com/lovingworkfoundationVietnam
Disperse your campaign through email and social media. I used Facebook and Instagram
Enjoy the connection with your community!
The donations are directly deposited into LWF account, so there is no hassle there. I choose to keep track of everyone and send a beautiful Vietnamese card and put on a picture presentation with some Vietnamese cuisine when I returned to continue the sharing. But I also saw that everyone was happy to simply donate and the extra was really done out of the emanating gratitude-glow post-retreat.
Asking my community for support was one of the many great fruits I received from my journey with LWF. Not letting my fears and insecurities keep me from reaching out actually brought me closer with many here at home, an unanticipated growth. Whether using the internet itself or if asking for support bubbles up discomfort in you, I urge you to tap into your inner adventurer and go someplace new- you’ll likely be surprised at what you find.
~CALLISTA GREB, Abiding Practice of the Heart