By Karen McAllister
I wonder what comes up for you when asked that question? Maybe you respond, “Of course, our non-profit is still a business!” Or maybe instead, “Spiritual values are important. I don’t like to think about money.” There are so many possible responses. Imagine for a moment that an entire range of beliefs and opinions are running through your team, all unspoken, and playing out in your organisation in a myriad of ways. How does this impact our ability to serve the transformation of consciousness?
Cleaning up your Center’s relationship to Money
A lot has been written about science and non duality beginning to speak to each other. Quantum physics blew a lot of scientists long-held view out of the water, that if you cannot measure it, then it does not exist. The main teaching of quantum physics is that things are in constant flux, and there is no such thing as a permanent, unchanging self.
My teacher’s teacher, Namgyal Rinpoche said in the 70s, “In the future, the quantum leap will lift all those who desire to be uplifted. The quantum leap means that the vibrations sent out from like consciousnesses will draw us together on a scale hitherto unknown, in order to collectively leap out of our conceptual hypnosis and darkness into a new space, both inner and outer. It is in a state of love that we will make this quantum leap together.
Many holistic centers are beginning to realise more fully the role they play in the collective leap out of our conceptual hypnosis and darkness in the world today. Holistic centers have been drawing together more and more, to gather strength to make this leap out of the darkness. I am deeply grateful to have Clear Sky be a part of the Holistic Centers Network.
Stating the Issue
And yet, from personal experience of working with spiritual explorers and meditation centers and transformational learning centers, the money conversation is still a taboo subject.
Over my 12 years as Director of Fund Development and Mindful Money Coach, I have heard many similar stories of dysfunction around money. Many people have a lot of shame around money. In my experience, many spiritual explorers have a fear of being inauthentic to their mission if they embrace money and engage with it fully. In some ways, they fear they will sell out on their values. So, many dissociate it from it. Is any of this reminiscent of your own experience?
There is also a tendency to outsource this whole area to the Finance department or the Fund Development portfolio. It is a subtle move that has a huge impact on the ability of the organisation to garnish resources to thrive rather than simply survive. Lynne Twist teaches a wonderful phrase in her workshops, ‘It is important for an organisation to stand in the view that we meet needs not have needs.’
Yes, we have needs but when you place the horse (the mission) in front of the needs of the center, then the resources come more easily. However, if an organisation hasn’t cleaned up its relationship with money, then a subtle undercurrent of neediness and poverty mentality can exist, blocking the mission, that all those meeting the organisation will sense and feel.
How can this play out?
When an organisation hasn’t cleaned up their relationship with money;
- There can be a focus on balancing budgets and cutting costs instead of increasing revenue streams. A focus on the pragmatic without dreaming into the bigger vision as well. And there tends to be little support for those bringing in the revenue;
- There is a tendency for management and staff to not take responsibility around doing the numbers for their particular area or projected revenue plans, or not taking the time to understand the numbers offered;
- The monthly donor program participants can start falling steadily or never really gain momentum when launched;
- There can be a lack of attention to tracking the numbers – not inputting the accurate data to generate the right report, which leads to a lack of accountability around results;
- A problem arises and the board and management address it. Then some time later, maybe a week, a month or even a year later the same problem arises again. And it continues this way.
The Parable of the Frog
In organisational learning circles, people talk about the parable of the boiled frog. If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out to save itself. However, if you put it in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will swim around until it boils to death. Research has shown that our brains have wired money to the animal and emotional brain, which means when it comes to conversations around money, it is designed to detect sudden, large shifts in temperature, not small, gradual changes. So, it never senses the danger in the latter until it’s too late to respond.
The detection of small, gradual changes rests under the guidance and leadership of our chief financial officer, which is in our newest brain, called the neocortex. However, this is our slowest brain. The other two have already jumped in and reacted before our neocortex has got out of bed.
Peter Senge points out in The Fifth Discipline, ‘Many organizations suffer from the same learning disability as the frog’. I believe this is also true of meditation and learning centers. Their internal detection mechanisms are geared for responding to quick, dramatic changes in their environment, rather than to slow, incremental ones. In my experience, meditation and learning centers sound alarm bells if they experience a sudden drop in monthly donors or the loss of one major donor. In contrast, they quietly adapt to an annual erosion over 10 years of their monthly donor program, for example, without recognizing this slow downward spiral as a crisis.
Steps of advice, insight or instruction
Kumaresh was the Board Director of Fund Development for a holistic center. His board was a working board. This meant that they were responsible for donor care of their monthly donor program, making requests for large donations and asking members to join their legacy program. There had been a gradual decrease in the numbers of monthly donors over the last few years. Kumaresh felt he understood his board didn’t like asking for money.
He prepared a few sessions on making an ask and brought in a fundraising consultant to educate and give support to the board. Everyone turned up somewhat reluctantly. By the end of the year, there was still no increase in donors in any of the programs. Except the ones that Kumaresh made himself. He felt he was wasting his time, and yet all the literature he read was about board buy-in. There were also a tense relationships between the Board and management. The managers didn’t feel like they were being supported in their revenue ideas, and felt push-back from the board on new ideas.
Kumaresh discovered money coaching and suggested the board and management do this. This provided a safe forum to discover their beliefs around money. Many of the views about money had never been discussed. Identifying views we never thought we had is truly an awesome and liberating moment, even more so when you find out that your colleagues share similar views too.
Identifying the unconscious, limiting views that are behind the reliance on one big donor or the struggle with getting board buy-in to taking an active role in attracting more donors is the start of supporting our CFO (the neocortex) – this then creates organisational internal detection mechanisms geared for responding to slow, incremental changes in our center’s environment.
Each member learns a new archetypal language around money that allows them to raise the small but significant issues that are leading to a possible crisis down the road. It has the power to take down the walls of defences that we build around our relationship with money in ourselves and with our colleagues.
Working for a holistic center implies that we have done a lot of work on ourselves. Most of the people I have worked with have. And yet, having worked with over 100 spiritual explorers and holistic centers, it’s time to have us radiant and functional in our relationship with money. Imagine our potential with money as an ally and the funds to fully express our mission in the world.
Healing our Relationship with Money
At its root, money is a representation of value, worth and energy. Our relationship with money mirrors our relationship to life itself. Through our relationship to money, we see the truth about deeply personal beliefs around self-worth, love and kindness, and faith in ourselves and in our holistic centers. The process of healing our relationship with money is a spiritual pursuit, it is the process of becoming more compassionate, more forgiving, more generous and more trusting.
The calling is urgent and important so that we can more fully respond to the crises of these times. If this article strikes a chord in you, you might be interested in joining HCN’s Financial Freedom for Holistic Centers online course commencing March 2nd.
Discover tools and gain insights as we embrace the opportunity to model the change so deeply needed. Find a new language around money that can bring joy and lightness and be incredibly effective too.