Raising funds for Transition

On Friday, September 25th, several people active in Transition initiatives participated in a conference call to discuss funding issues for Transition. Participants included Transition US executive director Carolyne Stayton, Judith Katz, Linda Ellinor, Kit Miller, Niels-Michael Langenborg, and me.

The need for funds at this time centers around the desire to develop and manage better training options, including adapting Transition training to US audiences and also to different demographics. Also, local initiatives could benefit from more support and infrastructure, help with fundraising efforts, and more staffers at Transition US and locally.

Now this isn’t news to anyone, but the choices we make regarding funding, innocuous or inevitable as they might seem when viewed individually, in fact form the very bedrock of our organization. Thus clear guidelines, best practices, and the daily example of frank, thorough, and brave soul-searching on the Transition Culture website are essential.

Trying to come up with innovative and effective funding ideas is fun, but hard! We are all aware that local charities are impacted by the economic downturn. On the other hand, Transition is now a recognized movement, aimed at the most pressing concerns of our time, and able to work collaboratively with community institutions.

Some organizations are coming forward with grants, and we definitely have shared objectives with others, such as BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies).

The micro-loan model might be another idea. Initiatives could maintain a list of local food, or sustainable housing projects needing startup funds, to match with local donors/lenders.

A national fundraising campaign could focus on “adopting” local initiatives. Funds might be shared with Transition US.

The group’s best ideas seemed to come when trying to solve two problems with a single effort: Kit suggested asking that instead of a birthday/holiday gift, one’s friends and relatives be asked to donate directly to Transition US, or the local Transition initiative.

My personal interest would be to involve non-wealthy individuals and to branch out from the model of “donations”. Many of us have money in the bank, or in retirement funds, but do not feel wealthy enough to part with significant amounts of it. But we may dislike the fact that (if the money is not under the mattress) it gets “put to work” by the bank in ways we would actively oppose.

I’d love to switch to a sort of “Transition Bank”. I make a deposit, which I can withdraw after some time. Meanwhile, Transition “makes use” of my money for Transition purposes. If all goes well, I even have a future in which to use my money.    Since I understand that money doesn’t “grow” indefinitely on a finite planet, earning “interest” would not be my goal. Or rather, my interest would be the growth of Transition.

We also discussed having membership fees. Or maybe we could merge the ideas and have a membership “Transition co-op” share, which can be returned if you change your mind and no longer want to work on Transition.

As Transition grows, local initiatives could charge a fee to organizations that offer relevant products for the use of its mailing (or e-mail) list, or for help in planning and publicizing workshops. This can be done in a way that results in a win-win model. The key is transparency and ongoing communication.

Another idea comes to mind concerning retirement savings. It turns out that one can use IRA funds to buy a piece of land, and can even join a group to buy land jointly (http://michaelemilio.com/how-to-buy-real-estate-using-an-ira/). I am sure this is complicated, but I certainly have been interested in doing something with my retirement fund which would fit with my values and my understanding of our economy (without costing me penalties). Could Transition help set this up and charge a fee for it?

The issue we did not raise directly in the call is that of how “control” gets established in the form of funding. This is the place where I am reminded that “the end” has never, in my mind, justified “the means”. On the contrary, the best description I can find is that the means ARE the end.

Happy fundraising!


wspademan wrote 10 years 40 weeks ago

a Transition Bank

 Common Good Banks are designed to promote and fund exactly the sort of community discussions and initiatives that are at the heart of Transition Towns.

This is not an immediate solution (Common Good Banks do not exist yet), but the Transition movement will still be vitally important a year from now and Common Good Banks could provide the crucial funding. Meanwhile, these two organizations should team up to promote together a joint solution that includes both the focused planning of Transition Towns and the funding power of Common Good Banks.

Paige wrote 10 years 41 weeks ago

Re: Raising funds for Transition

Pertaining to the Republican party, employers offering a 401(k) plan may make matching or non-elective contributions to the plan on behalf of eligible employees and may also add a profit-sharing feature to the plan. Since most people are aware that everyone is making less money than they used to and Social Security isn't a reliable option, what to do about retirement funds? Well, lately a lot of people are thinking of financing 401(k) contributions, or to other retirement funds, or to start an account for college funds for the kids? Well, it's a tough call. The kids can always get financial aid, or scholarships, (or jobs) and your retirement account is absolutely essential. That said, both ideas are noble enterprises, but it can sure be a real quandary – whether to use personal loans to contribute to retirement funds, or college funds for the kids.

judithkitty wrote 10 years 44 weeks ago

Transition Bank

What I would really like to do is open people's hearts so that they would be happier living with less. Radically less.

I like Mytro's idea about a “Transition Bank”. I don't see this as totally incompatible with a fundraising perspective, because a donor may find that funding the Transition will both meet their own needs, as well as the needs of others.

Thanks for including me on this conversation.

Judith Katz


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