By Kelly Boehms
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to attend the biennial GIFT (Grassroots Fundraising Institute for Training) conference in Atlanta. I was blown away by the power and dedication that so many organizers bring to this work. Seeing folks from groups representing youth, racial justice, LGBTQIA, immigrant rights, and indigenous organizing efforts from across the country affirm the power in owning our resources and mobilizing our communities was incredibly inspiring. I think most organizers know the power of money in our movements, and most of us understand that the more we can find ways to fundraise in our own communities, the greater power we have to act. This conference affirmed that community resource mobilization is not only the key to organizing, but also critical to our moral mission.
In my early days at Faith In Action, I was taught that true and lasting social change would only come through meaningful and intentional relationships. I’m learning now that grassroots fundraising, or donor organizing, is all about relationships. Grassroots fundraising is about resilience and owning resources. This work is about inviting people in, and giving those most impacted by our broken political system influence and power in our organizations.
It’s time to build a base of support for and from our communities at Faith in Action. In 2016 we launched an effort called Together We Give. Network staff, leaders, and board members came together to ask their families, friends, congregations, and colleagues to support our work with “freedom funds.” Hundreds of people across the country answered the call and donated almost $70,000 to our federations! In 2017, the momentum grew and we were able to raise more than $100,000 and bring in nearly 800 new donors. I’m thrilled to see what we can accomplish in 2018.
Recently, a colleague asked the question, “What do we need, as Faith in Action, to build our house of dreams?” To me, the answer is clear: We need the brilliance of our communities to design and lead this work, and we need resources to mobilize our people. Money that comes from individuals gives us the power to strategize for lasting racial, economic and social justice, and it gives us the power to respond when our communities are in crisis. Donors helped us send people and resources to Standing Rock to resist the Dakota Access pipeline, and to San Ysidro so that children in detention centers could know that we are working to reunite them with their families. Most importantly, individual donors allow us to own our movements!
Kelly Boehms is the Individual Giving Coordinator for Faith In Action.