Stepping into What I Hated

I hated economics in college, yet most of my adult life has been diving deeply into money, class and economic justice.

I hate fundraising, yet I have been part of Be Present, Inc.’s fundraising team for twelve years.

Though I entered this field kicking and screaming, I’ve discovered that working with money offers an exquisite doorway to spiritual transformation and that addressing all aspects of fundraising can take the lead in social justice. While “economics” and “fundraising” sounded dull, spiritual transformation and social justice made my heart sing. The draw has been strong enough that I’ve continued this exploration of the intersection of money and faith for over thirty years.

Below is a distillation of Be Present’s Vision-Based, Social Change Fund Development philosophy, where we work to expand the boundaries of philanthropy while building a social justice movement sustained by trust, mutual respect and equality.

Even if you are disinterested in philanthropy as a subject, I hope that this perspective gives you hope in these times when money is at the heart of so much darkness.


Be Present, Inc. believes that philanthropy can take the lead in the journey for social change. Our fundraising is vision based; we begin and end with our vision in mind. This vision is guided by four core values: Grassroots democracy; Diversity; Equality and Inclusion; Personal and Global Responsibility.

We develop our fundraising strategy to be in alignment with these values, and then bring together the resources – people, time and money – to make the vision a reality. We believe that collaborative learning, transformative leadership and building effective relationships is what leads to sustainable fundraising. Therefore, everyone who participates in the network financially invests in our work together, supported by the Board’s Vision-Based Social Change Fund Development Team.

Social Change

Access to resources shapes social movements in the U.S. These resources – time, labor, and particularly money – are vital to organizational survival and political success. Exploring who gives, how they give, and the effects of the giving have an impact on effecting sustainable justice and therefore are important political questions to address. The Be Present Vision-Based Social Change Fund Development Model is based on the core principles that raising money is political and that all people from all backgrounds are contributors to and benefit from the work of social justice.

Illustration by Khara Scott-BeyBe Present’s guiding principle is that philanthropy’s success is measured not only by where money is given, but also the process by which it is given. We commit to raising while using the Be Present Empowerment Model® to examine the dynamics of race, class, gender and power that influence fundraising and giving practices.

Be Present has a commitment to work with diverse individuals and organizations. Not willing to allow the ability to pay the full price be the deciding factor of who can access our services, we offer a sliding payment scale. To simultaneously thrive so we can continue to support the social change movement, Be Present has developed both a detailed budged for the actual costs of offering the trainings/consultancies and a multi-pronged, collaborative funding stream.

First, we ask individuals/organizations to pay at the highest rate they comfortably can. Second, we offer support to people/organizations to envision a fundraising plan to help raise funds to cover the costs. Third, the giving and fundraising by those in the Be Present network and our financial supporters are focused on ensuring that the diversity and inclusivity that weave through our mission and vision are reflected in all aspects of our work.

The Vision-Based Social Change Fund Development Team has compelling monthly dialogues to develop skills in building long-lasting, thriving relationships; bringing more of one’s whole self into their giving; addressing money and privilege dynamics in relationships; understanding giving practices of diverse communities; and promoting innovative, sensitive and respectful philanthropic practices.

Fund development

Fund development is the process by which Be Present uses fundraising (and other revenue-generating vehicles) to build capacity and sustainability. The focus is on expanding and further diversifying Be Present, Inc.’s funding sources—from fundraising efforts, fee-for-services (consulting contracts and training registration fees) and merchandise sales.

While fundraising itself still isn’t my favorite activity, I love the doors it opens to a transformation of our spirit and our relationship with our global human family.