3.22 Brecht Forum Conference Report Back

By Ryan Li Dahlstrom

I recently returned from New York City after attending the Brecht Forum’s Grassroots Fundraising Conference. GIFT had the honor and privilege of collaborating with FIERCE staff and members (Ash, Azriel, and Laurene) in co-developing a workshop titled “Dealing with the “-isms” as We Build Resources for our Movements”.

You know and I know that we as folks of color face a lot of challenges in fundraising and mobilizing resources for our movements. I mean, when’s the last time you had an empowering experience around money, race, and class as a person of color in fundraising? Which is why this space at the conference was so great! We reflected on our experiences, built connections with one another, and shared ideas on how to support and sustain ourselves in this work.

A lot of great ideas came out about how we can create and build resource-sharing communities and networks beyond money. Some ideas were: sharing office and meeting room space, sharing kitchens and meals, sharing transportation and bus rentals for attending large rallies or actions that require travel, skill-sharing listservs, sharing curricula, and collective fundraising for multiple organizations. We also talked about finding ways to create more spaces like this workshop where we can talk, share, and build with each other.

As a result of the workshop, many of the New York-based groups expressed interest in meeting more regularly to build relationships and discuss issues that they’re facing as grassroots fundraisers of color. We strongly support that!

We do this in the Bay Area with social justice fundraisers: sharing facilitation of monthly brown bag discussions on a variety of grassroots fundraising topics. (To find out when these brown bags are happening, click here to join the Google Group.) We use this space to build relationships, share ideas /strategies/lessons learned, and develop stronger connections between organizations, issue areas, and communities. If this is something you’d like to start in your city, email me at ryanli[at]grassrootsfundraising.org and I’m happy to share some ideas.

It felt really exciting and powerful to be part of a POC-space talking about how we can move out of the isolation and burn-out we experience as POC/young folks/LGBTQ folks/low-income folks to a place of solidarity and strength in building resources for our movements – sustaining ourselves and our communities along the way.

Let’s keep building and imagining models for how we can do this together! After all, our communities and families have been creatively gathering and sharing resources with one another since well before non-profits existed. And, like our ancestors, many of us still provide for one another in these ways, both within and outside of our organizations.