Gandhi, Fund-raising, And Financial Sustainability

Posted by Birju Pandya on Feb 1, 2013
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Last week at a meditation gathering we had a group member who shared a bit about Gandhiji's approach to money and fundraising.  This is something that hasn't really gotten much publicity: money was needed to help get things done in the movement, but that process is rarely discussed.  
Clearly Gandhiji had something that attracted money and attention towards him.  Apparently, in the early days that 'fundraising' was actually channeled towards an endowment.  The idea was to use the funds to fuel activities towards swaraj.  However, this was quickly dissolved as Gandhiji started diving deeper into the concept of money, debt and interest.  What started as an endowment plan became a simple 1 year statement: whatever was donated was used by the end of the year.  The lessons of having zero carry-over are quite deep. First, one must earn ones keep anew constantly while balancing truth such that values are not compromised.  Second, one is consciously minimizing the use of financial capital as fuel while simultaneously building other sources of communal wealth.  Third, one is reducing the disconnection in the system such that funds are not 'invested/lended' or 'spent' in projects that are counter to the mission.  It is a movement towards holism.  
I'd love to learn more about where funds came from if that is possible - to what extent were there 'wealthy patrons' behind the scenes vs 'everyday heroes' in terms of total amounts given.  Regardless, it seems that there was no 'fundraising strategy' with targets to cultivate, which is something I see a lot of in my world!  

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Comments (7)

  • Sheetal wrote ...

    Thought provoking!!

  • Janis Daddona wrote ...

    I'd like to hear more about this too! Keep us posted.

  • Mia wrote ...

    SO interesting. Thanks for sharing, Birju :)

  • Mia Tagano wrote ...

    Yes, please do!

  • Audrey wrote ...

    really interesting to think about... thank you for sharing!

  • Smita wrote ...

    Very interesting..thanks for sharing!

  • Lavanya wrote ...

    Great food for thought, Birju! I loved the 1 year statement - no hoarding, and regularly practicing letting go! Pallavi - lovely stories :) My grandfather too was a freedom fighter and a satyagrahi. He had 'shoot at sight' orders placed against him for participating in the freedom movement; so he would be in hiding a lot of the time. This caused great trouble to his family, which was ill-treated by the police to reveal his whereabouts. I always wondered how much power Gandhiji's call had, that people far down the chain, like my grandfather, stayed true to the cause in spite of great threat to their lives. Money, loyalty, all were part of this movement towards truth and freedom.