Early in the year I had an intuition that this would be the year to learn how to do money with an organization in a new way. And for that to happen, I had to go through my own money process. While I expect that I will continue to learn so many lessons around money, I have also received some important clarity about how money works within WisdomWomen and this is something I want to share with you.
When I left Wisdom 2.0 in March of 2015, I had a savings to live from, and figured it would be a few months before the organization might start bringing in money. After 6 months of not making any money, I decided it was time to approach foundations that I had good relationships with from my days at Wisdom 2.0. I had two great meetings with separate foundations and was feeling hopeful about the outcomes. Then, I received their responses, and on both accounts, I was told they cared for this work and me, but didn’t feel it was the right time to fund.
I felt afraid, rejected and unseen. Within a few hours of receiving that second email, I had an important realization. It was that had I actually taken their money, neither I, nor the organization of WisdomWomen was strong enough at that time to resist direction from such powerful and influential forces. I would have given in to these external forces instead of continuing to birth this movement in this unique and emergent way. I realized the importance of continuing to live off of my savings to keep the birthing process pure and protected from outside influence. Particularly after our election, I am very aware of how money influences people and decisions that should be made on behalf of the whole.
It was clear to me from the start that WisdomWomen was non-traditional; neither a for-profit nor a not-for-profit organization. It didn’t work to receive foundation funding and I didn’t want to move towards a traditional investor model. It didn’t feel like anybody ‘owned’ or should ‘own’ WisdomWomen. To me, She is her own sovereign entity.
It has now been close to two years that I have been living primarily off my savings to work full-time on WisdomWomen. I paid myself $3,500 from last year’s gathering at Esalen and have not paid myself since. On December 31st of this year I will have spent the $60,000 of savings that I have been frugally living off for almost two years, and will zero out my bank account. My husband has agreed to partake in a Zero Account Balance celebration with me on that night. Why celebrate? For me, this is an important and symbolic step in clearing out the money that I made through my past work endeavors. I am so grateful for that money and that I had work that helped me save to start WisdomWomen. But once 2017 begins, I will begin to pay myself from the WisdomWomen bank account. My hope is that WisdomWomen and all of my future soul work will sustain me. That is something I hope for myself and for each of us in this community ~ to be paid by doing our soul work. The step of zeroing out feels edgy, but right and ceremonial for me.
After all of my journeying with money, I have created a ‘contract’ for myself with WisdomWomen. Many of us will go above and beyond to contribute to this movement and I want each of us to feel good about our contributions and clear about how finances are set up. Here it is:
- Everyone will pay for membership, including myself and anyone who works for WisdomWomen (as long as we want to engage as members while working for the organization).
- WisdomWomen will not be indebted to me for the money I spent to found this organization. Since many of us do, have and will continue to give our unpaid time to WisdomWomen, it ultimately did not feel fair to pay myself back for my time. It also felt in the best interest to not have this debt in order for WisdomWomen to thrive.
- Our priority is that the people who have jobs to make the organization function are the ones who are paid. I hope someday to pay myself a good and fair salary for my job and I hope for the same for anybody else who works for this organization. It might take time to get there but I will not be given back pay for the unpaid work I have done, nor will my unpaid time result in a traditional form of equity.
- Should WisdomWomen come to a stage of making a profit, the vision is to put the profits into the Collaboratory Fund, which will re-invest into the collectively-focused initiatives co-created by our community members. Should we get to that point, as a Founder benefit, I may receive some percentage of this Fund to put towards my collectively-oriented initiatives, as long as they are in alignment with the guidelines of how projects are funded under this umbrella.
After riding the waves of the unknown for so long with WisdomWomen, I am fully aware that things will shift and not necessarily happen the way I think or hope they will. The truth is that I don’t know what I will receive from WisdomWomen in the end. That being said, it felt important for me to state my vision and my intentions for money within WisdomWomen at this stage. I want to be transparent about the monetary foundation of WisdomWomen and I hope this foundation will carry this movement forward with integrity and strength.
I experience that WisdomWomen gives so much more than monetary reciprocity. Most importantly, I have received an opportunity to follow the path of my soul. And, I have grown a greater trust in Life rather than relying on a sense of security from money. That to me is priceless.
Thank you for your continued monetary and non-monetary contributions to this movement.