Unified Giving

Unified Giving is about recognizing the interdependence of all parts of our global Shambhala community and designing a new funding structure that expresses and supports that reality.

There are thousands of members and friends of Shambhala on six continents. Our mandala includes the Sakyong, online communities, more than 200 Shambhala centres and groups, as well as individual members, located in major cities, towns, and in rural settings in over 50 different countries.

enzoThe “Unified” in Unified Giving is about making the interdependence of all parts of our mandala more palpable to everyone who participates in Shambhala. For instance, our centres around the world can offer courses because there is a centrally developed curriculum and teacher training. Delivering these courses depends on local volunteers who make it possible.  In this way, the global and the local work together.

The “Giving” in Unified Giving addresses how we financially support all parts of the Shambhala mandala. We are replacing our previous competitive funding system with a financial structure that will eventually allow a single stream of donations and centre revenue-sharing to support all parts of the global community. Unified Giving addresses programme prices, generosity, and membership, to bring all of our centres and groups together in a more consistent approach to our funding. As Unified Giving strengthens our overall financial stability, we will no longer need to rely on central fundraising for the work of the Sakyong and Shambhala’s central services each year.

In order to provide the Shambhala Community with a clear assessment of the overall financial health of the mandala and convey the need for and role of a unified funding approach, in June 2013 the Kalapa Envoy for Enrichment, Mr. Robert Reichner, drew up a report to be used for that purpose.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the timeline for implementing Unified Giving?
What is the financial goal of Unified Giving?
How many fundraisers might we expect in 2014, as Unified Giving takes effect?
Why is Unified Giving the method of choice?
Does “Unified Giving” mean we are building a more centralized system?
Will Unified Giving meet all our financial challenges?
How will we help centres strengthen or increase their own revenues and membership?
How are small groups participating in Unified Giving?
Don’t they have a unified system in Europe? How is that going?
I currently make direct donations to the centre of the mandala. How do my donations contribute to Unified Giving?
What if I would like to stop my direct donations to the centre of the mandala, and have my local donations support both the central and local administrations?
How does Unified Giving affect my donations to the Ladrang, Nalanda Translation and other entities?
Is Unified Giving the same as the old Planned Annual Giving (PAG)?

What is the timeline for implementing Unified Giving?

We are currently completing the first phase of implementation (as of May 2014). How the subsequent phases develop will then vary by centre because the full implementation of Unified Giving will be mainly determined at the local level:

  • Phase 1 Tiger (complete): This phase is an inquisitive phase– taking a friendly look at where each centre is now, and exploring what steps might be taken next in terms of our understanding and expression of being part of a global mandala bound by an energetic centre, pricing and membership practices, and current financial contributions to the centre of the mandala.
  • Phase 2 Lion (complete): Together we look further into our global membership practices and policy. This may require us to take a leap—thinking beyond the way we have been operating and beginning to manifest a mandala- oriented approach. This phase is about joyful participation in service to the mandala, and the discipline of sticking with the process.
  • Phase 3 Garuda (spring-fall 2015): We begin to work with the outcomes of the membership review process and related best practices, best practices for revenue growth, and to transition Centre of the Mandala donors to Unified Giving. In this phase, we’ve left the old ground of our previous fractured mandala and funding model. We have a better view of the full mandala terrain, and fearlessly exert ourselves to accomplish this.
  • Phase 4 Dragon (2015): Having engaged in a gradual process of exploring with gentleness, leaping with discipline, and viewing the whole terrain, we develop further wisdom, confidence and power as a mandala. The Dragon Phase of Unified Giving includes full implementation, with unified giving in place. We will have created the conditions to invite more people and resources into the mandala, opening up possibilities we are not able to imagine at present. This level of financial stability and confidence in our capacity will allow Shambhala to play in the world.

We estimate that the full introduction of the model will take at least two years.
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What is the financial goal of Unified Giving?

The way the financial aspect of the Unified Giving Model will work is that a portion of every program participant’s fees and every member’s dues will go to support the centre of the mandala.  As the centres grow, the revenue for the centre of the mandala will automatically grow as well.

The goal is that once the Unified Giving Model is fully implemented, the centre of the mandala will no longer have to fundraise for operational expenses.  The revenue sharing from centre program fees and memberships will provide the primary operating revenue for the centre of the  mandala. Eventually we would like to unify giving to the point that all the aspects of the mandala, including the practice centres, are supported by Unified Giving—not just the centre of the mandala.
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When are these repeated fundraising appeals going to stop?

We want to switch over to the new Unified Giving system as rapidly as possible, so that we no longer have to fundraise to cover operational expenses. But we need to take the needs and capacity of local centres into account, as well as the wishes of individual donors who will be switching over to the new method. The full scale of what’s involved is described in Robert Reichner’s report, Choosing our Future. (Robert Reichner is the Kalapa Envoy for Enrichment, appointed by the Sakyong to look at our community’s structural and cultural relationship with money and wealth). The sooner we can accomplish this, the sooner we can end fund-raising appeals to support the operating costs of the central mandala infrastructure.

In 2014, we were able to raise enough funds to support the central operating expenses with only 2 mandala-wide fundraising campaigns (Shambhala Day and Harvest of Peace) – down from 5 campaigns in 2013.

Once Unified Giving is fully implemented, we hope to only need to fundraise centrally for capital campaigns and special projects – not operational expenses. Until then, we will need to continue to raise funds as we have in the past.

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Why is Unified Giving the method of choice?

We are adopting the system used by the vast majority of national and international organizations that have local affiliates. Members and supporters make their donations and pay their dues to their local affiliate. A portion of those donations and dues goes to support the central bodies and services that sustain the whole organization.
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Does “Unified Giving” mean we are building a more centralized system?

No. Unified Giving is a decentralized model, actually. A centralized system would be one where much or all of the money came to the centre, and the centre would determine how to distribute it. It reduces centralized fund-raising. It will build on, and further develop, the decentralized system we currently have that enables people to make meaningful contact with Shambhala in their local area.

The intention is to strengthen our local centres and groups by supporting their growth. Centres will send a portion of their revenue to the centre of the mandala.
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Will Unified Giving meet all our financial challenges?

Unified Giving will meet two immediate needs. First, it will replace the current unworkable system of funding the mandala with a more stable financial model based on the revenues of the local centres. Second, it will start to strengthen the capacity of our local and centres and groups to generate revenue. Since the funding for the Centre of the Mandala will depend on the financial strength of the centres, the entire organization will gain cohesion and unity of focus. Once these goals have been achieved, it will be possible to work on other challenges such as increasing the services needed to support our global mandala.
(This document summarizes the annual mandala-wide budget.)
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How will we help centres strengthen or increase their own revenues and membership?

The Unified Giving leadership group includes two teams focusing on 1) strengthening the view and practice of membership, and 2) business model optimization. The idea is to help strengthen centres so that they grow. Then this growth can be shared.

For a full description of the work and timeline for each of the Unified Giving teams, click here.
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How are small groups participating in Unified Giving?

We have made all of the same resources and best practices available to both Shambhala Centres and Shambhala Groups. We also recognize that Groups have a much wider range of levels of development, size, capacity, etc. than full Centres. So while Centres are being asked to take concrete steps toward the financial and structural recommendations we are introducing, Groups are being invited simply to use whatever is helpful to them. They are also being asked to move toward making a small contribution to support the central services of the mandala (as Centres already do). This approach will facilitate a smooth transition for Groups that eventually wish to become Centres, while also connecting all Groups to the broader mandala in a tangible way.
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Don’t they have a unified system in Europe? How is that going?

Yes. Shambhalians in Europe are members of their local centre or group and pay dues locally. Those dues are a unified gift that supports the person’s local centre or group, Shambhala Europe and the worldwide centre of the mandala. The system itself works well. The challenges they face, particularly since the economic crisis, which had a greater impact in Europe than in North America, are the result of needing a larger volume of funds flowing through the system as a whole. We have listened carefully to the experience in Europe and have taken it into account as we build the system in North America. A major aspect of the Unified Giving project is to increase our support to centres to help them strengthen their overall revenue.
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I currently make direct donations to the centre of the mandala. How do my donations contribute to Unified Giving?

Any money you give–either to your local centre or directly to the centre of the mandala counts towards your centre’s goal of transferring 25% of your centre’s revenue to the centre of the mandala. (Your centre transfers a percentage of membership dues, class fees paid to your local centre, and unrestricted donations. If you make recurring monthly donations directly to the centre of the mandala, or campaign donations to the centre of the mandala (as on Shambhala Day), these are considered part of your centre’s transfer and count into that percentage too.)

So if you are from Boston for example, and you give $1000 directly to the centre of the mandala on Shambhala Day, the Boston Shambhala Centre will receive a notice that $1000 has been given from Boston. This $1000 counts towards Boston’s 25 % transfer payment for the year. And, yes! If you continue giving monthly recurring donations directly to the centre of the mandala, those too will count towards your local centre’s 25%. Whichever way you give, you are supporting your centre’s commitment to meeting its 25% goal. So all of your generosity is supporting your centre and the centre of the mandala.
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What if I would like to stop my direct donations to the centre of the mandala, and have my local donations support both the central and local administrations?

1. If you simply continue your monthly contributions to the centre of the mandala, there is no issue. You don’t have to change anything, and your contributions are automatically counted towards your centre’s 25% transfer. Many have asked for this option.

2. If you switch your monthly donations from the centre of the mandala to the local centre (by adding that amount to the amount you already pay in membership dues), your centre will need to increase their transfer to the centre of the mandala by the same amount in order for the centre of the mandala to receive the same level of support you had been giving).

Although the idea is simple – offering people the opportunity to consolidate their monthly gifts into a single unified gift given locally – the details are actually a bit tricky. We need to coordinate three changes: 1) decrease/stop the centre of the mandala gift, 2) increase the local centre gift, and 3) increase the local centre transfer. So if you choose to do this, please make sure to let your centre know that you are not simply increasing your local recurring gift but actually moving it from where you have been giving, so that they can change their transfer accordingly.

But again, we want to make sure that no matter what the changes are in the way the gifts are made, both the local centre and the centre of the mandala continue to receive at least the same amount–AND…you are happy with the method by which you give.
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How does Unified Giving affect my donations to the Centre of the Mandala, the Ladrang, Nalanda Translation and other entities?

Right now, many of you make separate donations to your local Shambhala Centre or Group, to the centre of the Mandala, and/or to other entities (such as the land centres, the Shambhala Archives, the Ladrang, etc.). We thank you profoundly for your generosity.

The first phases of Unified Giving worked towards strengthening and stabilizing the finances at city centres and at the centre of the mandala (which support the Sakyong’s work and our mandala-wide infrastructure). This will continue to be the case until the flow of revenue through Unified Giving is sufficient that the centre of the mandala no longer has to fundraise to support its operational expenses. At that point, any additional revenue flowing through Unified Giving will go to supporting the land centres and other entities that now fundraise separately.

For these reasons, we ask that you continue directing your donations in the same way that you have up to now—separate donations to all of the entities that you offer to (excepting the centre the mandala – see above for your choices with that). Please do not stop making donations to the land centres, to the Ladrang or any other entity that you are inspired to support at this time—since we are not yet able to support them at this phase of Unified Giving.

If you currently donate directly to the centre of the mandala: we will contact you later on in the year to discuss the transition to Unified Giving.

If you currently donate directly to other entities, including the land centres, the Ladrang (the non-profit supporting the lineage of Sakyongs), the Potrang (directly supporting the Mukpo family) the Shambhala Archives and so on, you will receive a separate message that will give you more information about how the entity(-ies) to which you give on a recurring basis will interface with Unified Giving at a financial level in the future.
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Is Unified Giving the same as the old Planned Annual Giving (PAG)?

PAG was a request to donate to the centre of the mandala, separate from someone’s membership in their local center. So this was essentially what we have been doing all along. The main difference was that with PAG the request was made by someone from the local centre, rather than from the centre of the mandala. As well, PAG was only donations based. Unified Giving includes sharing a portion of programme fees, much of which comes from people who are not members. In that way the new system will be much broader based.
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13 Responses to Unified Giving

  1. diane lookman

    It seems to me, Unified Giving, is to be a straight-forward percentage of the monthly intake of money from each center sent to the center of the mandala.

    a cut
    a take
    a stipend

    there are many ways of describing what just took 20 minutes to read.

    I’m trying to figure out what Unified Giving is, my confusion is not comfortable, and my frustration about why don’t they just come right out and say what they would like, causes me to request an answer about whether or not my understanding is even close to comprehending what you are asking.

    • Anna Weinstein

      Hi Diane – thanks for taking the time to read and digest this information! We agree that it is basically quite a straightforward model where the parts all support the whole and the whole supports the parts. However, since this is a change from how the different areas of the mandala have been connected and funded in the past, we want to make sure that we present enough details for those who are interested.

      We have been speaking in more detail with centre directors and leaders, to clarify exactly what we are asking them to do. For most members, however, Unified Giving will not be a big experiential change. It is simply that a small percentage of your member dues and local programme fees will be given to the centre of the mandala to support the mandalawide infrastructure that supports the local and global activities.

      I hope this helps clarify your question – I’d be happy to speak with you further if it would be helpful!

      • I also wish that the communications would have just cut to the point. All the extra discussion about “support” suggests that the previous approach didn’t quite cut it, that is, not enough money flowing directly to the centre of the mandala from donations. Is 25%, which is the goal of Unified Giving, really a “small percentage” and “not a big experiential change”? If that were the case, then I just wonder what the whole point of the change was. The previous setup really wasn’t confusing at all. Members contribute as they see fit. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

        If the 25% (or whatever) take is necessary, then obviously, members will have to contribute more prospectively to cover the resulting shortfall that Unified Giving creates for their centres. For example, if a centre previously collected $90,000 annually in dues, program fees and donations, they will have to collect $120,000 prospectively just to be at the same level of support for their centre.

        Yes, the change is obviously designed to increase the level of cash flowing to the centre of the mandala. That’s a no-brainer. Along with that is the necessary assumption that members will simply contribute more going forward, as I pointed out above. Again, if this is an inconsequential change for most members, as you say, then what’s the point?

        Better just to cut to the point, say that the centre of the mandala needs more money, and leave it to the membership to determine if more direct donations are appropriate. More direct, more honest, more courageous.

  2. Michael McCormick

    Dear Robert,

    Thank you, and all of the UGM team, for what is a huge undertaking to help put our community on a more sound financial footing.

    I, and other members of my Portland, OR, sangha would like to understand in more detail some of the expenses of the Centre of the Mandala, as well as the rationale for directing more funds from local centers into the land centers. With that greater understanding, I think it will be easier to get buy-in from members in general and an increased willingness to contribute more to the mandala.

    First, in the Dec. 15 online meeting and in your report, it was acknowledged that the trend in recent years has been for members to favor attending programs at local centers over programs at land centers. Yet the UGM proposes to have local centers contribute more of their revenue to land centers. While I believe the land centers are a wonderful and valuable resource for retreats, I wonder if it is wise to funnel more of our resources into them in the face of members’ demonstrated preference for local programs. Could you explain your rationale?

    Second, my investigation of the budget for the Centre of the Mandala, specifically the Halifax Court, raises questions for me about some of the expenses. I hesitate to question these items, in particular, because I don’t want to appear to be insensitive to the needs of the Sakwong, the Sakyong Wangmo, and their children. At the same time, understanding why some of their expenses are significantly higher than what I would expect would help me support them more enthusiastically.

    Specifically, I’m wondering why the mortgage payments, as reported in the 2012 budget which is the most specific figure I could find, are $135,000 per year. That is much higher than any residence I am familiar with, and having seen a photo of the rather modest Halifax residence, appears much too high. Perhaps, however, I’m not aware of the size and all the features of the property. Could you provide a more detailed description of it to explain what the mortgage payments cover?

    Finally, I notice, again from the 2012 budget, that $161,000 was spent on travel, cars, household expenses including food, and communications, both at home and while traveling, for the royal family of three, at the time, and the six staff that live and work with them. Having never had the help of servants, I don’t have any sense of how many people it takes to care for a family. Please understand, I do not take issue with the need for such service for someone like the Sakyong, and perhaps also the Sakyong Wangmo, who devotes so much of himself to working for the benefit of others. Could you offer more details on the duties that the six staff perform for the family?

    As is stated in the documents you have shared, the budget for the Centre of the Mandala is a relatively small portion of the whole budget. Still, I think a thorough understanding of all our expenses will help us all get behind the new funding model and find the energy to generate the wealth needed to create enlightened society.

    I offer these questions in deep gratitude for and devotion to the Sakyong.

    Michael

    • Michael,

      Those were very thoughtful observations and meaningful questions that merit a substantive response. A question I’ve expressed before that relates to the issues you’ve raised pertains to publishing. If a portion of centre of the mandala expenses supports publishing activities (secretary, scribe, travel, communications, etc.), as they clearly must, how can it be that revenues from publishing are totally excluded? There is no offset whatsoever. That appears to be a disconnect. Anyway, it would be helpful to better understand why this is the case. Thank you.

    • Hello Michael,

      As the Chagdzö Kyi Khyap (bursar general) I am quite familiar with the details for the central budget, so I wanted to offer a reply to your budget questions.

      Regarding the mortgage on the Halifax Court, I think your description of the house is fairly accurate, but the property is located on the water and that raises the value considerably. As well, we own the adjoining vacant lot, also on the water. This combined value allowed us to borrow about $1,000,000. About 70% is a first mortgage with annual payments of $95,000 and the rest is a shorter term loan.

      The staff for the royal family include two continuity kusung assigned to the Sakyong, one shabchi/kusung and an attendant assigned to the Sakyong Wangmo, a nanny and a machen (cook). Because the court hosts many official events, business meetings and the like, the machen provides meals for the family, guests and staff. This is also reflected in the food and household expenses budget for the family, guests and staff, which is typically about $60,000 per year.

      Rental cars are another good example of the complexity of the budget. If everyone is resident in the same place at the same time, there is a need for 3 cars, roughly one for the Sakyong, one for the Sakyong Wangmo and one staff car. When not traveling in support of the Sakyong’s extensive teaching schedule, their time is divided mainly between Halifax and Boulder. Because these are part time residences it is actually cheaper to rent cars than to buy them for both locations. The rental car expense is typically about $44,000 per year.

      Similarly, the royals and their staff have complex communication needs. Given the travel, which generally includes at least one trip to Europe each year for European teaching engagements, and often a trip to Asia for retreat, a good deal of attention is placed on arranging the most affordable service. This cost is typically about $21,000 per year.

      I hope this address your questions. Feel free to contact me directly at brock108108@gmail.com.

      Warm regards,
      Connie

  3. Dear Robert,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply, pretty much point-by-point, to my long email. I love how much care and transparency is being put into the UGM, even though I still don’t love everything about the model. And thanks too to Michael for sharing my interest in these questions.

    We all want the pie to be bigger, but I continue to see the UGM mainly as a way to redistribute resources away from Centers and Groups and toward the Center of the Mandala. And I continue to wish that SMR would join in this redistribution.

    I hope that the UGM committee feels confident that they have the support of major donors. (I’m not one, and I’ll continue to give what little I do, but it would be great if major supporters are inspired by the UGM). I share the UGM’s larger aspirations but am just not sure that the UGM is the only or best way to get there. However, I suppose that someone has to propose something new, and there are always risks in trying something new, so I salute your courage.

    In GES Vision,
    Dia

    • Robert Reichner

      Thank you for opening the dialogue on this, Dia. There are and will be different views on what the best course is for us as a community. I look forward to discussing this further with you as we continue the process, try things, and learn from the feedback. And thank you for your courage in expressing your feelings.

      In the GES Vision,

      Robert

  4. Robert Reichner

    Dear Dia,

    Thank you again for writing and for expressing your genuine heart on these matters. I should also thank you for your patience on my reply!

    I really appreciate the way you describe the Centers and Groups as the primary vehicles of outward engagement. This is truly where Shambhala makes first contact with some many of the new people that we touch. It’s also where our members spend much of their time and where many of us make our first heart connection to Shambhala vision. That’s certainly where and how we will continue to grow. Fostering the success of our Centers and Groups is the way to accomplish this.

    However, I don’t think that’s in conflict with sharing prosperity and linking the Center of the Mandala and Centers and Groups together. In fact, I think this form of exchange, of working together, and of generosity is the only way we’ll be able to accomplish that kind of growth and success at the Center and Group level. It’s also a demonstration of what we want to be and do in the world so is a prime training ground for us as a community.

    My belief is that to leap to the next phase as a community and global organization, we need to be stronger – stronger at the center and stronger at the local level. Right now we’re growing, but incrementally. But it also seems there’s an opportunity to expand further. For instance, we’re hearing more about satellites and how these are popping up all over the mandala. Having central resources that can guide this expansion in a way that’s shared 100 (or 1,000!) times across our community will have a much greater effect and benefit than each local situation having to figure this out themselves 100 times on their own. So there’s a balance and an exchange between these different kinds of activity.

    In the end, I feel this comes from revisiting how we think of Shambhala. We can see ourselves more accurately as a cohesive whole that’s working together towards a common goal of benefiting the world.

    Regarding WOS, thank you for sharing your experience at your local Center. It has certainly varied across the mandala in terms of the impact, so I appreciate you expressing what you’ve seen in your community.

    And yes! It can’t be said enough that many Center and Group members too work “long hours…evenings and weekends with little or no vacation or retreat time and no pension” on behalf of Shambhala. That needs to be acknowledged again and again. Saying this is true at the Centre of the Mandala should in no way distract from the tremendous efforts that happen all over the world. I’m in Seattle, for instance, and I know that so many members here work tirelessly offering meditation instruction, programs, and support to keep our local Center vibrant and welcoming.

    I also believe that Unified Giving can’t work if it is taking money away from local Centers and Groups so I certainly believe you’re right there. This isn’t about cutting up a limited “pie” in a different way. This is about seeing the tremendous potential of Shambhala and growing our “pie” so that there is much more to go around all together. This is the kind of cooperation that can transform our financial situation at every level. I do believe that we’ve been successful so far, but I also feel that we’re only at the beginning and there’s a vast ocean of potential that we can unleash. So the idea is that if we can bring new and greater wealth to the local Centers and Groups, then there will be more to share. This won’t be taking away, but sharing new revenues to benefit the entire situation.

    Regarding your two last points about “voting with our dollar” and the Sakyong’s income, I want to thank you for your courage in expressing your feelings there. This is a very personal area and we all have our own experiences and views in these areas. I contemplated this, and given how personal these things are, it seems the most genuine approach is simply for me to express my own feeling on the same issue, as an individual who’s also a member of Shambhala and who is a fellow donor to my Center and to the mandala as a whole.

    My feeling here is that I make an offering that’s freely given and with an intention to benefit people coming to Shambhala. I also know that at times I won’t agree with all the decisions that are made locally: it may have to do with hiring or not hiring people, how much is spent on one thing or not on another, whether to do this program or that program. But as part of a community, I’m glad for the people entrusted in those roles to make those decisions. So there’s an element of not knowing and also of trust. And I feel that this kind of giving and offering is a path that allows me to touch areas where I feel joy, or holding, or fear, or freedom – all of which can spark greater vulnerability, gentleness, and relaxation if I’m open to them. So sometimes I shut down and sometimes I give with great cheerfulness. And I’m grateful for all those opportunities.

    Regarding the Sakyong’s family income, I personally wish for him and his family to have more, for the members of Shambhala to have more, for Shambhala to have more, and for everyone in the world to be fully supported in whatever way they need. Again, this is me expressing my personal wish, so perhaps it is a bit outrageous. But I deeply aspire for there to be a situation of richness and abundance all around. And I don’t mean that in a dreamy way but in a way where there can be a very full flow of the generosity which brings wealth and contentment as our teachings tell us. I believe this comes from bringing the earthly wisdom of business and finance to our mandala (which as an entrepreneur I have a powerful longing to do) while creating cultural change around our relationship to money, wealth, and power to better express the wisdom of basic goodness.

    I hope you don’t mind me expressing myself so directly here, but you inspired me with your directness and I feel it’s only appropriate to do the same.

    I’m so appreciative of you taking the time to write and I’m eager to hear your further thoughts and insights. Thank you for your example of warriorship.

    With gratitude,

    Robert

  5. Robert Reichner

    Dear Dia,

    Thank you so much for your message. I wanted to let you know that I’d seen it and also that I’m currently at a program in Halifax. I’ll be back home this weekend and look forward to continuing the conversation then.

    Many thanks,

    Robert

    • I thought Dia Ballou’s comments and questions cut right to point. Hopefully, responses to the points raised will be communicated clearly and directly in this forum. Will that be the case? That would certainly be the right thing to do if transparency is truly a Shambhala policy. No response or an “offline” response would be very disappointing.

  6. Dear Mr. Reichner,

    I recently had the pleasure of reading your report on the need for the UGM — thank you for your clarity and generosity in helping us understand the need for the proposed changes. I have a few concerns that I hope you or someone might address, if not to me personally then perhaps in another public document, as I suspect similar reactions will arise for others.

    The UGM model is repeatedly referred to as a way (the way?) to “establish Shambhala as a powerful force in the world,” to take one example of the wonderfully fruitional phrasing from the report. But if the money is mostly flowing into Centers and Groups, then isn’t that exactly how Shambhala is growing and will and should continue to grow? The Sakyong wants us to engage more with the world; aren’t the Centers and Groups the entities closest to, indeed already completely enmeshed in, “the world”? Centers and Groups have been succeeding in reaching new people and inviting old members to step up further. Yes, we want and need to share the prosperity, and we want and need to be connected to the Center of the Mandala, but shouldn’t the Centers be recognized as the primary vehicles of outward engagement, and allowed to fully flourish as such? If we want to “establish Shambhala as a powerful force in the world,” then, looking at the success of Centers and Groups, we should continue doing just what we’re doing!

    And it seems disingenuous to suggest that it’s because of WOS and other Center-of-the-Mandala recommended changes that Centers and Groups have had their success. There is a correlation, not a causal relationship there. For all we know, Centers and Groups could have been even more prosperous without WOS and such new programming. I know our Center lost many members when they realized that they would no longer be offered the old classes they loved so much due to WOS. I am a fan of WOS, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been responsible for the financial solvency of our local Center.

    Further, it needs to be acknowledged that many Center and Group members too work “long hours…evenings and weekends with little or no vacation or retreat time and no pension” on behalf of Shambhala. It’s not just the Center of the Mandala that works so much for little or no pay. Many of us are doing so — on top of our full-time jobs, family responsibilities, and so on.

    Of course we all want the Center of the Mandala to be not just effective but downright comfortable — we do want to give them money — but keep in mind that Centers and Groups are using their very hard-earned money wisely to fulfill the Sakyong’s vision, as we understand it, as well. So taking money from us IS taking money away from that work we have to do and that we’ve shown we can do well. (Couldn’t we just have some independently wealthy but totally brilliant Shambhalians do this centralizing work — Walker Blaine, where are you??)

    I guess my main point is that more thought needs to be put into the fact that Centers and Groups have been successful. The Sakyong wants more engagement with the world, and that’s what Centers and Groups are doing, and doing well, at some cost already to devoted members.

    But I will also take this opportunity to briefly voice two more concerns. One is that the UGM does not allow us to “vote with our dollar.” Maybe voting with one’s dollar is too democratic for our monarchy; maybe it is not an enlightened thing to do. But I am not happy that my donations, small as they are, will be distributed to entities in a way disproportionate to how I feel about them.

    And, hardest of all to say, I think the Sakyong’s family income of $121,843 — above and beyond household, travel, court, and staff expenses — and not including revenue from speaking appointments and book sales — is perhaps where some of the funding for the Center of the Mandala should come from. If his budget includes his personal staff, why couldn’t that be extended to include the people who are so central to propagating his vision?

    Mr. Reichner and all involved in the UGM, there is so much in your report that I agree with and am heartened by. I have to say, I’m not typically one who takes interest in such matters. But your report was so nicely written that the provocative elements jumped out and got me. Please consider this a note of support, above all else. And please continue your essential yet little-compensated work toward creating the society we all long for.

    Dia Ballou
    Shambhala Center of White River Junction

  7. Thank you for this explanation of financing plans. While I am experience a sense of deja vu all over again at this approach, I am delighted that we have a dedicated team working to solve the financial situation, which I personally feel has made it less possible to share the teachings with so many more people.
    My comment is that communication from the centre in good times and bad inspires confidence; confidence in governance and management of money inspires confidence in generosity. The idea that newer members fully realize what goes on behind the scenes in the larger Shambhala mandala to keep this organization going is a good one and I believe essential to Unified Giving.
    My deepest appreciation for your efforts.
    Valerie Baker,
    Dapon V

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