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An Evolutionary Funding Network

One of the Evolutionary Philanthropy papers

Imagine a network of funders and others who (1) wish to support transformational, evolutionary activities and (2) seek to better understand the evolutionary worldview, the nature of conscious evolutionary transformation, and the evolutionary role that wealth can play. This would not be a fund or foundation, but a network of mostly wealthy individuals using their wealth to promote the healthy evolution of societies and cultures.

As a network and not a fund, this Evolutionary Funding Network would not make any decisions about what The Network as a whole would collectively fund. Rather, it would do things like the following:

a) promote the idea that funding social and cultural transformation is a good and powerful thing to do -- while distinguishing it from the more familiar sorts of funding (i.e., supporting political advocacy battles; ameliorating the suffering of the ill; unfortunate, or oppressed; medical research; higher education institutions; etc.) -- and promote exploratory dialogue about this emerging distinction between evolutionary and traditional philanthropy.

b) set up various means for evolutionary activists, innovators and servant leaders with projects, visions and activities to connect with funders who might want to support the kind of thing they're doing. Such means might include the following:

-- online resources like websites (with funding stories, registries, articles, databases, contact info, etc.), listservs, etc.
-- publications like fliers and catalogues of possibilities (funding available/needed)
-- face to face gatherings on popular evolutionary and transformational topics where funders/fundees/others can meet
-- ways for wealthy people to share projects-of-possible-interest with each other
-- ways for funders to co-create funds and foundations for specific areas of interest
-- ways for activists, innovators and servant leaders to communicate with each other about the Network

c) set up mutual support systems (emotional, knowledge-sharing, self-transformation, etc.) through which transformationally-oriented people of wealth can help each other understand and cope with their role in the world, nourishing the expansion of both their full humanity and their effectiveness (including newsletters, listservs, workshops, retreats, sharing of references, etc.)

d) draw more wealthy people into the network to expand its evolutionary power (e.g., the e-commerce and high-tech fortunes and all the Boomers who are inheriting their parents' money in the coming decades)

e) develop funding innovations, such as

-- Grameen Bank inspired fundee answerability networks (which depend on communities of recipients to provide answerability, rather than extensive paperwork);
-- ways to increase the speed and flexibility of funding to better deal with rapidly developing problems, opportunities, and knowledge (e.g., Michael Milken's work transforming prostate cancer research funding);
-- collaborations where some funders are active participants in projects they fund
-- the increased use of intuition and other transpersonal and non-rational decision-making capacities (in addition to the rational ones) in funding decisions, etc.

f) convene powerful conversations, such as wisdom council-style dialogues about the needs of funders and fundees, and the dynamics of funding, evolution, and social transformation -- which include all relevant stakeholders -- to generate greater wisdom and innovation to guide their work.Such a network wouldn't have an ideology (something solid that people believe in or don't) so much as a vision -- a few essential truths about evolution and transformation and what they could mean for the world -- which would attract the right kind of funders.

The right person with a secretary and a travel budget could, in 6-12 months, generate solid beginnings to a healthy network. Here is an example of a powerful program such a person could organize to help such a network self-organize and evolve.



How can concentrated private wealth be invested to transform emerging crises into positive evolutionary leaps towards sustainable, spirit-filled, wise cultures that work for everyone?


a) Convene a 2-4 day wisdom council of two dozen wealthy people, professional philanthropists, nonprofits who serve philanthropic efforts, and transformational agents. They do NOT represent their organizations; they come as insightful, creative individuals. They are mandated to come up with a 1-10 page statement speaking to the Inquiry, above, which is broadly disseminated. This would be dynamically facilitated and we'd expect real breakthroughs in understanding and possibilities.

b) Establish a listserv or online conference to receive comments and generate discussion on the results of (a).

c) Within six months convene a 3-4 day open space conference about the Inquiry, with World Cafe (mix-and-match) events each night to stir the pot. Have dynamic facilitators on hand for certain sessions where real breakthrough may be possible, and possibly graphic facilitators as well. Promote it broadly to the above audiences, and shoot for at least 100 participants, preferably more. Encourage insights and plans to be shared online.

d) Convene another similar open space six months later, with many more people, some new, some veterans of the process. Again, share results on line, and support the formation of networks and working groups.

e) At the end of the year, convene a wisdom council of two dozen people chosen at random from the participants at both conferences, with a similar mandate as in (a).

f) Establish an annual wisdom council and open space thereafter.

By the end of that first year, we could be well on the way to transforming philanthropy. Not only will issues be raised and explored, but people will find themselves taking responsibility for actually DOING innovations they stumble on, and finding each other. Establishing regular powerful forums (wisdom councils and open spaces) will sustain the momentum and make needed course-corrections and innovations possible.

Diverse efforts in philanthropy exist which parallel this one. However, efforts to bring into being various independent visions may be too small and collectively incoherent to meet the vast systemic need for transformation at all levels of our culture.

Creating an initiative based on a powerful inquiry and a powerful process can create a space in which diverse efforts will evolve in full view of and interaction with each other, and where new initiatives will emerge as needed, all within the context of an evolving coherence shared by the field as a whole.


See also the other Evolutionary Philanthropy papers


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