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Apr 16
Strategic Directions – Kalapa Council Update April 2012

Moving forward with the lineage vision and initiating deeper community dialogue

1. Introduction – the strategic decisions we face
2. The Sakyong’s 2020 Vision
3. What has our Shambhala community accomplished since the Sakyong’s retreat?
4. Our current financial challenges
5. How is the Kalapa Council working with the situation?
6. The decisions we face right now
7. Opening up communication with our community

1. Introduction – the strategic decisions we face

The Kalapa Council is faced with strategic decisions about moving forward. We must decide on a course of action within the coming two weeks. The strategic decision is about how to move forward with the Sakyong’s 2020 Vision and not pull back as a result of the serious financial shortfall we are facing after our Shambhala Day campaign.

These decisions are important and will affect our entire community. For this reason, we want to share details of our current situation, and open an ongoing dialogue on the Kalapa Council blog about where we are headed and how we are going to make this journey financially sustainable.

2. The Sakyong’s 2020 Vision
The Sakyong was clear about the direction in which he was leading us when he came out of his year-long retreat, when we received his Letter of the Morning Sun:

If Shambhala as a vision, a lineage, and a community is to have any real effect on the world, the next ten years are essential. We must now begin to organize, train, and develop ourselves with greater commitment and determination. Therefore, I ask all Shambhalians to see the next ten years as a time to truly challenge ourselves. (For the full text of the letter, please click here.)

His challenge has reverberated throughout Shambhala. We in the Kalapa Council devoted ourselves fully to this objective. We invested heavily in new services to give far more support to our members, centres and groups. We introduced a new training program for leaders and engaged in a major reorganization of our central services and the leadership of the mandala. The idea was to create the best possible container for the teachings and practices the Sakyong wished to introduce to make Shambhala a socially transformative culture of “kindness, generosity and courage.”

3. What has our Shambhala community accomplished since the Sakyong’s retreat?

Celebration at the Shambhala Centre in Santiago, Chile

The Sakyong’s Activity
The Shambhala community has offered the Sakyong an environment in which he could introduce Shambhala and Enlightened Society vows, the Shambhala Sadhana, his forthcoming Treatise on Enlightened Society, and many more teachings on the way. Providing this environment for the unfolding and expression of these unique lineage teachings is integral to accomplishing the transformative vision of the Sakyongs.

A major outreach effort is connected with the Sakyong’s new book Running with the Mind of Meditation. More than 200 runners and Meditation Instructors are studying and practicing the running meditation instruction to assist newcomers interested in this approach. Many running Meditation Instructors are preparing to lead Running with the Mind of Meditation programs for running clubs and sports centres.

Investment in leadership and services
The central services of the mandala have been considerably strengthened. We now have an Executive Director to lead our central services. We have been able to fund the Kalapa Acharya so that he can work full time on curriculum development, teacher training and the Shambhala path of societal transformation. We now have a Director of Centre and Group Support, to support our centres and groups during this period of intense change and growth. This investment in people is all aimed at providing far better and more responsive assistance and advice to our volunteers and members who fly the flag of Shambhala in their towns, cities and neighbourhoods!

We have invested in new communications technology. The new Shambhala News website, http://shambhalanews.com , just launched, is specifically designed for new visitors from the public searching for an introduction to Shambhala.

A growing mandala
Our membership has increased by 10% in the last year… The latest statistics show a ten percent overall increase in Shambhala Centre/Group membership over the last year. We believe this is due to the increased support we have been able to offer to the Sakyong and to our centres, the focus and dedication of our teachers, leaders and volunteers, and the new curriculum. Some centres report as much as 25% growth locally!

4. Our current financial challenges

In the midst of this good news, we face an immediate and significant financial challenge. This year, in addition to the money we collect from regular donations to the centre of the mandala, centre transfers and program revenue, we attempted to fundraise an additional one million dollars to fund our central service for 2012.

This funding would provide support to the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo, fund all the central services to our members, centres and groups, and new services and investments for further growth.

In an effort to respond to the many requests we have had for a more streamlined approach to fund-raising, we decided to put all our efforts into one single Shambhala Day campaign. Thanks to the generosity of just over 1,600 of our members, we received more than $300,000 (one of the highest totals on a Shambhala Day ever). But since we were aiming to raise $1,080,000, that left us with a shortfall of $780,000.

We have enough funds to last until the middle or end of May. After that, we will be unable to meet our monthly expenses unless we take other immediate measures.

5. How is the Kalapa Council working with this situation?

Abundance not scarcity

The Kalapa Council’s determination to move forward arose because of our certainty in the lineage vision and our willingness to invest heavily in services. The current money crunch has not occurred because of people’s lack of appreciation for the lineage vision or mistrust of the leadership. It is simply the result of not being able to generate in one single campaign the level of resources that previously we would raise over the whole year.

A strategic, rather than palliative, opportunity
We all feel that this current funding crunch also highlights the value of looking for the strategic, transformative possibilities – so that we come out of this with a stronger situation going forward. We feel we should be willing to envision the future and take the strategic steps now that will get us there.

We need to actively cultivate a new understanding in Shambhala as a whole – that we are “all in this together”. This will involve engaging with our local leaders and members in a different way. We need to see if there is a way we can work together with everyone to find a new way forward, not just financially, but as a growing global community with shared values, shared interests and shared commitments. This is one of the reasons for the new Unified Giving Model. When people join their local centre, they will realize that they are part of a vast Shambhala world that welcomes and supports them.

New Model of Financial Sustainability
We need a new model. We are actively exploring possibilities to enable us to diversify and stabilize the way we fund ourselves. In the Feeling the Heat of the Sun initiative, which began in the November 2011, we have been consulting with a diverse group of Shambhala members who have a lot of experience in finance, community development and the entrepreneurial world, to invite suggestions on how we can maximize our strengths in ways that will generate additional streams of revenue. We are actively exploring many interesting insights, tactics and strategies that have been shared in this initiative, as well as seeking outside experts who can help us re-structure our mandala so that it is better able to support our vision. We are open to all news ideas and willing to question old patterns that are in need of change!

6. The decisions we face right now.

While we explore longer-term strategic opportunities, we are faced with an immediate financial shortfall. We do not have the funding to proceed with our plans. Thus, we face several questions: Until we have the funding to do this, we need to be prudent, but how far back should we pull back? Should we wait until we have all the funding in place again to continue moving forward? Should we admit that it was unrealistic to seek an entire year’s funding in one single campaign, and be willing to go back to the community one or more times to ask everyone to fund our central services?

Immediate funding needs
We want to preserve the existing services we have been able to provide to all centres and groups, particularly as a result of the improvements we have already introduced.
We are therefore seriously considering a further appeal, to take place as soon as possible, to raise a further $300,000. This would be accomplished by showing clearly what those services are – and the people who are providing them. If everyone gave $150 to this appeal, it would not only sustain those services, but also enable us to create a $25,000 scholarship fund to enable people to attend summer programs whose financial resources do not permit them to do so

7. Opening up communication with our community

While we contemplate these issues in the short space of time we have (two weeks), we have decided to share all this with everyone in Shambhala. If you have suggestions or ideas that you feel could help us grapple with these large issues, we very much welcome them. You can post your comments and suggestions below on our blog.

Here are the main points we are considering and that we invite you to contemplate with us:

• What should we do in the short term? Preserve our existing level of service by fundraising one more times in the next year? Cut back on existing services?

• What are the alternatives that could lead to a new and healthier model of financial sustainability for Shambhala altogether?

Strategic consultations
We are also proposing to open up a series of strategic consultations with local centres and groups and members. This initial message setting out our thinking process is the first step. We will be working on plan for holding discussions with centre leaders, likely involing the Mandala Council (on which all centres have a seat). We are thinking of a larger “strategic planning consultation” to which all centre directors and group coordinators would be invited some time in the autumn. All this would be part of laying the basis for the Fifth Shambhala Congress, provisionally planned to take place at Dechen Chöling in mid-September 2013.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Please post your comments and ideas on The Kalapa Council blog

From: The Kalapa Council

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