How Not to Fund a Movement

[By Ed Fallon]

The interesting people we meet on this March! Last week, the town drunk of Lyndon, Illinois taught me a lesson about . . . fundraising!

It was 8:00 a.m., and we were ready to start the day’s march. “Dennis” showed up three sheets to the wind, beer in hand, pledging his admiration and financial support. A cash donation of $100 was forthcoming. Later, when only a few marchers were in camp, Dennis became belligerent and demanded his $120 back. (Yes, you read that correctly: donates $100, demands a refund of $120.)

One of the marchers, concerned about Dennis’ growing belligerence, gave him the money just to get rid of him. So, the guy made $20, and perhaps even claimed the original $100 donation on his taxes. (Note to self: If being a nice guy doesn’t work when fundraising, consider Dennis’ approach. Well, not really.)

Seriously, of course, neither alcoholism nor public belligerence are anything to laugh at. But it was such an odd occurrence, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

On a far more serious note, I offer these words of wisdom from Steven Norris’ “Call to Action,” regarding the growing sense of urgency for a “direct action campaign over a multi-day period of time around November 1st in Washington, DC,” to coincide with the March’s arrival there. Writes Steven:

“We hurtle toward a climate precipice, one foot occasionally, tentatively tapping the brake but the other simultaneously flooring the accelerator on our fossil-fueled economy.

“Our government is pretending to navigate, but industry is calling the shots from the back seat.

“We know how this will end. Very badly, unless we change how we make energy, how we get around, how we grow food, how the economy is structured, how we measure the economy, what we value.

“Only our actions, our outcry can make the difference.

“Warnings are everywhere: Persistent droughts and heat waves, super storms, rising seas, dead oceans, raging wildfires, melting glaciers, spoiled rivers, exhausted aquifers, vanishing species, poisoned people. While some of us and some nations have more resources to protect themselves from these catastrophes, low-income people and people of color globally are already disproportionately harmed.”

Yes, for sure, action is needed – all kinds of action. Marching. Voting. Civil disobedience. And with civil disobedience, great care needs to be taken to think strategically, to assure that the action’s message brings people into the conversation. Too often, civil disobedience repels the intended audience, ends up hurting a cause rather than helping it. With the future of life on Earth in the balance, we cannot afford to be careless with how we communicate the urgency of the moment.