The Dalai Lama Foundation runs primarily on small-to-medium sized contributions. We have two income streams – one is composed of individuals donating to support specific programs that are proposed and operated by third parties, and the other is individuals donating to Foundation-run programs. In the latter category are our general fund (lots of programs) and our peace and ethics curriculum fund. These are the most important programs in terms of our day-to-day attention, and are the programs we’re trying to expand this year.
I recently heard about my friend Alan M. Webber’s recently-published book Rules of Thumb. (Also see his book blog.) I have been reading the reviews and publicity – and I like what I hear, so I ordered Rules of Thumb as an e-book (lots cheaper than buying a paper book) and I’ll skim it later today. I met Alan just about two years ago, over an arranged brunch thanks to Betsy Burroughs, and then spent a day strategizing about the Waldzell Meetings.
One of Alan’s rules, chosen by Tim Ferriss for a review, is “RULE #24 – If you want to change the game, change the economics of how the game is played.” I like this idea. Here’s how I propose to start… We have a new feature on our Learning Zone called Many Paths to Peace. Here I interview (and profile) people who have started organizations that contribute to the world’s stockpile of peace. And really, as long as they’re contributing to compassionate peacemaking, it doesn’t matter so much what their modus operandi is. Currently, I pick easy targets. People I know, or people who are nearby and easy to reach. In the past I’ve posted audio interviews and now I’m doing almost exclusively video interviews. To keep Many Paths to Peace going, we need donors, because we have equipment and time costs, and post-production and hosting costs on the interviews. I’m doing this on my own dime right now, but that won’t last as we expand. So what I propose to do is allow people to donate based on whom they’d like to see interviewed – the person with the most votes gets interviewed next because their interview gets funded first. Not entirely a new idea (and there are many reasons why it hasn’t already worked for citizen journalism), but in this case it means that our fans can determine the direction we go…rather than just going along for the ride. This model may help us both with direction and with financial support. And I have another trick up my sleeves – it’s my intent to get interviews working all around the world. Funding them might be done using a similar model. Like stringers on a newsmag.