Money: The Bad, The Good, The Essential
by Jody Grage, Treasurer of Green Party of the United States
Money has got a bad rap. We recoil from the word that has such close associations with greed, power, and inequality. Filthy lucre -moneybags – usury – made of money – the almighty dollar. The role of money in politics has been especially negative. Buying votes – war chests – the military-industrial complex – spiraling national debt – corporate domination.
Yet money is basically a neutral means of exchange. There are positive words associated with money, too. Solvent – thrifty – making ends meet – savings – investment.
Money can be used for good too. The necessities of food, clothing, and shelter – education – health care – charitable donations – appropriate rewards and incentives – micro-lending such as through the Grameen Bank – sustainable agriculture – wilderness preservation – but I digress.
Money plays a role in Green politics, but we are uncomfortable with that idea. Yet, for Green politics to grow into a mighty force for good and the 10 Key Values, we must increase the amount of money we have available. To do that, we have to change our thinking. And get busy now.
What are good Green uses for money? Candidate support – ballot access drives – lawyer fees – office staff – field organizers – campaign schools – Internet upgrades – literature – media – outreach. And that is just for starters! It would be nice if dreaming about the possibilities would get us there, but that has not been shown to work.
The urgent questions are: What do we want to accomplish in 2008? How much money will it take to do it? How do we get to that level? How are we going to develop the skills, knowledge, and approach that will enable us to raise the money we need in 2008? Where do we begin?
Perhaps most urgent of all: Who is going to do it? How can each of us take at least some personal responsibility for working toward our essential fundraising goals?
We must increase our fundraising abilities both institutionally and personally. Institutionally at the national level we need to work toward a full-time fundraising director, create an interactive on-line database, and extend resources for ongoing database development and updates There also needs to be more programs and events to grow the donor database, distribute a wider range of well-designed demographically targeted literature, and a coordinated advertising plan.
At the state level, the number and variety of state sharing programs should increase as more ideas to make use of this cooperative effort come forward. We need to recognize the interconnection with state and national fundraising efforts and the benefits to state and local Green Parties of increased institutional capacity at the national level.
Skills and knowledge learned at one level can be used at all levels. Fundraising expertise acquired at a GPUS workshop this July, for example, can be used at the local, state, and national levels.
Personally we must accept we are the Green Party. At times when that responsibility seems too much, it helps me to realize that even then there is nothing else I would rather be doing – and a lot of the company is pretty good. The Green Party doesn’t accept money from corporations, so WE are all we have got.
Share your thoughts, ideas, and strategies. And see you in Reading in July – where there will be lots of talk about goals and money!
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