The Power of Community and Collaboration

by Maria Meyer, Central Co-op Community Outreach Administrator
Photos courtesy of Powerful Voices

Part of my job as the Community Outreach Administrator at Central Co-op is to secure sponsorship opportunities that give back to our community.  I read through countless requests and try to meet with organizations and select events that will serve the greatest potential in our community and that reflects our values as a co-op.

This year, I was especially struck by one of the opportunities that came across my desk.  The request for sponsorship was from our neighbors at Powerful Voices (PV).  I noticed that their materials mention that donations raised during their main fundraiser this year will also go to a handful of other organizations and a couple of individuals, not just Powerful Voices. So, I sat down for a cup of coffee with this year’s Luncheon Chair and Powerful Voices Board Member, Morgan Dawson, to discuss how they arrived at the decision.  This is a concept that might generally be considered a taboo in the fundraising world, as Dawson is aware, given her current job as special events manager with Washington Women’s Foundation.  However, just like Powerful Voices, the concept is truly authentic, collaborative, and honestly… revolutionary.

Keeping in mind this year’s luncheon theme, “Year of the Answer”, the staff and board of PV, reflected on questions that they frequently hear: How can I get involved? How do I get money directly to communities of color? How do we make our work more accessible? Where is my place? What do young people want and need? What they realize is that the answer is found in community.    

Powerful Voices is in the business of providing skills to girls of color in Seattle to share their own voices and advance social justice.  They asked, "Why not apply the same concept to their annual fundraiser and help amplify the voices or other people who are also doing social justice work in Seattle?"  Dawson mentioned that she got involved with PV while she was looking to volunteer with a non-profit for young girls of color who practice what they preach. She said that PV has changed from a message of being “for girls, to with girls,” a distinction that values collaboration just like this event.  She said of PV, that it “admits where it is on the journey and is always looking for ways to be better.” 

Dawson said they don’t like the idea of competing with other organizations who are also doing great work, and instead they will use their platform to uplift other organizations.  As they thought about it, they asked the question, “What would it mean to be in community with you?” They realized they were already in community with a number of local champions who also provide services and support to people of color. They are starting with 6 whom they already have natural partnerships and authentic connection: Maisha Manson, Na’ah Illahee Fund, Northwest Tap Connection, Street Yoga, Gabriela Seattle, and Angel ‘Moonyeka’ Alviar-Langley. These champions will each receive at least $2,000 to use for continuing their work with people and youth of color.  The more money that is raised, the more will be split among them.  Each organization will be seated at various tables around the room along with staff and board from Powerful Voices, so everyone can mix and mingle and learn about all the organizations.  Each partner will also each be featured in 2-minute video clips in the weeks prior to the event, which will give guests an introduction to the work they each do.

In typical fundraising, you raise money and you are done.  Instead, Dawson wants to foster a culture of philanthropy.  This is just opening the door to what’s possible for community to look like.  These are partnerships that will carry on after the luncheon.  The power of collaboration is a strong force and an ideal PV holds close.  And as they point out, “By supporting Powerful Voices, you are actually supporting our entire community.  Your attendance will put you in community with our community.”  Couldn’t we all use more of that?  I think so.

As a Co-op, we at Central understand we are nothing without being in community with our neighbors.  As such, we are proud to sponsor of this year’s Powerful Voices Luncheon: The Year of the Answer.  Please join us in learning more about how we can all be part of the Answer.

Powerful Voices Luncheon: The Year of the Answer
Thurs Oct 18, 11:30AM-1:30PM (program and lunch from 12-1pm)
415 Westlake - 415 Westlake Ave N, Seattle 

Tickets are free. Register here. 

You can also RSVP on the Facebook event page to get first access to the videos about the local organizations.

Date: Tuesday October 02, 2018

Category: Community

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