Raising Funds Is Essential to Getting Organized NOW for a Real Revolution

Reflections on the recent $25,000 fund drive from people involved in the National Revolution Tour

| revcom.us


Hundreds of people donated in big and small ways to the recent $25,000 fund drive for the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour. In addition to raising these necessary funds, the fund drive itself became a means for planting seeds of revolution, spreading the revolution and building organization. This is precious and important, though fragile and needs to take root and grow in an ongoing way—so we wanted to sum this up a little more fully.

The Declaration from the revcoms, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution, says: “We need to urgently change the situation where not nearly enough people know about this revolution and are with it. We need to get this revolution, and its leadership, known everywhere.” The funds raised are essential to changing this situation—and even greater funds are needed to be able to have a big impact with this revolution. But just as important is the fact that the process of raising funds is part of spreading the word about this revolution, struggling with people to take responsibility for this revolution and building up the necessary organization and organized networks needed to build this revolution.

We are in a rare time when revolution becomes possible. We are serious about seizing on that situation and building up the forces of the revolution. That means being serious about raising the funds necessary to support that revolution and it means integrating fundraising in an ongoing way into everything we’re doing.

In this last round, over 30 new individual donors contributed (not including what was raised from street donations). Raising and donating funds is a way that people can begin to take up the revolution even if they are just encountering it and don’t yet know everything about it. They can get involved and learn more as they go. When you ask people for funds it poses the question immediately of what is really worth giving your resources to—what really matters.

Experiences in a number of cities gave a glimpse of the potential:

In a neighborhood in South Central LA where the revolution is starting to become known, the revcoms reached out to people who have been getting involved in the revolution. They went deeper with them into what this revolution is all about and strategized with them about how to raise funds. Out of this process a goal of $500 was set and plans were made for a variety of ways to reach out and make the revolution a bigger question in the community. One person had the idea of doing a BBQ and worked on all the preparations and invited his friends and neighbors. Word was spreading, and on the day before the BBQ, the revcoms spread it further with a sound truck and flyers to announce the fundraising effort and BBQ, and call on people to take part in the revolution and donate on the spot. About 15 people came out to the BBQ to buy a plate and hang out a bit in the backyard. Video clips of BA on imagining how another kind of society is actually possible were played and this sparked controversy and discussion about religion and science and how to understand the world. Through this and other efforts, $452 was raised, and through all the outreach new people were met and others got reconnected and the revolution established more of presence in the neighborhood. Two people took up the “revolutionary change jars,” and through accumulating change over more than a week, we exceeded our $500 goal (more on these jars below).

An effort initiated by the Revolution Club in Chicago to raise $10 from 50 people unleashed a whole range of outreach by Club members and supporters, spreading the revolution to family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors with potential for real organized networks—and raising funds in the process:

A man who we had met in the course of the protests last summer and had related to us only peripherally before this donated $20 and sent this statement: “I am donating because I believe that liberty, for those that have been historically marginalized, can only prevail if they are part of a new revolution that resists fascism and pushes back on negative white social norms.” Following up with him, we learned he had raised another $80—$10 each from eight family members and friends. He said he had been to more protests in the last year than we could imagine, but out of all the speeches and pitches he heard, the Revolution Club had the best message of them all. He said that others don’t want to look at the truth of what is needed in the face, but the Revolution Club does. He said most of his friends and family who donated had seen the Revolution Club in the neighborhood. A 15-year-old nephew of his told us why he contributed. He said he had never heard of the revolution but his uncle told him what it was all about, what they did and what they were trying to do, and he definitely wanted to give to that. [Read the full letter from the Revolution Club about this effort.]

One thing we wanted to draw from this effort is the way people with difficult conditions of life—working full time, caught up in a lot of the chaos of life—were still able to take responsibility for the revolution by contributing and raising funds. This is exactly the kind of process called for in the Declaration and Call from the revcoms—a process of people stepping into the revolution in whatever ways they can, spreading this to others, and in that context, getting deeper into “why this revolution is necessary, what it involves and the kind of society it’s aiming for...” becoming organizers for this revolution and bringing forward new organizers.

The Revolution Club in New York held a mass meeting on the sidewalk in front of Revolution Books in Harlem which drew people who were serious and curious about the revolution. At the meeting they dug into the Declaration and Call and the piece from Bob Avakian (BA), This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So, And How To Seize On This Rare Opportunity. Fundraising was the way they focused on organizing people, putting to people the role that this can play in forging organized networks for the revolution, involving people and meeting a great need to get the word out about the revolution. They showed the video of family members who lost loved ones to murder by police, calling on people to donate to the National Revolution Tour. One person responded that she is involved in a lot of different things but the revolution is where she goes “to get her soul fed” and she will support this in every way she can. Another person stepped up to become a monthly sustainer because she feels this is the best way she can support the revolution. One woman was inspired off of the meeting to plan a cookout outside the bookstore to raise funds for the revolution and raise the profile of the store. She started talking this up among her friends and then she and a friend sat down with the revcoms to discuss plans for the cookout and walk through how to talk to people about the revolution (this is scheduled for August 22). They read through the Declaration and Call together, using it as a guide to figure out how to promote the revolution as part of advertising for and drawing people to the cookout. This was an important part of putting responsibility for the revolution in the hands of those who are stepping forward to be part of it.

Another new thing that began in LA, and needs to spread across the country, was popularizing “revolutionary change jars.” These are small change jars that people can leave out in their homes, or take to work or bring to family or friend gatherings. Our experience with this is still very initial, but this has a lot of potential to build up regular, sustained networks with people taking responsibility to feed their donations into the revolution.

In LA, some of the younger kids got involved in making these jars. They set up a table on a corner, calling on people to take up these jars while distributing copies of the Declaration and Call. Only two people wanted to commit to this kind of regular form but we need to fight through on this—it’s a more serious commitment than people who just give us a donation on the spot and is a form of regular contact and support for the revolution. This form needs to be fought for, popularized and spread—including among the youth and students as schools and campuses are beginning to open.

Another form that we need to build up is bringing forward people to sustain the National Revolution Tour—contributing a certain amount every month. This means there’s a certain amount of funds the National Tour knows to expect every month and it is an important form of organization. Since the initiation of the recent fund drive, 10 new sustainers signed up—there are now 41 sustainers donating from $5 to $100 per month. This was an important advance, but monthly regular expenses run between $20,000 and $30,000 and we need to have an even bigger impact than we’re able to have on our current budget. Many more people are needed to step into the revolution by making a commitment in this way.

There were all kinds of other important efforts to raise funds—from people setting up big signs at an intersection and reaching out to people in their cars who stop at the light, to organizing yard sales and stoop sales, to one person who set up in the NYC subway and played his horn to raise funds. A group of people in Chicago pulled together to make a statement from people who lost loved ones to violence among the people about why people should contribute, and a group of people in Boston raised funds in honor of the 50th anniversary of the uprising in Attica prison.

All of these experiences represent real beginnings that need to grow and become a consistent part of how the revolution is built. Raising funds is a way for people to take the revolution out to others, to work in a collective way as part of the developing movement for revolution—and it conveys the seriousness of this revolution. No revolution can be built and sustained without the active support—financially and in many other ways—of those who catch the most hell under this system, and of all who refuse to accept living in world that they see crushing hopes, destroying lives, and ruining the very planet we have to live on.

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