WildSeed Ecology’s Idiosyncratic Structure
In the same way–and for the same reasons–that WildSeed Ecology is organized pretty uniquely, we plan on our finances being very different from typical organizations. The work of building a better world that WildSeed is stewarding is being done by an ecology of organizations. At the center of the WildSeed Society ecology is a spiritual community and so we have sought to be recognized as one by the IRS.
Unfortunately, many aspects of our spiritual beliefs and cultural practices are at odds with how organizations are usually structured. For instance our spiritual practice of mutual aid as a means of claiming and caring for our shared humanity is technically not considered charitable by the IRS which means that tax-exempt nonprofits are not permitted to use their funds for this purpose.
Thus, we are working to create for-profit organizations called the Sacred Economy (for mutual aid) and Collective Commons (for income sharing.)
These structures will pay taxes and donate their after tax revenue to various values-aligned projects that are not technically charitable (though they are directly tied to spiritual beliefs). For instance, charities often have to prove that the people they give money to are actually a part of a charitable class [i.e poor people have to prove they are poor.]
In theory, this makes sense to ensure that there is no fraud. Yet, in practice, this might mean people in crisis might have to fill out paperwork in order to receive a grant which creates an unnecessary barrier to getting support.
Often nonprofits have to build out a specific kind of bureaucracy to track these sorts of things, which means that over time legal requirements actually determine the form of the organization rather than the function, politics and culture of the organization and community they serve.
As a consequence, we anticipate paying much more in taxes than a religious organization usually would in order to live in accordance with our foundational belief in a world in which the means of life are collectively stewarded and everyone can get their needs met with dignity. So to understand how we use money, you have to understand more about the WildSeed Way.
Wildseed sees itself as an organization from the future that is right on time.
Learn more about the WildSeed Ecology here
The WildSeed Way
The WildSeed Way is a term we use for how we do things. All the things. It's how we love, care, fight, build, rest, nurture, evolve, subvert, abolish, laugh, block and be in our everyday lives.
One of our foundational spiritual beliefs is our co-responsibility to steward the earth and ensure that both the earth and human society remain conducive to life: the adaptive, connecting, self-perpetuating, self-governing creative force.
- Deciding on our programing collectively and distributing tasks on a voluntary basis
- Stewarding all sources of our income in common as well as our social capital to ensure each other’s co-thriving and the advancement of our vision of a “new Kingdom of Heaven” as a metaphor for liberation on earth.
- Assuming people’s capacity is generally half of what they think it is and capping our expected workload at 25% of that capacity.
- Elevating care as an essential part of communal thriving that must be acknowledged, done by people of all genders in equal measure, supported in order to be sustainable and both offered and requested consensually.
- Claiming each other and witnessing each other faithfully both privately and publicly against the grains of oppression. We agree to stand with each other in the face of life’s challenges.
- To operate with as much internal and external transparency as possible.
Read more about the WildSeed Way here
WildSeed Society Finances Rooted in Black Movements
WildSeed Society’s finances have to be understood in the broader social context. As our yearly reports and blog posts on movement money show, our spiritual and social practices keep us rooted to movements for a better world. The WildSeed Society is in many ways a child of the radical Black tradition and kin to the Movement for Black Lives.
While engaged Buddhism and the cultures of care prominent in South and East Asian cultures deeply influence how we offer care and engage spiritual growth, our analysis of the social world and the material conditions that underlie it are rooted in Black Radical Tradition and our experiences within Black led uprisings of the past few years.
Perhaps most relevantly, our financial history is deeply tied to increases in donations that were a result of the George Floyd Uprising.
Specifically, Sandra’s ability to support the launch of WildSeed Society as an unpaid staff member for almost two years was due in large part to a massive increase in interest of her Healing From Internalized Whiteness course during that summer of 2020 when the racial uprisings in the US took off.
In three months, the course registration fees reached over $80,000 with an unprecedented number of enrollments. Similarly, Aaron's support of and history with the BLM chapters in DC and Louisville lead to gifts of $100K and $250K to the WildSeed Society Ecology.
The money Sandra’s business donated to the ecology as well as the gifts from the BLM chapters allowed WildSeed Society to hire people to work full time on this experiment. It also allowed us to take on supporting Reece during his healing journey and allowing Erika to decrease her workload and be more present to support our work.
If we were a community arts organization in a small town, those hundred of thousands of dollars would have been a multi-year boon. Yet, in the context of a racial uprising, after literal decades of systemic underinvestment in Black and POC communities, facing a Trump administration that was snatching activists off the street, it was barely enough to get started. To put it in context, the so-called “Freedom Convoy” raised almost ten million dollars just for one protest.
Being rooted in the Black Radical Tradition means that WildSeed Society benefits and suffers from the same dynamics that affect other Black led movement organizations. Namely the fact that radical Black work often falls outside the comfort zone and understanding of philanthropic foundations and people with disposable income.
Funding Black movement orgs has always been deemed “too risky” even though not doing so all but guarantees that the rise of authoritarianism and austerity continue unchecked. This has left Black radical movements consistently and dangerously underfunded for years.
WildSeed Society Ecology Incomes and Expenses
All of this is to put our budget in context. The WildSeed Society Ecology is made up of almost a dozen separate organizations and projects, most of them with their own bookkeeping and boards. Some of the work that these organizations do could not accurately be characterized as WildSeed Society work and thus some of their budget isn’t really a part of our Ecology resource flow.
In addition, some aspects of these organizations' interactions means that what is income for one organization is an expense for another. Thus, it is not possible to just add all the expenses and income up to get the Ecology income and expenses.
Lastly, though we are close to each organization in our ecology, we don’t have access to every organization’s books. Each organization has its own relationship to the ecology and its own needs for bookkeeping, transparency, privacy and security. Thus, despite our desire for transparency, our reports of the ecology can’t help but be estimates.
The hardest numbers are the total yearly compensation, pre-tax, for House of the Sacred members since we talk about those regularly as a group. For the operations and programming budgets, we tried our best to avoid double counting and only include income into the ecology and expenses out. Many groups in the ecology are still working on tax filings and do not all have yearly budgets for 2022 so thus numbers are always preliminary.
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