It’s hard to believe that this is my last blog post as the Executive Director of Resource Generation. I have truly been transformed by my RG journey, from joining the DC chapter in 2013 to moving into my Associate Director role in 2014 to becoming the Executive Director in 2017. I have built lifelong friendships, significantly increased my giving, had difficult (and rewarding!) conversations with my family about money, learned what it means to be in accountable cross-class relationships, and have been consistently called in and invited to act in integrity from my deepest values.
Thank you to every one of you – from alumni, former and current staff and board, Advocate members, constituent members, and supporters and organizational partners – who have made RG the powerful, challenging, loving, vibrant, community and political home that it is today for me and so many others.
Since I know not everyone is interested in reading my 45+ page exit memo, I thought I would share some overall reflections as I wrap up my time on staff:
- Fund other organizations the way you fund RG: We are in the remarkable position of being 95% funded by our members and 100% of that support is unrestricted general operating support. We fund our work through membership dues because it reflects member power and investment, and because we believe that as an organization with a base of young, wealthy people that we need to fund our own work. Having the stability of multi-year unrestricted support means that we have been able to plan for the long-term, grow our staff in sustainable ways, and increase salary and benefits. We’ve been able to prioritize supporting our cross-class, multi-racial staff through policies like 6-month paid parental leave, providing a COVID support stipend, and moving to a 32-hour work week. With general operating support we are able to follow the leadership of our members and partners by taking bold stances on wealth redistribution and lifting up radical demands that other organizations might not be able to take because of fear of upsetting their funders. Every organization, and especially BIPOC poor and working class-led organizations, should have this kind of financial stability that allows for long-term planning and expansive imagination. So, fund other organizations the way you fund RG – through multi-year general operating support.
- RG is an anchor organization: If you’ve been involved in RG, you’ve probably heard someone talk about funding the “movement ecosystem” and “anchor organizations” within those ecosystems. This is referring to the web of relationships that organizations build with each other, and the best practice of supporting many different kinds of organizations to support the health of the overall ecosystem. “Anchor organizations” are ones that are deeply intertwined with many different organizations and increase the overall strength and capacity of the network. I’m going to stake a claim (bc why not? :P) that RG is an anchor organization, especially in the ecosystem of donor organizing and social justice philanthropy. RGers have gone on to become founders of or core organizers within Regenerative Finance, Solidaire, Donors of Color Network, and Movement Voter Project. We supported the launch of Resource Movement (Canada) and Resource Justice (UK). Our members take on leadership in their family foundations, start their own social justice foundations and giving circles, or are leaders and active participants in giving projects at social justice foundations around the country. We play a unique role as youth organizers in developing a pipeline of young people with wealth who have shared values, political analysis, and commitment to wealth redistribution who then take on other leadership roles in aligned organizations. Staff and leaders in these partner organizations then also influence RG through shaping our political education, programming, and strategy. I’ve experienced a tendency within RG to downplay our work for fear of taking up too much space as wealthy people and I share this reflection in the spirit of knowing our role and playing it well. Also, playing our role as an anchor organization well and powerfully requires being in interdependent relationships.
- Follow the leadership of poor and working class people: Speaking of relationships – RG was founded with a cross-class group of board and staff who imagined a different role for young people with wealth to play in movements and we have been committed to cross-class leadership in the organization ever since. RG’s shifts during my tenure towards becoming more visible, radical, and more closely aligned with poor and working-class led organizations have all been led by poor and working class staff, board, and Advocate members. I’ve experienced many moments where a poor and working class person was the one to ask the question I was too nervous to ask/lacked imagination about what is possible for our organizing – from “why do we gather at conferences together without taking some kind of collective action while we’re there?” to “why don’t we just ask our members to give away all of their wealth?” to “why not increase our base salary to $70K?” (it’s at $60K now from $49K back in 2015 and I encourage the next ED to keep increasing it 🙂 ). I had an intellectual understanding before RG that “centering those most impacted” was the right thing to do, and had experienced being dismissed and marginalized in my identities as a queer nonbinary Asian person, but RG was my first day-to-day practice in transforming what is possible in an organization by centering the experiences and leadership of those most impacted. I owe so much gratitude to the many poor and working class staff, board, and organizational partners I’ve worked with who have held me and RG accountable to a rigorous vision and practice of the redistribution of land, wealth, and power.
There are many other lessons I’ve learned, from how important it is to be public about our stories as young wealthy people to challenge mainstream narratives about wealth accumulation to how to hold power with integrity as a person with privilege, but alas my partner has been giving me a hard time about the word count in my blog posts for years and I feel like I should listen to her this one last time.
Know that as I leave, I am so confident in and proud of our collective strength, leadership, and vision. As we plan on hiring and welcoming the new permanent Executive Director by the end of summer/early fall, please support them with the warmth, patience, and real talk with which you supported me.
I know RG will continue to grow, change, and become more complex while continuing to hold connection and relationship at its core. I trust all of you and this organization so much and will be continuing to support the work as a proud RG alumni. My time here will always be precious to me – there are no words left to say except thank you, thank you, thank you.