Choosing Flow Funders

Below are a variety of sample questions and letters to help you begin the Flow Funding process: What is Flow Funding?; Flow Funding Questionnaire; Flow Funding Invitation to Participate Letter; Flow Fund Welcome & Acceptance Letter; Flow Fund Guidance for Accountibility & Reporting; and Helpful Organizations. Feel free to copy and paste this text and format on your own organization's letterhead. Sections that appear [italicized] are for you to fill in with your unique information.


What is Flow Funding?

What is a Flow Fund Circle?

Philanthropy requires a certain thought process that includes strategy and due-diligence. With Flow Funding, we can move outside the normal structure and framework of proposals and evaluations, into a place of gift giving. This is a very different approach and mindset in which the giving of funds becomes an adventure as opposed to a duty or a burden.

A Flow Fund Circle is created when a non-profit organization, instead of donating funds through the usual, more traditional channels, invites a group of individuals to allocate these funds to the charities and organizations of their choice.

Flow Funders are chosen because of their professional life experience, openheartedness, visionary qualities, and the ability to discern good opportunities for funding. One of the benefits of Flow Funding is that the projects that receive funding reflect the unique spirit and fields of interest of each Flow Funder.

Flow Funding creates a form of philanthropy that is proactive (not passive), intuitive, effective, open to new possibilities, and benefiting the Funders as well as the Recipients. The core values of Flow Funding are: Generosity of Spirit, Trust, Discernment, and Community.

How it Works

Flow Funders are identified and chosen by the Board of Directors of [Name of Organization]. Flow Funders are invited to contribute a designated amount to the charities and non-profit groups of their choice in the name of [Name of Organization]. These funds are to be contributed, in increments decided by the Flow Funder, over the course of a year.

The requirements are that the Recipient groups/organizations must have 501(c)(3) status and a Tax ID Number. In addition, Flow Funders may not use the funds for any personal use, including travel, nor contribute to their own or their family's projects. At the end of the year, all the Flow Funder Circle members agree to meet, report the year's giving, and share their stories with each other. There is a minimum commitment of time required, and there is no salary offered for this service.

If these simple requirements are fulfilled and the individual Flow Funder finds this to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, then s/he will be invited to participate for an additional year (up to a term limit of three years).

Why [Name of Organization] Switched to Flow Funding

[Name of Organization] has been donating in traditional ways for over [number] years. In recent years, the main focus of our contributions has been to support [Delinate or explain the areas of interest of your organization's contributions, e.g. educational opportunities/incentives, international health care, the conservation of wilderness areas, etc.]. Flow Funding our resources will give us the opportunity to outreach to a number of new beneficiaries. By choosing Flow Funders with different experiences, wisdom, and creativity, we will broaden our areas of focus and bring more diversity to our philanthropy.

We believe that Flow Funding allows money to be contributed in a sensible and meaningful way. Flow Funding builds a sense of connection and community that grows through trust. It is a model for a more democratic form of philanthropy, which allows initiators and visionaries an opportunity to decide how money is distributed to the projects and endeavors that they believe in. This reminds us of the possibility that each and every one of us can effect change in the world.

"May the gifts move through increased hands until all people experience the abundance of life." ~ Marion Rockefeller Weber, Flow Fund Originator

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Flow Funding Questionnaire

Welcome to the Flow Fund Circle.  I am thrilled that you will be joining my circle of visionaries that have accepted the responsibility and joy of giving away money in the world for three years to projects and people that touch your heart.  I would appreciate receiving your answers to this questionnaire. 

  • Why do you wish to become a member of the Flow Fund Circle (FFC)?
  • Why is this a good time for you to become more engaged in philanthropy?
  • Please give us a general indication of the direction in which this money would go.
  • Do you understand that there is no salary available for FFC participants and that funds cannot be used for your travel, your own or relatives’ projects?  This is not a job but rather an opportunity to practice generosity in the world.
  • What have you supported in the past either with your time or your money?
  • It is a high priority that this money is given to people and projects in other countries.  Will you be traveling?
  • You will need to receive this money through a 501(c)(3) organization.  Please send us a copy of the IRS tax determination letter and the address of the organization.
  • Are you willing to attend our annual meeting?
  • Are you willing to send all the other FFC members a report two weeks prior to our meeting detailing the names, addresses, including websites if available and the amount given to each recipient as well as an indication of what inspired, moved and challenged you while flow funding.
  • This work is not for everyone.  Do you see any possible personal difficulty in doing this work?
  • Do you have your own set of funding guidelines established?  If you do, please attach a copy to the questionnaire.  If no, please attach five characteristics that are important to you about projects you would like to support.  When you develop your funding guidelines please send them to us.
  • Please include a short biography and your photograph with this questionnaire.

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Flow Funding Invitation to Participate Letter


City, State, Zip

Dear _______________,

You are one of the [number] people that we have invited to serve as a Flow Fund Circle Member for [year]. You have been chosen to join our Circle because of your life experience, your philosophy and ethics, and for your generosity of spirit. We feel you are in a good position to effectively discern where a financial gift could have a transformative effect on a variety of different organizations, situations and/or community projects that are within your personal interest and understanding.

For [year], we envision each Flow Fund Circle Member (FFCM) being allocated [$ amount] for contribution purposes. We request that these funds be distributed during the first eleven months of [your organization's fiscal year]. We suggest that you consider allocating these funds to the charities and/or organizations of your choice periodically throughout the year, rather than making a one-time contribution or donating your complete allocation to one recipient.

We are planning the first FFCM meeting for [time and date] in [city and state]. At this meeting, we will discuss how you will obtain the funding and guidelines for report accountability. At a date that will be announced closer to the end of our fiscal year, we will have another meeting to present our yearly reports. At this gathering, we will share outreach work, as well as the meaning and process behind our contribution choices. We are deeply interested in what we can learn as a group as well as from each other individually.

We hope you will be able to join us and participate in our FFCM for [year]. If you accept, please fill out the enclosed questionnaire and send it back to us.

Most sincerely,

[Name of Organization]

Director of Flow Fund Operations

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Flow Fund Welcome & Acceptance Letter


Dear [Name],

We are happy to welcome you as one of our newest Flow Fund Circle Members (FCCMs).

We appreciate your acceptance of our invitation to join our Flow Fund Circle. We are pleased that you will be joining our circle of visionaries and have accepted both the responsibility and joy of contributing to the projects and people that touch your heart.

Along with your acceptance, we would appreciate a short, personal biography for our Foundation records.

We would also appreciate receiving your answers to the following questions:

  • Can you allocate the time to attend our annual Flow Fund Circle meeting to share your experiences with the other FFCMs?
  • Are you willing to meet with other FFCMs and submit a report detailing the names, addresses (including websites, if available), and the amounts allocated to each recipient, as well as an indication of what inspired, moved, or challenged you while making your decisions?

The mission of creating a Flow Fund Circle is to increase trust, empowerment, and compassion in the world by allowing resources to flow through new eyes and new hands. The more new funder there are, the more diverse the funding. Thank you for joining us!

I accept your invitation to join [Name of Oranization's] Flow Fund Circle for [year].

Signed _______________________________ Date _____________

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Flow Funding Guidelines for Accountability & Reporting

It is up to every Flow Fund Circle Member (FFCM) to decide what is most important to learn and understand about how their donations flow out into the world.

It is agreed that Flow Funders will not be reimbursed for any personal expenses, including travel to locate/research a possible Recipient, nor can any allocation be made to your own, or family-related project. At the end of the year, the FFCM agrees to meet and share their stories and submit a report to other FFCMs.

Once you decide upon a contribution, there are a few requirements necessary for [Name of Organization] to issue a check. For each and every Flow Fund Recipient you choose, we must receive a request by either mail or e-mail with:

  • Complete name, address, phone number and website (when available) of the proposed Recipient.
  • The amount you wish to contribute to the proposed Recipient.
  • The Tax ID number of the proposed Recipient (NOTE: [Name of Organization] may only legally contribute to organizations that have 501(c)(3) status.

Once this missive is received, the amount you donate to the proposed Recipient will be deducted from your yearly Flow Fund Allotment.

We would prefer if you choose not to donate your entire year's amount to one charity or organization. We also request that you consider spreading your allocations out over the first eleven months of the fiscal year, rather than submitting all donations at one time. All donation checks must be issued by [date of the close of your Organization's Fiscal Year].

There is no required format for your Year-End Report to the Flow Fund Circle. These reports may vary as much as the individual FFCMs and their selected outreach choices during the year. This is a learning experience for all involved. At the Year-End Meeting, we would appreciate a list of all funds dispersed, including the Recipients' names, addresses, telephone numbers, websites (when available), as well as the amount each Recipient received, and a brief description of how each gift was used. This list can then be shared with the other FFCMs.

Some additional guidelines and suggestions include:

  • What were your challenges in doing this work over the past year?
  • What inspired you?
  • Has your worldview changed by doing this work?
  • What advice would you pass on to the other Flow Funders?

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Helpful Organizations

Flow Donors may want to look beyond his or her own circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances for Flow Funders.  There are many organizations that could help guide a Donor in the direction of potential Flow Funders.

The organizations below recognize the contribution of social innovators and visionaries.  The people they choose have been through a thorough nomination and application process, with reference checks to verify their achievements and character.  Recipients of these awards and fellowships are likely to have the life experience and personal characteristics to be good Flow Funders.  The staff at these organizations are also potential Flow Funders:

Goldman Prize
Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program
Right Livelihood Award

The organizations below strive to apply spiritual and religious values to issues of peace and justice. The staff and members of these organizations are potential Flow Funders:

Fellowship of Reconciliation
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Church of God Peace Fellowship
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Jewish Peace Fellowship
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

There are hundreds of organizations with volunteers who work in situations of war, poverty and other humanitarian crisis. The staff and program affiliates of these organizations are potential flow funders:

Nonviolent Peaceforce
American Friends Service Committee
Doctors Without Borders (Medicine sans Frontieres)
Amigos de las Americas
SEVA Foundation
CORD: International Peacebuilding, Relief & Development Organization

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