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  Innovation, Service, Self-Expression Signup

From Passion, to Project, to CO! Foundation

How do you create a Foundation to fund scholarships? How do you raise money for that Foundation? How do you get others involved? Just ask Barbara Wisnom, CPCC, of Albany, New York.

To her own surprise, Barb single-handedly generated over $10,000 in commitments from a group of 25 people in under 15 minutes. Then, she teamed-up with others who share her passion, and created a governing Board. A few months later, the incorporation papers were filed and the CO! Foundation was real.

How did this start?

In early 2002, Barbara Wisnom CPCC was near completion in the Co-Active Leadership Program offered by Co-Active Space. Her final project in the program was to create a community project; something that was bigger than she could accomplish alone and something that “filled a gap”. Like others in the program, she wondered, “what could that that project be?”

She looked to her passion for a clue. Barb’s coaching training, her leadership training and her coaching certification are all in the Co-Active™ model from the Coaches Training Institute. She is passionately committed to this “way of being” with clients and of acting as a leader. She knew its impact on her life, and the impact on her clients. Moreover, she knew the cost of the program.

Barb believes that this work – working with the Co-Active model – is extremely powerful. Her stake-in-the-ground was that no one who wanted to use this work should be held back due to money. She decided to raise money and create scholarships.

How did she raise the money?

Barb first “went public” with her vision to her colleagues in the leadership program. At the final retreat, each participant presented their own project, articulating their vision and stating their desired outcomes.

Then, it was Barb’s turn.

Barb used a simple technique to deeply connect everyone with her passion. She used an experiential process she had learned in leadership to get people to physically identify with each aspect of her vision. One question at a time, she invited participants to (for example) “step over here if you’re financially independent… notice who’s with you… notice who’s not… step back”; then “ step over here if you went into debt to pay for your training”, and “ step over here if you know one person who isn’t here because of money”. Using a series of about 12 questions, she enabled each person in the room to see the issue form a variety of perspectives. Then the magic happened!

What did she want?

When asked what outcome she wanted – in THAT moment – she said, “I want donations”. And everyone in the room volunteered a pledge, for a share of proceeds from workshops/products, to cash ranging from $50 to $1,000! When all was tallied, she received commitments for over $10,000! She was astonished, but others weren’t. Her passion had inspired others to action, and made her vision come alive.

Making it real

Barbara wasn’t the first to have the idea of scholarships, but it was obvious that she was much further down the path than others. The CO! Foundation was chosen as the name for this fund. Word spread to another leadership group that wanted to fund a scholarship, and a representative wanted to work with Barb to take it further forward. Together, they created an announcement for the annual retreat of The CALL (a sort of alumni association for the graduates of the Leadership Program Barb had participated in). More funds were pledged, and the leaders of the CALL asked to be included in plans for a possible formal organization.

Creating an Organization

An initial group of four was created to keep moving this project forward. These four became the founding directors when the CO! Foundation was formally incorporated in November of 2002, a little more than six months after Barb announced her vision. In addition, the incorporation of the fund provides a vehicle for the CALL to have a home for its operations, and for expanded fund raising for worthwhile projects.

What is the Foundation doing now?

The Board comprises Barbara Wisnom as President, Robert Cornish as Vice-President, Dema Garelick as Secretary, and Peter Jacobs (yours truly) as Treasurer. We meet 3-4 times per month by conference call. Efforts since last March have been focused on getting set up for business.

The Board has created a formal application for financial aid and defined the application process. Over 40 inquires about the program have been received, and about a dozen applications have been returned. The applicants have big visions, deep passion and real commitment to making things happen. The Foundation will review applications and award scholarships quarterly, starting April 1, 2003.

Like my fellow directors of the CO! Foundation, I was inspired by Barb’s commitment. I was already convinced about the power of Co-Active™ Coaching and Leadership. It was Barb’s passion that drew me to make a bigger contribution, to “give back”.
Powerful Alliances

Both the Coaches Training Institute and Co-Active Space are enthused about the development of this organization. Barb is now in discussions to establish a formal alliance to create synergy, and staffs at both organizations have been referring likely scholarship candidates.

Where from here?

As we move forward, we are developing fund-raising strategies, publicity and promotion campaigns as well as the administrative processes to keep all this together. The BIG vision includes much more than scholarships. We foresee funding major initiatives, whether established or conceptual.

The CO! FOUNDATION exists to collect and distribute funds to provide financial assistance through Scholarships to The Coaches Training Institute and Co-Active Space. It will also fund projects identified by members of the CALL (Co-Active Leaders Link). We are in conversations with the creators of “The Bigger Game” (a program to bring coaching into prisons) about fund-raising for this project.
Individual and corporate donations and grant monies will fund the foundation. In addition to financial pledges, pledges include such things as proceeds from workshops, proceeds from product sales (books, tapes, others), and offers to host fund-raising events in their area to support the work of the foundation.
What’s your dream?
Barb Wisnom had a dream, enrolled others and made it real. What can one person do?
LOTS when it harnessed to a passion! What is your passion? What could YOU do?

From the President of Coaching Toys Inc.
Coaching Toys Inc. is proud to support The CO! Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from the first edition of Q?Basics is being donated to the Foundation.
Marcy Nelson-Garrison, CPCC

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