Imbolc is a time for planting seeds, and so it was in February last year that I started the process of setting up PaganAid.
I’d been thinking about it for some time – working in international development for over 25 years, I was only too aware that there was no pagan equivalent of the many Christian, Muslim and Jewish aid charities. I wanted there to be a charity that I could identify with, that reflected my love for Mother Earth and expressed my compassion for those suffering extreme poverty. But just as seeds will not grow unless they are planted, I realised that for my wish to be realised, I had to make it happen. My intent expressed, my real journey began.
The first phase involved a lot of research, writing and talking. Vision documents were written, financial projections drawn up, and a Board of Trustees established. PaganAid was officially formed on the Summer Solstice and we submitted our application to the Charity Commission for approval. Although we were confident that our objectives to relieve poverty and protect the environment were ‘charitable’ under UK law, we were still nervous as no pagan charity had previously been registered except for The Druid Network. Finally, the response came: we had been accepted and PaganAid was a registered charity!
Next, the hard work really began. Setting up a bank account was surprisingly fraught (we were given the run around and then rejected by two banks before the CAF Bank said yes), but the main challenge was setting up an on-line system that would manage the receipt of payments and communications with our supporters. We wanted to run with just volunteers and the lowest possible overheads, so everything had to be simple, automated and open-source. After trying out different options, we settled on using CiviCRM integrated with a WordPress website. Setting this up was a little complicated as we are an international charity, raising funds in multiple currencies, so we did hire in some technical support (Graham at MC3). With his help we have now established a simple website and database, which we can further develop over the months and years ahead.
We are almost ready to go live, to spread the word and encourage pagans everywhere to visit our website and make a donation. I’ve already started exploring projects that we can fund once we have some money in place (more on that later).
I believe that the launch of PaganAid represents a major step in the maturing of the western pagan community, a time where pagans of all paths join hands together and speak the truth of their values with pride and confidence.
24th July 2015