I recently read a Veland Val Van De Wall quote that says: “The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.”

That’s why, after announcing that our first Indie Biz for Change campaign raised £1195 for charity, I wanted to take a look at where we go from here.

Because it would be easy to get caught up in the gratification of having done something positive. It would be easy to repeat the same actions in our next campaign and be content with a similar outcome. But I’m learning that to do this project justice, we must be willing to reflect on our goals and processes with honesty. And I want to be clear that there are my reflections as an individual, and I will allow Alex to give her own reflections if she wants to.

I’m proud of the money we’ve raised and grateful to every single person who donated money, volunteered their time, or shared the campaign on social media. I’ve been on the receiving end of a few compliments throughout the campaign. Several business owners thanked me for giving them the courage to talk about politics on their business accounts. There have been invitations to speak on podcasts. We raised more money than we believed we were capable of. We have a stack of digital donations bookmarked for upcoming campaigns.

But amongst those warm interactions, there have been plenty of opportunities to do better. And perhaps it was seeing that final figure of money raised that intensified the pressure to do so. You are giving us money and trusting that we are giving it to people who need it, and I am acutely aware of how tight money is for many of us right now. I’m also aware that there are a million ways you can donate that money and a million reasons why you wouldn’t want to affiliate your business with an activism campaign without knowing that the people leading that campaign are taking it seriously.

indie biz total money raised

The truth is, I’m less aware of how our money can be used to fund real, tangible change in society. But as the co-founder of Indie Biz for Change, I’m determined to try and do what I can with the knowledge I have, committing to learning as I go and being completely transparent about that process.

So with that in mind, here are some reflections on the first campaign that I couldn’t share at the time as well as some thinking points for the future.

What are we trying to do with Indie Biz for Change?

Indie Biz for Change was set up in direct response to the genocide in Gaza, which escalated after October 7th and became part of a global discourse. Like many individuals, Alex and I wanted to do something practical to raise awareness and ultimately save lives. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of selling digital products in exchange for donations.

Alex and I are keen to get entrepreneurs to use their businesses as a vehicle for change. When researching and writing my book Out of Office, I heard from various indie biz owners who started a business because the nature of capitalism made their options for traditional employment limited. For me, it was a recurring mental illness and lack of industry experience that led me to set up a freelance writing business. For others, it was a lack of flexible working, inaccessible childcare or unbearable neurotypical office culture to name a few.

In short, many business owners know that the current world order is unacceptable and goes against the needs of humanity. Yet capitalism has forced many of us to replicate those values in our own businesses, leading us to (often unknowingly) perpetuate the same patriarchal, colonialist, capitalist structures instead of seeing our business as a tool for systematic change. In the same way that putting women in positions of power doesn’t automatically lead to results that help end the oppression of all women, putting individuals who hate the system in charge of their own businesses doesn’t mean that the system has changed at all. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, and it’s certainly not coming from someone who has it all figured out. It’s simply an observation that I’ve been mulling over and would like to unravel further.

Back to what we’re trying to do with Indie Biz for Change.

What kind of change are we taking about?

This will look different for everyone, but concerning the genocide in Gaza, we felt that the thing we wanted to see most (based on emotion and intuition, nothing particularly scientific) was business owners using their social media platforms as tools for awareness and fundraising.

Is this the catch-all solution for ending oppression and tearing down the system?

Of course not, because there is no single solution that is going to do that. But in the information age, one of the simplest and most affordable things we can do is inform more people about the injustices of the world and, crucially, signpost ways to help. As business owners with online audiences, when it comes to changing minds and influencing people to take action, it makes sense to take advantage of our influence in the communities we already have a firm foot in.

For Alex and I, that means making the most of the online business community where we are known and trusted. Trust is an essential factor shaping social movements, in particular when it comes to understanding how and why mass protests emerge and are able to evolve into broader and sustained social movements.

We can influence more widely when we start communicating the need for change to people who are willing to listen to us and trust what we have to say. Short term change can be supported through fundraising efforts, like our first campaign. Defining long-term change is something that Alex and I are still figuring out.

How are we going to use the money to create change?

Initially, we planned to donate all money raised to Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP). As one of the few organisations able to deliver aid into Gaza, they’ve sent 27 trucks carrying over $3 million worth of essential medical aid through the Rafah crossing.

As we were preparing to publish our first campaign, there was little to no aid getting through the previously accessible crossings. On May 7th, MAP shared that the Rafah crossing and the Kerem Shalom crossing were both blocked by the Israeli army with no alternative crossing available. Almost all aid entering Gaza had previously gone through these crossings.

With the situation urgent, we worried that we would be unable to attract financial donations to a charity that was potentially unable to deliver aid. We also worried that any money we did raise wouldn’t be able to directly support the people who we wanted to help.

At the same time, I was personally becoming aware of the humanitarian crises that were happening simultaneously across the globe. I had been unaware and unwilling to investigate the true extent of these and was overwhelmed when I did. Understandably, there were discussions online around the readiness to speak up for the people of Palestine while the suffering of people in places like Sudan, South Sudan, Burkina Faso and beyond went seemingly unnoticed.

As a consequence, we rerouted the donations to the International Rescue Committee. Every year they create an Emergency Watch List and organise their response and funds accordingly. This meant that our campaign, which initially set out to specifically help people in Gaza, was no longer raising money for one sole cause. As a result, the language in our communications had to be altered. We didn’t want to imply that all of the money raised was going to people in Gaza, even though it may reach them, and will still go towards helping people in similarly dire situations.

This felt like the best decision at the time, although I’m not sure if we would choose to donate to them again. I do not doubt that they do excellent work, but knowing that their CEO, David Miliband, has a salary of £850,000 certainly raises some questions about how they approach the distribution of wealth within their team. When financial inequality is at the root of what we are fighting against, it feels at odds to be supporting this kind of inequality in a charitable organisation. Yet like I said earlier, there is no one perfect solution which is why I feel transparency around our thought process and decision making is important here.

Ultimately, future decisions around where we focus our fundraising efforts will come as a result of more clearly defining the change we are trying to create and the people we are trying to support. As organising such a project is completely new to me, this is something that will take time, research, reflection and conversation between Alex and me. This is something we aim to work on continually and with the feedback and support of everyone involved.

How can we be better allies?

After October 7th, I started using my business platform as a way to raise awareness about the genocide and signpost ways to help. I abandoned selling my services at the start of 2024. This was a result of declining sales and a general sense of disconnect from my work as a writing mentor and course provider. I believe the work I’ve done in this area has been beneficial to those involved and at one time, it felt like a true calling. But now, as I am unable to ignore the injustices in the world, I can feel myself being drawn towards a different path.

The path is not clear. It makes sense to use my expertise in writing and communications to get work in charitable organisations, so I’ve been spending a lot of time applying for jobs in the third sector. Although I believe my skills are entirely transferrable, I am aware that I have a lot to learn about being a good ally.

I’m aware that the majority of people associated with IB4C are white. I’m learning more about how centring whiteness in fundraising campaigns can be harmful. You might have noticed that we asked indie biz owners to wear our badge in support. As I continue to learn, I recently read that ‘donor-centric fundraising materials risk reinforcing ideas of white saviourism, and it is up to fundraisers to reframe the discussion.’

I’m currently working my way through a reading list of anti-racist books, and hope to self-fund a communications training course that will inform me further. If you’ve got any recommendations, drop them in the comments below.

In conclusion, IB4C is in its infancy and we are trying to be patient with ourselves as we figure out a way forward, while also acknowledging the urgency required in so many areas. I hope this has been informative and that if it’s right for you, you’ll continue to follow our journey along the way.

Thanks for reading. Free Palestine.