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April 12, 2019

Dear Friends of Karmê Chöling,

Karmê Chöling celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020. We have been a safe haven for thousands of meditation students to practice and study the profound depths of Kagyü, Nyingma and Shambhala Buddhism in the quiet hills of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. 

Between now and the 2020 celebrations Karmê Chöling faces tough financial decisions.

Based on program attendance in the last quarter of 2018; in December we predicted a 20 to 25% drop in 2019. In the first quarter of 2019 this was actually closer to 50% in most programs, with a total net loss of $153,330. 

As a result of the generous donations at the end of 2018, we began 2019 in the black. By April we have run out of our reserves. Anticipating this, at the beginning of March we began phoning all the leading Heart of the Tiger Capital Campaign donors to let them know that we needed to end the capital campaign and to ask them what they would be able to do to assist Karmê Chöling with the donations already given to the campaign. 

From these individual donors, after subtracting satisfied releases, a total of $178,150 was readily repurposed to operational expenses to help sustain us while we determined the most fiscally responsible next steps. Words cannot adequately convey our heartfelt gratitude for the immediate, spontaneous offering from each of these individuals. Their generosity speaks to their deep appreciation of Karmê Chöling and their desire for it to continue. Other donors have been contacted by email and there may well be further campaign donations yet to be repurposed.

It is difficult to predict how or when attendance at programs will increase, even with new programming. Assuming the current trend will continue, with the uncertainty existing across Shambhala, taking into consideration the repurposed capital campaign donations, we will still need $220,000 by the end of year to keep operating.  We would then continue to run at a loss at the beginning of 2020. Between December 2019 and April 2020, we calculate a loss of $254,500 if Karmê Chöling continues normal operations under the current conditions.

Such a situation is fiscally untenable and demands prudent, creative measures, thinking outside the box. In consultation with our financial advisors and with the agreement of the Interim Board, we have decided for the time being to shift to a seasonal model similar to that of Dorje Denma Ling, beginning in November 2019. With reduced staffing in the winter, the net loss between November and April is reduced to approximately $56,000 which we hope to cover in donations.

Some of the Karmê Chöling staff will remain on-site during this winter session when programs are not offered in order to maintain the facilities, continue planning and recruit staffing for programming beginning in late April or early May. While the extensive details for accomplishing this transition have yet to be determined, we wanted to share this information with you as quickly as possible.

No one would have predicted the necessity of this decision a year ago. The circumstances underpinning it are profoundly saddening. Yet adversity can result in regeneration, with the 50th anniversary of the birth of Karmê Chöling inspiring fresh, new ideas for the summer session of 2020. We invite all of our Karmê Chöling friends to let us know what would meet your needs for Shambhala Buddhist practice, study and community, and how you might like to participate in Karmê Chöling’s future.

Coincidentally this will be achieved with a new Executive Director. By November 2019 I will have been at Karmê Chöling almost 6 years. After careful consideration of what would best serve the interests of Karmê Chöling, I have decided to step aside so that a new director can bring their energy, vision, skills, and love of Karmê Chöling to the transformation of Shambhala in this corner of the green hills of Vermont. A search committee chaired by Ms. Caroline DeMaio will soon invite applications.

Thank you for your patience and love as we move forward with great care and tenderness.

With gratitude,

Myra Woodruff
Executive Director
Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center



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