By Erika Murcia, a Mesoamerican Two-Spirit storyteller and poet

Even under the layers and layers of conditioning of modernity, our bodies, beyond the human, always remember our inherent truth. Our sacredness, our abundance.

Fundraising has run in my veins since I was in my mother’s womb. I have had all the job titles that one can have in the nonprofit and fundraiser sector in what is now known as Latino America: volunteer, facilitator, coordinator, fundraiser, translator, educator, and regional office director, just to mention a few. 

Since I was in college, I had the privilege of first-hand exposure to the realities of most communities that have been “intervened” transgenerationally by Western donor-centric perspective experience. 

I have been a traveler in those roles. And also in deep connection with these ecological sacred relationships. I have supported grassroots women-led initiatives, programs, and cooperatives in El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil, and Colombia. In these roles, I collaborated with folx who were reclaiming space to undo racism, gender-based violence, and colonialism.

And many times, I got burnt out.

And I wanted, as we say in Spanish, “tirar la toalla.” I wanted to quit.

I temporarily quit. 

But the Great Spirit kept guiding me towards a crossroads where I kept confronting a profound root of why my voice in this labor is sacred. 

I spent hours, months, and years doing somatic therapy with many healers including a social worker, and a few stories kept coming back. Stories rooted in the exotification of victimhood, and oppression from the conditioning of scarcity¹ by the “savior complex” of the nonprofit industrial complex. Stories telling me that my worth depended on how far I could go to do my job so that my white boss, white colleagues, and white board members from the United States could approve of me and maybe let me stay one more year in the job. 

But my body knows. Our bodies know.

I was a bridge for many years 

When I crossed over to the United States to share stories with old and potential new donors, I could see the material wealth of my colleagues in their country. I could also see the culture of whiteness pervasively taking so much energy from the people whose material reality was on the other end of that spectrum. I began to notice the projected systemic guilt at its core. And I asked myself, Am I being part of the problem? Am I not speaking enough? Am I internalizing a pattern of “white saviorism” through border crossing?

One of the things an ex-boss told me (years ago) when I approached him with a concern about the behaviors of a few students from a private Catholic college leading immersion trips was, Erika, you have to learn to bite your tongue…

I felt a rage that could burn the entire world. And I quit that job because I did not want this rage to consume me. I needed to channel this fire purposefully. I’ve intentionally chosen to cocreate a path in which I could shed all the masks I wore due to this scarcity pattern.

I was a bridge that could observe many of the root causes of the huge gap between the so-called “first world countries” and the “third world countries” (a very annoying, limiting binary). Now, I’m intending to weave crossroads.

I am grateful for the friends and colleagues who offered their solidarity during these shapeshifting journeys.

Choosing a path that embraces healing has been creatively challenging, but every day I keep offering gratitude because, in my role as a consultant, I do not have to deal with a boss who tells me how to exist in any area of my life. I feel more creative freedom. This is a responsible choice with my heart’s intent. This is the art of reclaiming sovereignty in the collaborations I am cultivating and weaving across borders.

After decades in this journey as a traveler fundraiser, I have realized that donor-centric, white-centric nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, and fundraisers enact a continuum of colonial thinking and grounding patterns that maintain and reinforce hegemonic structures of marginalization by “replicating” projects with neo-colonial development indicators. These colonial patterns can become a barrier to structural transformation when mending transgenerational money trauma because many nonprofit organizations overlook the transgenerational historical context and cultural values of the communities and ecologies where they impose their work. Many pervasively continue to tell a one-sided story. A story of scarcity.

Can we remember that Indigenous people (in what is now known as Latino America) have resisted through generations the invasion of our lands and its resources? We are not waiting for your charity but for your authentic solidarity. 

Even under the layers and layers of conditioning of modernity, our bodies, beyond the human, always remember our inherent truth. Our sacredness, our abundance.

Honoring what I bring to reclaiming connection with our Creative Voice

I believe that alternative approaches to fundraising at the grassroots level are a way of infusing collective care rooted in the inherent value of abundance. These approaches include:

  • When we center the community’s sovereignty; 
  • When we center the ancestral standpoint of community members and their ecologies; and
  • When we share stories uplifting the voices from the bottom-up, at the grassroots level.

To honor the value of abundance from Earth Mother, at the end of each month cycle when I have to pay bills, I write a gratitude letter to the Heart of the Sky, to the Heart of Earth Mother, and my heart. This is a creative praxis I have embodied for various seasons now. 

I was guided by spiritual mentors from my communities to explore the creative power within me and to find transformative healing through reconnecting with my inner voice as an Indigenous Two-Spirit being. I was allowed to reclaim love, pleasure, and collectives at the center of my work and life. And this guidance was to pass it along to those who cross my path.

You, who are reading this now. 

I want to invite you all  – Black, Indigenous, people of color, and Queer people working in the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors – to take a moment: 

  • Set up a small altar with tokens that are spiritually meaningful for you. Light some Salvia, Palo Santo, or the incense that represents your ancestral practices.
  • Sit in front of your altar, away from your computer, away from your phone. Bring paper, colored pencils, and warm herbal tea.
  • And write a letter to your heart, to your hands, to your ancestors, offering gratitude for all that you learned and received in the Gregorian year of 2023. 

Before you share this practice with anyone else, cultivate it within you on a seasonal basis. This letter must celebrate your resilience, creativity, and resourcefulness in 2023. You can place it on your altar or put it somewhere you can access it. Inspire yourself to continue doing this labor, embodying humility, honesty, and courage. But never ever silencing your wild tongues. (So named by Gloria Anzaldua in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.”)

Here are a few invitations for introspective reflection on your stories of abundance:

  • In 2023, Who did you embody solidarity with? 
  • In what small and big ways will you voice your wild tongues moving forward?
  • What stories of abundance do you want to bring into your walk this 2024? 
  • What are other creative practices that remind you that money is only one way to resource our movements? 

Let’s continue reclaiming our wild tongues rooted in our traditional lineages. 

In solidarity,
Erika Murcia

If you enjoyed “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa, check out her full collection of essays and poems, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.


¹Understood as an impoverished framework that centers the narratives of othering and discrimination through stereotypes that intend to take away the dignity of those ecologies that whiteness is pretending “to save.”

Erika Murcia

Erika Murcia

Erika Murcia is a Two-Spirit Mesoamerican storyteller, Poet, and Acompañante of Rites of Passage. Cocreator of Somos Semillas, We Are Seeds podcast. Support my creative labor by joining Sanadora Práctica Creativa’s poetic letter or buy me a high-quality coffee at PayPal.Me/erikamurcia8.

Follow my stories on Instagram at @sanadora.practica.creativa and @mujeryselva.