About the Southwest Buddhafield Endowment
The Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund was conceived to
provide significant help with the annual operating costs of
The Garchen Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious
organization in Chino Valley, Arizona, and thereby
contribute to the Institute's long-range financial solvency.
The Garchen Institute was established via funding from two
principal donors, but no provision was made for its
operating costs. The Institute currently generates operating
income from teachings, donations, bookstore/webstore
revenues, raffles/auctions, and rental of the facilities,
but this income is not always adequate to cover costs. Fees
at the Institute are intentionally kept low, so that people
from all walks of life may participate and none will be
Our heartfelt desire is to perpetuate His Eminence Garchen
Rinpoche's vision of maintaining The Garchen Institute as a
teaching and retreat facility for many years to come. This
will allow his beneficent teachings and the Drikung Kagyu
Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to continue and flourish in
Our goal is to create an endowment fund of $2 million
dollars and use the annual interest income to help defray
the ongoing operating expenses of the Institute.
Jacki Elder, Bill O'Brien, Will Evans and H.E. Garchen
during the 2007 Vajrakilaya Drubchen
Letter from the Director
April 2, 2007
To The Noble Sangha,
We are so fortunate to have met Chenrezig Garchen Rinpoche.
For many of us, he is like the sun itself— things seem to be
golden and pink, instead of black and white, when he is with
us. Tea tastes better, we ourselves are kinder, even the
earth seems softer in his presence.
Every place Rinpoche has taught seems to carry a bit of this
glow, as people really try to put his teachings of
loving-kindness into practice. At the Garchen Buddhist
Institute in Arizona, this warmth is tangible. Blessings
radiate from the stupa, the temple, the disciples, and the
land itself. Rinpoche has said that the Garchen Institute is
very dear to his heart, and you can feel it. This land is a
mandala of kindness, a physical manifestation of Gar
Rinpoche’s mind. This is why many of us call it The
The Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund has been
established to support the Garchen Buddhist Institute, and
ensure its future. And it is one way to attempt to repay
Garchen Rinpoche’s inconceivable kindness to us. Following
is a look at our history so far, our mission, how the
Endowment Fund is set up, and how to donate.
In the fall 2007, Jacki Elder of Tucson contacted me
about joining her in setting up the Southwest Buddhafield
Endowment Fund, Inc. The endowment is a registered 501c3
non-profit since 1/29/2007.
Mission and Structure
Our mission is to create an endowment fund of $2 million to
generate interest income that will provide for ongoing
operating expenses for the Garchen Buddhist Institute in
Chino Valley, Arizona. This is needed so that the Institute
may continue in perpetuity. The Southwest Buddhafield
Endowment Fund is a nonprofit corporation, legally separate
from the Garchen Institute. Funds for the endowment are
being invested with AG Edwards in Pasadena, California,
where our investment strategy will be conservative and
socially conscious. No Endowment Fund monies, other than
minimal business and legal expenses, will be spent until $2
million has been raised. At that time, while continuing to
grow the fund, money will be disbursed regularly to the
Garchen Institute to cover operating expenses. This will be
vital to the Institute’s survival, because like many dharma
centers, finances at the Institute are always
challenging—despite the unrelenting efforts of the
bodhisattva staff, most of whom are not paid.
Our Board of Directors currently consists of three people:
Jacki Elder of Tucson, Arizona;
Will Evans of Livermore,
Colorado; and Bill O’Brien
of Aurora, Colorado.
Ultimately, our mission is to serve Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche
by securing the future of his precious land and center, the
Garchen Buddhist Institute. You may have read Gar Rinpoche’s
comments on the
Endowment Fund. A video of this teaching, which was filmed
with Rinpoche this past December at the stupa, available on
DVD and on our
Donating to the Southwest Buddhafield
To the many disciples who have already donated, thank you so
much! Due to your generosity, we are off to a good start.
Following is a brief look at donating to the Fund. All
donations are tax deductible as the Endowment is a
registered 501c3 non-profit organization.
Donors to the Endowment Fund will, in addition to immense
merit, receive gifts in appreciation. For donations up to
$1000, a beautiful decal designed by Gar Rinpoche will be
given. For gifts of $1000 or more, donors may choose to
become a Tara! Jacki Elder described this wonderful
opportunity in a recent message, but here is a brief review
of Arya Tara’s involvement in the project!
A large and marvelous White Tara thangka was recently
purchased for Rinpoche, and it hangs in the temple at the
Garchen Institute. Surrounding the central deity are many
smaller White Tara images, some within rainbow orbs. When
your donations equal $1000 or more, you may choose to be a
Tara in that thangka. You will also receive artwork that
includes the new Tara prayer composed by Garchen Rinpoche.
This artwork is being designed by Bill O’Brien, Endowment
Fund board member and creator of the recent Garchen
Institute calendar images. The artwork will be suitable for
framing, and we hope to have each copy blessed by Rinpoche.
A gift of $5000 or more enters the donor, as Tara, into one
of the rainbow spheres on the thangka. We hope that Dharma
centers might give group donations for their center to
become either a Tara or one of these “rainbow” Taras. If you
are interested in coordinating a fundraiser for your center,
please let us know. Dharma centers in New York, Albuquerque,
and Boulder have done so already, and a splendid time was
had by all!
We are working on different ways to donate: by electronic
funds transfer from checking accounts, by credit card, and
through designating the Endowment Fund in your will. Jacki,
Bill, and I are new at this and learning as we go, so please
bear with us as we set up these methods to donate. All
current was to donate and contribute are
I wanted to say a little about how we view raising this
large sum of money. First, your prayers for the fulfillment
of Rinpoche’s wishes are as important as money. Our sincere
hope is that many disciples will contribute their prayers,
and small amounts of money, regularly. Thus, over time, a
tremendous karmic and financial momentum will be created—and
the merit will be widely shared. The loving samaya this will
generate will surely bring immense benefit! If you can send
$20 or $50 a month regularly, that would be a real help. If
250 of Rinpoche’s disciples were to contribute $50 a month
for one year, that would equal $150,000, and if we continued
that for five years, we would have $750,000 plus interest.
We deeply appreciate, and need, donors who can contribute
small amounts regularly. If you are able to give a larger
amount, please consider doing so more than once!
Currently, the best way to donate is to send a check to
either Jacki or myself. Our addresses are below. Your check
should be made out to, “Southwest Buddhafield Endowment
Fund.” A letter for tax purposes will be sent at the end of
In closing, I wanted to share a recent encounter with Gar
Rinpoche. When I spoke with him this February about the
Endowment Fund, he said, “I am concerned that when I die,
the Garchen Institute will undergo great hardship. Please do
whatever you can to make sure it survives for hundreds, or
even thousands, of years! This will be of great benefit to
While Rinpoche was matter of fact in saying this, I felt, as
you can understand, broken-hearted. This feeling has been
replaced by a sense of urgency about fulfilling Rinpoche’s
wishes. The Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund has been
established with a pure motivation, and it really will help
ensure that Gar Rinpoche’s message will bring benefit far
into the future. It would be wonderful indeed to present the
full $2 million fund to Gar Rinpoche while he is still with
us to rejoice in it!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please contact
me if you have questions. I look forward to working together
on this noble project!
Will Evans, Director
Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund
Why an Endowment?
sometimes ask us this question, and we have been thinking
about how to answer it. There seem to be three principal
reasons for establishing the Endowment Fund: for the benefit
of others in the future, to fulfill Garchen Rinpoche's
wishes, and to bring about our own benefit.
Institute is intended to benefit others, and so far it has
done so in an amazing way. Due to the incredible generosity
of some of Rinpoche's disciples, the Garchen Institute was
built. For the Institute to remain, it must become
financially stable. For now, things seem to work pretty
well-- we arrive and people are kind to us, the lights work
and the food is great. We can receive precious teachings and
blessings, and even shop a bit! But the situation is
actually quite fragile. The Institute runs on pure heart and
a level of effort by the few staff that is probably
unsustainable in the long run. Financially, the Garchen
Institute runs on a shoestring. How long can it go on with
an unpaid director, staff members who do not receive health
insurance, and an uncertain income? When Garchen Rinpoche is
not in residence, the income slows to a trickle. For people
in the future to be able to encounter Rinpoche's heart mind,
which is this center, we must make it stable.
A second response
to "why an endowment" is to fulfill Garchen Rinpoche's
vision. Rinpoche regards the Garchen Institute as no
different from his heart, and it is his deepest wish that it
become stable and continue for centuries for the benefit of
beings. If our holy guru wishes it, we must do it! It would
be wonderful if we could offer a completed endowment fund,
and the promise it gives to the Garchen Institute, to
Rinpoche while he is alive to receive it.
establishing the endowment fund brings about our own
benefit. The merit of helping the endowment is
inconceivable. The teachings say that merit dedicated to
others for their enlightenment is like a drop of water put
into the ocean-- it becomes vast and is never lost. The
endowment will become like an ocean. Our donations will stay
as part of it for as long as it exists, growing as the
endowment grows, and bringing benefit to so many. This is
truly the gift that keeps on giving, and the merit we accrue
will continue as well-- and for most of us, we probably need
Those of us working
on the Endowment are committed to making it happen, no
matter how long it takes. We are working very hard to make
sure the fund is set up to accomplish exactly what Rinpoche
wants, which is the ongoing financial support of the Garchen
Institute. Please contact any of us if you would like to
discuss what we are doing, and look for upcoming information
about our policies and progress.
Many thanks for
Will Evans, Bill
O'Brien and Jacki Elder
Board Members of
the Southwest Buddhafield Endowment Fund
Board of Directors
Evans has been a Buddhist practitioner for more than
25 years. His root teachers are Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa
Rinpoche and Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche, whom he met in 1997.
Will has served as a meditation instructor and teacher in
the Shambhala community for 20 years, has directed several
Dharma groups, and is now practicing under Garchen
Will has been an elementary school
teacher—and in the sixth grade!—for twenty years.
Will's aspiration for the rest of this life
is to help Garchen Rinpoche in whatever way he can, and to
eventually spend as much time as possible in retreat.
Elder met His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche in Tucson in
1997 when he gave his first teachings in the United States.
She has been sitting at his feet ever since. Jacki's primary
service to Rinpoche has been helping to fundraise for the
start of The Garchen Institute in Chino Valley, Arizona, as
well as for four elementary schools in Kham, Tibet.
Jacki began serving as a Coordinator for The
Garchen Institute in 1999, and she served as Treasurer of
the Board of Directors from January 2004 until July 2005.
Jacki currently sits on the Board of Directors of Arizona
Friends of Tibet and helped to bring His Holiness the Dalai
Lama to Tucson in 2005.
Jacki is the owner of Performance Nutrition,
a nutrition counseling firm she has run since 1988. She also
has been a faculty member of Andrew Weils' Integrative
Medicine Program since 1999. Jacki is married to Sandy Elder
(the Stupa Engineer for the Southwest Buddahfield). Her
three children include Hank, Angus, and Abao.
O'Brien has been a dharma practitioner for more than
15 years and has received teachings from all 4 schools of
Tibetan Buddhism. He met H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in 1997 and
has since held him as his root lama. Bill has humbly served
the Garchen Buddhist Institute as webmaster for Garchen.net
since 2005 and produced art for the 2006 calendar.
He has also served as the President of the
Colorado Ratnashri Sangha in 2006 and has been a director of
the Aurora Ratnashri Sangha since 2001. Bill works as an engineer for Qwest
Communications. His wife, Kelly, also humbly serves the
Garchen Buddhist Institute in various capacities. They have
2 children, Choying and Tsomo, whom work in he kitchen when
ever they visit.