Karuna Fundraisers

Appreciating and Remembering Tim Lilley

On Mon, 9 January, 2023 - 15:07
Karuna's picture

We were sad to hear that Tim Lilley, one of the founders of Aid for India, the charity that has since become Karuna, passed away on the 21st of December 2022. 

Tim was instrumental in setting up the first Aid for India fundraising campaigns in the early 1980s, working closely with Kulamitra to introduce door-to-door fundraising into the early Movement. Together they laid the foundations for Karuna as it exists today and introduced many of the radical approaches that still underpin the charity’s work. 

Everyone who knew Tim will remember him as a flamboyant person with lots of energy, drive, and enthusiasm. Tim had worked as a professional fundraiser and, within a few years, he and Kulamitra were recruiting teams of volunteers and leading appeals generating hundreds of thousands of pounds for the newly established social projects of the Triratna Movement in India. He also believed passionately in Team-Based Right Livelihood and saw the potential for fundraising to become a powerful tool for spiritual transformation and the creation of Sangha. When the first appeals started, Tim would go out on the doors with the volunteer fundraisers. He had a fantastic ability to work with fundraisers to fine tune their approach in sometimes quite subtle ways. He had the courage and boldness to set people targets and challenge them, sometimes with the unorthodox style of a Zen master. For example, Kulamitra recalls Tim coaching him to take a more relaxed posture on the doorstep, leaning against the door frame rather than standing face-on; this tiny adjustment was enough to bring about a sudden improvement in his fundraising results. Tim’s approach of fundraising as spiritual practice was extremely popular and effective, and he established some of the principles that are still used today. 

Now, forty years later, many millions of pounds have been raised through Karuna door-to-door appeals bringing improved education, health, and livelihood prospects to many millions of people in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Not only that, but hundreds of Order Members, Mitras, and Friends regard Karuna Appeals as a vitally effective part of their spiritual path. None of this could have happened without the pioneering work Tim and Kulamitra did in those early years. 

As well as pioneering and leading the fundraising, Tim put in place the office systems needed to manage the funds generated through the appeals. He brought in a new generation of people to help him run things. By the end of 1982, he had handed over his responsibilities so that he could start his own fundraising consultancy business, which is still running today. Around this time, Tim left the FWBO to pursue the remainder of his spiritual life as a disciple within Sogyal Rinpoche’s Rigpa Sangha.  

Tim was a dedicated Padmasambhava and Vajrasattva practitioner. He has two daughters, Clare and Jo, who are keen to let anyone who may have known him know of his death and funeral arrangements. His funeral will be on 19th January in Skipton, Yorkshire. 

By Suddhaka - Karuna, Head of Programmes.

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parami's picture

I remember Tim well.  Quite a character.  I wish his daughters well and will think of him on Thursday