Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thanks ... PART 1: Thanks Again!

Thanks ...

PART 1: Thanks Again!

On a recent excursion into the “wilds” of a city park with Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum of Azamra, a practitioner of the chassidus (mystical practices of Judaism), the Rav (an honorific term) gave us a “formula” for constructing a session of hitbodedut, the practice promoted by the great Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. It involves going out regularly and frequently into nature and speaking out loud directly to God. His suggestion was a “please” sandwich on “thanks”, (mayo and pickle, or not): begin with “thanks” and end with “thanks”, with “please” sandwiched in the middle.

“Is there a difference in the quality of the first “thanks” and the second “thanks”? I asked.

The answer is covered in fund raising 101: when there is a previous donor, one thanks initially for the past gift and ... makes a case for the current need (“please”) ... and, finally, thanking the, hopefully, renewing donor.

Nonetheless, my mind was inquiring from a deeper perspective of a spiritual relationship, and from within I will examine the distinction of “thanks” in two blog-parts (blog-ettes?).

Part 1 ... Thanks Again!

In the case of the first “thanks”, I feel we are coming from a “narrow” place. While we are humbly appreciative of everything we have been given to date, we wake up yet another day to find that it has not been “enough”. We feel depleted, lacking, even hungry and are asking again, for new, more, extra.


Perhaps, but fund raising professionals know that, unlike fishing (for fish) it’s more cost-effective (and perhaps lucrative) to spend our resources sustaining current donors than reeling in new ones. Thus, we continue to ask the same folks for support.

The Holy Beggar doesn’t profess to have long-term memory. I’ve never seen a HB sign that says, “Thanks for your past support.” or “I remember you helped me once before. Please help, again.” Rather, the plea is, “Hungry. Will work for food. God bless.”

Despite this fact, I’ve found that once I give even a little to the Hungry Beggar, I feel some type of “relationship” has begun. S/He stands on s/his spot day after day, simply asking for help. When I don’t see s/him, I might wonder (1) Has s/he taken ill or died, (2) My few pennies worked wonders! There’s no need! or (3) My pennies weren’t enough. S/He has moved on.

In the case of the latter, my simple gesture of giving, with its attendant entitlement of relationship, is cause for concern. Was my initial gift a tease. Did I offer hope of more and then let the Holy Beggar down?

Important questions when considering institutional appeals. Research has shown that people are now giving to people, not to institutions and organizations.

What can we learn from the Holy Beggar? Perhaps it’s not as important to project responsible stewardship, donor recognition, etc. Making our appeals personal will do wonders. We need to reach deeply into the souls of our “markets” (course but true term). When our patrons don’t hear from us, do they wonder, "What happened to that organization I helped once? I need to see if they are still doing that great work ..."

In our dreams!?

Well, maybe there's something to that "dream" thing. Perhaps this the future: high-tech virtual fund raising with no past karmic relationship implied.

To be Continued ...

No matter what, Don’t Forget to Ask for the Money!

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