Asking for money - your fears and how to deal with them
Asking people for money is both the most difficult and the most important part of fundraising. Nearly every Jewish organization uses a variety of methods to ask for money. For Jewish societies these might include writing letters to parents, organising charity events, organising raffles and bring-and-buy sales, and so on. Perhaps the hardest way for a Jewish society to raise funds is for activists to ask people directly for donations. Yet experience has shown that face-to-face (or perhaps telephone) solicitation of prospective donors can bring in more money than any other kind of fund-raising.
SOURCES OF OUR FEARS
Asking a person for money face-to-face is an acquired taste. Few people love to do it initially. In fact, most people are afraid to do it. If you are afraid to ask for money, that's normal. If you are not afraid, that's great. Stop reading this and go ask somebody for a donation to help fly a truly world-class speaker over from Israel!
People are afraid to ask for money for a wide variety of reasons. At least one of the most common is the simple fact that (outside of Israel perhaps) money is regarded as a slightly taboo topic. It is considered rude to ask people how much they earn, or to lend you money, or to talk about money in any way. Obviously though it is important to overcome this in order to ask for the money that is needed to run important and worthwhile Jewish student activities.
REASONS FOR FEAR AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM
There are fairly standard reasons that people are scared to ask directly for money. Many of them, upon examination, are either pretty unlikely to happen, or not that difficult for most people to deal with if they do happen, or to avoid with good preparation. The last kind of reason for fear is those that are realistic. There are some things that those asking for money will just have to learn to cope with for the greater good of raising valuable funds for their organisation.
"The person will yell at me (or hit me)."
This just isn't very likely to happen, let's face it.
"I know the person doesn't have the money."
The obvious first step is to do your homework. It is possible to check if somebody has money before approaching them. But remember don't use this as an excuse to avoid asking - people can often give small amounts.
"I don't know if my group really deserves the money as much as some other groups might."
It is important for a Jewish student activist to do clarify their own thinking on their group. If you don't think that your group deserves support don't ask for money. But remember it isn't as if you are competing directly with starving babies from the Third World. Donors are often choosing between Jewish causes, or between community groups.
"The person will ask me questions about the organization that I can't answer."
Do your homework, so that you can answer simple questions. Be prepared to say that you don't know the answers to some questions - and just promise to find out. Nobody expects you to know everything.
Will happen but Easy to Cope With
"The person will say 'yes' and then ask me for money for his or her cause."
If this happens you shouldn't be in too much of a bad situation. Most students don't have money to give - if you are a pitiful Jewish student activist, well, how could you give money? If you could afford to but don't want to, ask for more details to read, and take your time before committing to anything.
"The person will give me the money; but won't really want to, and will resent me."
Don't let this get to you. If somebody agrees it is because they want to do it at the time, or they want to get rid of you. If they just want to get rid of you, you are probably being a bit too heavy - tone it down a bit. If they give because they want to at the time, with a free will and no threats being made, well, you are just responsible for persuading them to perform a real mitzvah.
It will happen - Learn to Cope
"The person will think that the only reason I was nice to them was to get money."
This isn't going to be a problem if it isn't true. This is because you will still be nice to the person long after you have asked for money - regardless of what they say to you. If you have only been nice to the person because you wanted to ask for money, you shouldn't mind too much that they think this. Remember, either way, you aren't doing it for yourself but for an important cause.
"It is imposing on our friendship for me to ask, and we won't be friends anymore."
If a friend or family friend or whoever asked you for money you might get irritated. On the other hand you might not. Some people prefer not to ask friends - for students this shouldn't be hard, as the friends of students tend not to be the people with money - it is more likely to be relatives or friends' relatives. Think of it this way - would you end a friendship because a friend asked for a bit of money or help for a cause they really believed in? If the answer is no, then, well, why would your friends?
"The person will say no."
This happens. It doesn't reflect on you, or your efforts. At least you are out there asking for money, and the next time you might well be successful.
REASONS PEOPLE GIVE MONEY
Once a Jewish activist has started to overcome their fairly natural fears of asking people directly for money, the next stage is to think about how to ask successfully. Most people are capable of working out for themselves what ways of asking are the most likely to work, as they are capable of thinking about why they would give money. Lots of people are pretty similar in what motivates them to give. Learn what these reasons are, and how to utilise this knowledge:
REASONS PEOPLE REFUSE TO GIVE MONEY