I am a vehicle for income tax savings. I am a window to public recognition. I am a facilitator of human generosity. I am a professional fundraiser.
People say to me, “How do you ask people for money? I could never do that!” I tell them the hours are sometimes long; the pay sometimes short. Ah, but the rewards are rich. At times, they almost seem magical.
It is in our nature to care for one another. As human beings, we can’t fight it. That natural habit manifests itself for so many reasons. The strongest manifestation maybe is in a desire for spiritual enlightenment.
In the Old Testament, God instructs us to bring our tithe to him and He will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out His Blessing. Jesus taught that to love one another as ourselves was to serve one another. At the Last Supper, he washed the feet of his disciples. It was an uncomfortable and dirty job, but the message was clear. To become great, one must humble himself in service to others.
A high honor of tzedakah, a Hebrew word for charity, is to care for others we don’t even know and to receive no recognition or credit for that service. According to Jewish tradition, the spiritual benefit of giving to the poor is so great that a beggar actually does the giver a favor by giving a person the opportunity to perform tzedakah.
Charles Dickens said, “In the little world in which children exist, there is nothing so finely perceived and finely felt as injustice.” Despite all the hardship in the world, people do really want to do something for others deep down. Even one who grows up without religion, without kindness and without charity can find in their heart that desire to give and care for others if simply given the chance.
So you see, I simply provide a service that people naturally need. As a fundraiser, it is my job to educate and inspire donors. I help unleash a donor’s desire to make a difference. Every day, I get to see their satisfaction in knowing they have contributed to making humanity better in some way and fulfilled a deep need within. Most of all, I get to see the benefits of their gifts. It is magic.
I experience this magic in many ways in my work at Alexander Youth Network. It comes across on the faces of the children when they win “kid of the week” in Day Treatment after years of struggling in school because of mental health problems. I see it in the eyes of the parents of these children who finally realize there is help for their family. I see it in the joyful eyes of a therapist when one of their clients finally realizes that suicide is not the answer to their problems. The magic appears when children who have endured so much pain and hurt in their short lives start to regain some of the happiness of their childhood.
As a child, I didn’t want to be a fundraiser when I grew up. I hadn’t even heard of it. I didn’t study fundraising in college. In fact, my parents used to want to know when I was going to get a “real job.” I fell into fundraising. Call it fate. Call it divine intervention. Call it destiny. I call it a blessing.
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