Friday, June 21, 2013

The highs and lows of fundraising

Let me just say, I am no stranger to asking people for money. As a veteran of many short-term missions trips, I have sent out letters, I have mulched yards, I have baked good. I am familiar with the fundraising squirm, and it has sent me into tears more than once. And because of this I once speculated that my fundraising might be over for good. Hah.

So let me just say, fundraising is the WORSTEST. I mean, it's great. Officially, I love fundraising because it allows you to stay connected with people, build relational bridges, and serve God in community, which is what the Christian walk is all about. It teaches humility, trust, and dependence on God to provide. All that is true. It's so true. I believe that stuff. But sometimes fundraising is the WORSTEST.

I hate that it requires skill. I hate that there's a rhetoric, a way of speaking in some kind of missionary code that makes your fundraising sound more socially acceptable and less pathetic. I hate that you have to be a pep squad, getting people excited about your scary unknowns while they get to stay home and be awesome with each other while you're far away. I hate that sometimes "follow up" is creepy, and feels like you're hounding or nagging people, and taking the role of a telemarketer. I hate that my coach refers to fundraising as a job even though I know that's what it is, and I know that's totally okay. It makes me feel like a timeshare sales rep rather than a worker for Jesus.

Let me draw a comparison. We had some solicitors come to our door this week. They were selling magazines as job training for underprivileged youth, and the money they raised went to scholarships for higher education. A perfectly noble and legitimate enterprise. But oh, it was painful: the twenty-minute sell, the reasoning and the manipulation. I almost wanted to buy a magazine just so they would go away, and so I wouldn't have to deal with that guilty feeling in my chest.

And I don't want other people to feel like that when I'm fundraising.

I got a text from my mom's old roommate, asking when I was available so she could get together with out family. (My schedule is the most limited. Adjust to the most restricted variable. LSAT logic games strategy. Anyway.) I didn't reply right away because I wasn't sure, but later when I came to her name on my support letter address list I grabbed my phone to send her some dates. I wanted to text her before she got my letter, because I didn't want her to think that I was only getting together with her because I wanted her to support me.

That is the farthest thing from what I want! I don't want anonymous checks or donations from distances, I want a support network of senders who care about English students in Kazakhstan. I want people to give because they believe that God is in this and God will work in me. (And if they pray it so, it will be so.) I will not see God at work without these commissioners, these partners, these senders. I am needy. And so I don't want to fundraise as thought I am impersonal or removed or self-sufficient. But this is an introvert's worst nightmare. I am feeling overwhelmed by the network of people I want to love and engage and build community with, and I am overwhelmed by the kindness and support my network has shown me. It's the best and the worst thing about fundraising. Where there are people there is love and love is such a very hard thing.

And so, though a phone call with my fundraising coach left me in the depths of despair today, she left me with this morsel of encouragement.

Satan's biggest lie is that you're asking for this money for yourself. You're not. You're asking people to join in the vision God has given you for making a difference in people's lives and making Jesus famous around the world. And Satan knows that's a beautiful thing. Don't let him make you feel guilty for seeking partners in this work. 

Today I am thankful for community.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

It's fun to join in that vision!!