The Jewish Federation of Ottawa 2016 Annual Campaign Kickoff was held with great success on September 9 and a canvasser inspiration night took place in late August to rally, educate and inspire our 190 canvassers. This exceptional force is charged with the goal of raising more than $4.4 million needed annually to sustain our 22 beneficiary agencies and to support Jewish communities overseas and Israel.
The Federation campaign office is buzzing with activity: lists have been generated, emails sent, packages collated, team captains are in place and strategies are being outlined.
Over 2,000 pledge cards have been distributed to canvassers. We should be very proud of the resources and efforts put in by all those volunteers and by the staff. And we are. But we need more help – more resources, more canvassers.
Yet, how many of us feel sick at the idea of asking for money? “Ask me to help in any other way, but don’t ask me to ask for money” is something we hear every day. It’s something many of us, including me, have said at some point. Asking for money conjures up many negative images and ideas.
Longtime community canvassers laugh as they tell stories of how people cross the street when they see them coming.
So, how do we do it, feel great about it, and never feel like we are asking for money?
The secret to successfully asking for support is to find out what you are most comfortable doing and do it.
Many people know my husband Steven. He’s known to be quiet and somewhat shy with an impeccable reputation for being respectful and honourable. Steven was assigned one of the toughest and least popular jobs of all – handling pledge arrears – and he pursues it with passion.
His reputation for integrity and delivering on his promises inspires those he approaches to ensure they deliver on their promises to our community.
Others canvassers are outstanding at face-to-face canvasses. They find, through personal conversation, what is most meaningful to the person they are meeting with. Then, together with staff, find a way for that donor, or potential donor, or lost donor, to achieve their goals within our community.
So, no, I won’t ask for money. Instead, I ask you to give me the opportunity to help you do a mitzvah. A truly great mitzvah because the people and organizations you are supporting do not know who you are – and that’s the highest form of tzedakah. I won’t ask you for money, but I will ask you to lead the way by making your gift now, and fulfilling your Jewish responsibility for Tikkun Olam – repairing our community, and communities abroad and in Israel.
And, once you’ve carried out your personal mitzvah, at whatever level is right for you, and in whatever way is meaningful to you, then proudly help others fulfil their own by canvassing even one person.
I guarantee you that helping that one donor to help others will be gratifying beyond your expectations.