Over the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on fundraising for my upcoming year in South Asia with International Justice Mission, sending dozens of letters to friends and family all over the world. The whole time I’ve been struggling with finding words that convey the right balance of urgency and respect, personality and professionalism, boldness and humility. Similarly, I’ve been teetering between all of those feelings internally; I’ve been trying to negotiate a mental balance between excitement, nerves, enjoying where I am, and preparing for the future.
Let’s just establish this quickly: fundraising is kind of awkward. In my experience, one of the few things people find more uncomfortable than being asked for money, is having to ask for it themselves. That being said, I have already learned so much from the process, and feel lucky to get the chance to do it.
A wise man once explained it to me like this: when we feel guilty, or awkward, about asking people to give, those feelings have much less to do with fundraising itself, than they do with our pride. We don’t like asking for help because we don’t want people to think that we need help. We’re also afraid people will say no, our pride causes us to fear rejection so much that we don’t want to even ask. Biblically and logically, we know, hopefully, that the cause we are asking people to support is worthy, and that giving not only blesses the receiver but also the giver.
Any “faith in humanity: restored” post you see online inevitably includes a story of someone making a need known, and the community, or even more compellingly, complete strangers, rising to meet that need. The stories of the man who stopped the Seattle Pacific University shooting having his whole wedding and honeymoon paid for by thankful strangers, or of blood banks being overwhelmed by donors after tragedies, or even the final scene of Its a Wonderful Life, move us because they remind us of what we are capable of being, of the best versions of ourselves. When we invite people to give, present them a need, all we are really doing is creating an opportunity for a miracle. But for any of these tear-jerking moments to happen, someone first had to put themselves out there and ask.
So the question then becomes: does this cause mean more to us than our pride does? Does our desire for a miracle outweigh our fear of failure?
What I have learned from fundraising so far, is that once you can “yes” to that question, everything else becomes trivial. I believe that God is with me on this, and if I raise ten dollars or ten thousand dollars, so be it, because this is the path He has set. So I’ll write a few dozen more letters, have some awkward phone calls, and keep at it, as will my friend Michelle, future co-workers Julia, Caitlin, and Debbie, and the likely millions of others raising support for something somewhere across the world, and we can only hope, that by pitching in, you’ll join us.
See how you can support me, and IJM, by clicking on the “What You Can Do” tab.