Today is August 20, 2019 -
Tell the children of Israel that they are to bring me an offering from every man that gives it willingly with his heart…you shall take gold, silver, bronze…and let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
Really? That’s it? The first and most successful fundraiser in recorded history uses that solicitation line? This is the opening of this week’s parsha, Terumah, often referred to as the “fundraisers’ parsha.”
I have attended my share of fundraising workshops and solicitor trainings over the last few years, and this approach opposes every recommendation and best practice in the field.
If we were in charge of raising money to build God’s Sanctuary, we would script a solicitation as follows:
Child of Israel: Thank you so much for your continued generous support of God’s holy work. Your gifts have really meant the difference between slavery and freedom for so many people. For the Mishkan Campaign, please consider a leadership gift of gold, red-dyed ram skin, and onyx stone. This gift will also make you eligible to join our prestigious Sinai Society and attend our kickoff event featuring the Almighty speaking on ‘What will a nuclear Amalek mean to the future of Israel’s children?’ For every additional onyx stone, you will be entered in a raffle for your own autographed set of the Ten Commandments. And let’s schedule to meet again soon to discuss an endowment gift to ensure God’s dwelling forever.
So this really begs the question, “How was this campaign not only the first ever, but arguably the most successful ever?” Too many gifts poured in and Moses had to cut them off. If it wasn’t the language of the solicitation, and there were no incentives, gimmicks, recognition, or giveaways associated with the campaign, how did it work?
If it’s not in the delivery, then it must be in the message itself.
To be continued…