Asking for Money and Not Feeling Any Shame

Posted on: December 14th, 2009 by Hayim Herring

The word for money in modern in day Hebrew is kesef. This word appears in the Bible and Rabbinic Hebrew as well. Interestingly, in those strata of Hebrew, kesef means both silver and shame. I’m guessing that the connection is that silver is a pale color and when we feel shame, blood drains from our faces, giving us a pale appearance.

Perhaps there’s a deeper connection as well, namely some feel shame or embarrassment in soliciting funds from others for congregational needs. Let’s face it—you’re more likely to get someone to volunteer to paint the congregation’s bathrooms than to get someone to volunteer to solicit funds from congregants!

But we know that money is an essential part of congregational life, and we’re acutely reminded of this financial reality during an economic crunch. So what I want to do in the next series of posts is use the network that we’ve created through this blog to:

  • Hear from those of you who don’t enjoy fundraising.
  • Also hear from those of you who actually enjoy fund development (as I do and will explain later) or have overcome your hesitation about soliciting funds.
  • Share fund development issues and solutions with one another.
  • Exchange learning with one another around yearly fund-development activities.
  • Explore roles that you think staff members should play in fund development.
  • Offer each other resources that you’ve found helpful.
  • And—informally explore alternatives to the model of synagogue dues.

I’m going to invite some fund development experts to share their ideas as well.

So, let’s kick off the discussion by hearing from those who really do not like soliciting funds and also from those who tolerate or even look forward to the challenge of raising money for the congregation. Thanks!

Rabbi Hayim Herring


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