Thursday, June 10, 2021

A Lesson in Fund-raising

Rabbi Zusya of Hanipoli once came to a city to raise funds for charity. Two local young men were very eager to share in this great mitzvah by doing the legwork of going from door to door. There was a wealthy man in town who always gave a very generous donation to every good cause. They decided to approach him last, because his large donation was guaranteed.

After a long hard day of knocking on doors, the two volunteers succeeded in raising nearly 50 rubles, a very respectable sum. Bone tired but very optimistic, they approached their final, affluent prospect, expecting him to match the entire amount they had amassed. How chagrined and shocked they were when he gave them only the few rubles necessary to round out the full 50 rubles. All of their pleas for a more generous contribution fell on deaf ears. They could not believe it! Why had this philanthropist's heart suddenly turned to stone?

The two collectors returned to Reb Zusya and complained bitterly about their acute disappointment. The Rebbe silenced them saying "My dear sons, there is no reason to be upset. At the very moment a supplicant arrives in a city, a Heavenly decree pronounces how much money he will raise. Once the decree is issued, it cannot be changed. The poor man will not take from this city a penny more or a penny less."

Reb Zusya continued: "The moment I set foot in this city I heard a celestial voice crying out that I would raise exactly 50 rubles for charity. Had you approached the rich man first, he would certainly have given you a lavish donation. However, since you saved him for last, he could not give you more than the few pennies you were shy of 50 rubles."

From this story, the Stretiner Rebbe derived an essential lesson in fund-raising. Often people discourage a fund-raiser, saying that a certain person or group of people have been solicited time and again and they are probably sick and tired of giving, or have exhausted their charity account. This is absolutely false. For every new cause a new Heavenly decree determines how much will be raised. It makes no difference how many times these people were approached. As long as there are people willing to collect, the preordained sum will be raised.

In this vein the Ponevezher Rav would say "Ess felt nit kein tzedakah gelt in der velt, ess felt nemers!" - "There is no shortage of charity funds in the world; there is only a shortage of collectors!"

Nor should someone be upset when a donor gives a disappointing gift. It is very possible that it was decreed that no more money could be donated to this cause.

Source: Maamarei Tzedakah by Rabbi Aaron Roth

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