Solicitation Training

The actual solicitation of funds is the part in the process that concerns fundraisers the most. Elsewhere on this website, you can read about the psychology behind the fear of fundraising. However, this portion will give some helpful insights into preparing for "the ask." The solicitor has to keep in mind is that this money is not going toward personal coffers. The money being collected is for the good and prosperity of the community. This process is what connects people to their community, by giving money they can take pride in the building, programs, and people that surround them as they worship and celebrate together. In order to remember that the money is not personal, the solicitor must understand the reasoning behind the fundraising campaign and believe in its message.

According to Jewish tradition, there must be two people soliciting funds. These two people cannot be related in order to avoid a conflict of interest (Bava Batra 8a). The team of solicitors, rabbis and the leadership team, should know this text and use it. Sometimes people are hesitant to offer their funds if they are not sure exactly where it is going and how it will be used.

Before making the first ask there are a few things that a solicitor should know, be it rabbi or congregant. The solicitor should have a copy of Steps in the Solicitation Process. The solicitor should role-play these steps with others, who will be asking, that way any questions or concerns that come up can be dealt with under the auspices of training. The solicitors should be aware that thanking every prospect is of the utmost importance, even if they say no the first time they may continue to think abut he cause and eventually offer money to the campaign. If they are not properly thanked, they might be more reluctant to give.

Inevitably a solicitor will be turned down when asking for funds. Solicitors have to remember to try not to take a rejection personally. The potential donors are not rejecting the person, but the idea or it just may be a difficult time for them financially. The solicitor should be sympathetic and really listen to what the potential donor is saying, even when the answer is not favorable.

Asking for money is not easy in the beginning, over time individuals become more comfortable with it. Jewish tradition recognizes the importance of asking for funds in the Talmud by saying, "One who can cause others to give has a greater reward than the giver" Shulchan Aruch 249:5. Believing the cause in which one is supporting allows for the solicitor to become more comfortable. Soliciting funds is not an exact science, but hopefully these tips will help make the process easier and more meaningful.

(Developed by: Lisa Delson, HUC-JIR, Cincinnati)

Sample Program: Leading the Way in Fundraising
Time: 2 hours
Possible Facilitators: Fundraising professional, rabbi of the congregation, development director, chair of fundraising committee
Materials: copies of Steps in the Solicitation process, white board with following quote, white-board markers, tables and chairs

"One who can cause others to give has a greater reward than the giver."
Shulchan Aruch 249:5

(30 minutes) Introduction:
1. Welcome everyone to the workshop. Explain how fundraising is all about relationships. In order that the group can start getting to know one another, we are going to be sharing our own experiences through story telling.

2. Facilitators share their most meaningful philanthropy experiences. Answering the questions how it impacted them personally and professionally. Conclude with why you are here today? What this organization means to you.

3. Give an opportunity for participants in the workshop to share their connection to the congregation or organization. Ask, "What does philanthropy mean to you?"

(20 minutes) Pretend Solicitation
1. Facilitators speak about the intricacies of making an "ask" to a potential donor. Explain that the first or second meetings might just be explaining the goals and programs of the congregation or organization. This model situation is "taking place" after those initial meetings. At this meeting the solicitor would have all of the fundraising materials, such as the menu for giving, the promotional brochures for the project, information on who else has given and how much (especially the people in the potential donor's friendship circles).

2. Two facilitators set up their chairs in the front of the room as if they are in a conversation. The lead facilitator conducts the conversation as if they are in the final stages of the "ask." Participants in the workshop can stop the conversation with questions.

3. Optional: conduct a solicitation doing everything wrong. Shows the participants what not to do.

(30 minutes) Break out groups for pretend solicitations
1. Participants break up in groups of six and move to different places in the room. One facilitator accompanies each group. Each pair conducts a solicitation based on a made up project. Each pair has ten minutes for their discussion.

2. After the first pair presents to the group, the following groups take the "stage." Other participants in the group can ask questions directed at those in the conversation or to the facilitator in each group.

(10 minute break)

(15 minutes) Steps in the Solicitation process
1. Facilitators bring the participants back together and hand out copies of Steps in the Solicitation Process.

2. Ask if there are any questions regarding the document, if there should be anything added or subtracted to fit with the congregation or organization.

(15 minutes) Conclusions
1. Ask for one word from each participant of how people feel after the training.

2. Facilitators offer closing words of how the group can be the best support for doing this mitzvah of fundraising. They should be proud of themselves for fulfilling what the Shulchan Aruch says, "One who can cause others to give has a greater reward than the giver."

3. Distribute lists for solicitation in the congregation or organization.