Return to site

Rav Dessler's critical eitzah

Fundraising might not feel like the most glorious job in the world sometimes. In fact, at times, it can feel like a downright pain.

For many, fundraising is just a necessary evil that comes along with their role in helping Klal Yisrael. Building bochurim, introducing people to Torah, easing the pain of another Yid - ah! Such beautiful, noble tasks to be involved in!

But fundraising? Well, it has to happen. Let’s just grit our teeth and get it done so we can move on to bigger and better tasks.

In Michtav M’Eliyahu (Vol 3, pg. 91), Rav Dessler sheds a very different light on this unbeloved task. In his view, fundraising isn’t just a necessary evil. It’s a beautiful, noble avodah of its own. And, like any other area of avodas Hashem, it has the potential to bring tremendous spiritual benefit to the world.

If it’s done with the right kavanos.

What are those kavanos? And how do they help our actions trigger many more positive effects than simply the filling of our organization’s bank account?

Jewish fundraisers, Rav Dessler states, face a certain problem. No matter how purely their intentions focus on the good of their organization, their requests, by default, are acts of taking.

When you spend significant time involved in acts of taking, you eventually start to become a taker - the opposite of the Torah ideal of being a giver. Even further, all your involvement with money and money-making might develop within you a dangerous tendency toward desire for money!

To combat these negative influences, Rav Dessler teaches that fundraisers need to actively deploy the kavana that they are giving to donors, not just taking from them. As Chazal teach (ויק”ר לד,ז-יד) aniyim used to solicit tzedakah with the words ‘זכה בי’,” “Gain merit through me.” The Jewish fundraiser should always have in mind that by enabling donors to give tzedakah, he is giving them zechusim.

Rav Dessler also cautions gabba’ei tzedakah to be conscious of how their request makes their donors feel. They should ensure their donors experience their solicitations as pleasant, so their giving comes from a place of happiness and goodwill.

With these conditions in place, Rav Dessler teaches, fundraising will do more than bring about the practical benefit of funding our organizations’ activities. It will unleash the tremendous potential ruchniyus benefits of the acts of tzedakah being done.

What are these benefits? Rav Dessler lists six:

  1. Hashem will give us siyata d’Shmaya to help us achieve our goals
  2. We’ll be accustoming our donors to be generous the next time they give
  3. We’ll be allowing our donors to fulfill their mitzvah of tzedakah “b’smicha u’v’tuv leivav”
  4. The donation will carry toward its recipients the energy of ayin tovah, not ayin ra’ah
  5. The tzedakah will contain blessing for all involved with it
  6. Our own love for people will increase, since our actions create unification between donors, recipients and ourselves

Fundraise without the proper kavanos, warns the Michtav M’Eliyahu, and we’ll experience the opposite of those benefits. Our tzedakah activities will wreak damage on us - and on our unwitting donors and recipients.

In fact, Rav Dessler adds, when a tzedakah organization collapses or closes, the failure may well have happened because the organization’s leaders were raising money without the right mindset, instead unconsciously turning themselves into takers!

May we be zocheh to develop the correct mindset. To experience our fundraising activities as the avodah they are, and reap the benefits, practical and spiritual, that Rav Dessler has promised us.

Hatzlacha raba!


© Avraham Lewis & Co.