Lego Wheelchair

The Grace of Begging

I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday that kind of blew my mind. She's a homeschooling mom that has a child with special needs. I'll call her Ivy, but that's not her real name. Ivy has really embodied the boldness of a mother who is willing stretch far beyond what she thought she could do for the sake of her children.

Ivy has become a master fundraiser. Not because she loves fundraising or because she thought it would be cool, but because need motivated her to seek resources beyond her ability to provide. She had to humble herself and ask for help, even when she felt humiliated to have to ask. Her love for her children gave her the courage and strength that she needed to keep on going.

Learn by doing.

Her fundraising journey started in a predictable place… with a neighborhood car wash. This was many years ago, before I had a wife and children if I recall correctly. I gladly helped out for a couple of hours, scrubbing vehicles in the hot Georgia sun. The car wash was at a pretty high traffic area in front of our community's school, but even so, most of the people who came through for a wash were people that we knew who came to support the fundraiser. It's hard to raise a lot of money at $10 a car.

Her next charitable enterprise was making and selling natural laundry detergent. I don't know what her profit margin was, but my wife bought it for as long as it was available. After a while her steam ran out on this one, because she stopped doing it. This is an example of a charitable enterprise that is hard to sustain over the long run.

Ivy put her story up on GoFundMe and tried to raise money that way. She discovered that attention spans on social media are short and that it's a real challenge to break out beyond your own circle of friends on social media. There's also a phenomenon on social media that your friends tend to be friends with one another, so your close network doesn't necessarily reach that far out. She worked to keep interest up by posting updates and having friends share the fundraising page. At a certain point, she felt pretty overwhelmed that she was constantly having to push out Facebook updates.

At one point some of her friends hosted a raffle to benefit her, and another hosted a golf tournament. I'm not sure how those two worked out, but the publicity that they generated opened the door for some big unexpected gifts. These gifts came from people who heard the reason WHY she was asking for money and were moved to give. They didn't care about the raffle items or the golf tournament. They just wanted to give and be a blessing.

God gives us needs as well as gifts.

One great insight that came out of the conversation is that sometime God chooses to give us needs instead of gifts. Poverty instead of riches. God gave Ivy a need so she could give others the opportunity to be a blessing. People, myself included, were delighted to give and to serve because it enabled us to share in the love of a mother for her child with special needs.

She put it so beautifully:

"It is difficult to ask for help, generally. Very humbling, humiliating even. But as a mother who sees my child suffer, I would bring myself to the lowest point so that they may not have to suffer as severely. Happily I would humiliate myself if it means that they would gain.

Yet, in my lowness, I have been blessed beyond my comprehension. Such generous people, kind strangers, close friends, those who are in need giving. It's a beautiful experience to humbly accept offerings.

And thus, it has been part of my salvation. I am more humble, more thankful, less judgmental, and blessed beyond measure to see the love of God in others."

A poverty abounding in riches.

Good fundraising starts with a need that, like in Ivy's case, we can't meet on our own. The battle to humble ourselves and ask others for help is impossible to win without love. Love, and a burning desire to do good for someone we love, gives us the courage and fortitude to keep knocking on doors until we find one that will open to give us what we need to continue.

In the knocking, we discover something delightful. We meet others who are moved by our love to be generous in helping us to meet that need. People who are delighted by the opportunity to do something good. We witness our love spread like a flame to touch hearts and inspire joy.

I hope that Ivy's story can help you see your need as a gift, a divine poverty that has been ordained by God to inspire the best in others. May God give you the same love, courage, and fortitude to take up the cross of fundraising and discover in it a path of salvation.

Need some new ideas on how to fundraise? Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook and find the fundraising strategy that will work best for you!

Image courtesy of Andi Weiland, via Creative Commons License, some rights reserved.