Thursday, July 12, 2012

When the time comes to raise funds from community members - Meir MH Palo Alto

We all know the amazing opportunities Moishe House brings to young Jewish people around the world: you enjoy activities with your pals, new friends, have impromptu Shabbat dinners, and even make connections that might help you professionally! Above all, you share meaningful, special and fun times with others with whom you have a common heritage. Setting the mood for all of these to happen involves having a place, time, materials and, of course food! It's no surprise that funds are needed to run these events happening several times a month in all the houses around the world. The model of Moishe House relies on local sources of funding and one of these sources is actually community members. There comes a time in the life of Moishe House residents when they have to tell the community that it is their turn to give back, if they are financially able, of course. This might sound easy to do, but it is far from it. At least it wasn't for me. First, I have never been a fan of public speaking, but I have learned and improved the skill during my residency at the house. Secondly, while I live in a Moishe House in the US, English is not my mother tongue. These two things, paired together with the fact that I have a funny accent (which sometimes takes a conversation in a different way than you expect) mean that I had to be careful when talking about an already delicate subject as it also deals with money. Also, asking for monetary support from a mixed crowd of people, ranging from some whom you know closely to some you've never met (yet), can go in many different ways. Lastly, I had never openly asked people to donate money and had zero experience on it. Since I've learned a lot from having to do it, and that this is a situation other Moishe House residents will likely go through, I wanted to share tips that helped me successfully transmit the message and inspire the Palo Alto Moishe House community members to come together in the amazing and kind way they did to help: When preparing beforehand: - Identify and get a very clear idea of the message you want to transmit: boil the message down to very simple and short talking points e.g: "we need your help to keep this house going", "no pressure- help if you feel connected and have the ability." - Make sure you understand these points, they make total sense to you, and you believe in them. This will make your speech better as a whole since you will be talking almost intuitively about the subject - Be humble but say what is needed to be said - Prepare the relevant detailed information the community will need to actually help: how to do it, timeframe, etc. - Have an order for the ideas you are going to present so it makes sense e.g: 1) describe what Moishe House does 2) state the funding situation 3) present possible solution 4) invite the community to help 5) give details about the mechanics of how and when, etc. - Practice! Not only in your head, but by talking out loud as you are going to actually do it. My roommates were very helpful in listening and suggesting improvements. When addressing: - Follow the order of ideas you prepared, of course. - Talk at a pace that will allow others to understand and process the information. For me this usually means to consciously make an effort to slow down. - Talk with confidence: you have prepared and you know what you are saying. Transmit this to the audience, not only through the words themselves but also in your way of presenting them. - Be yourself. You want to look and feel real as you actually are. People connect to this! - Don't forget the detailed follow-up information! Hope this informal guide can be useful to others out there, Meir

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