A group of 40 Shluchim gathered in Crown Heights this week to gain insight and skills for the challenging task of fundraising in a workshop organized by Merkos 302.
On Sunday the day after Gimmel Tammuz, 40 newly minted Shluchim channeled their inspiration into a full-day intensive Shlichus seminar led by Rabbi Elazar Green at the beautiful Agudas Beis Binyamin Shul in Crown Heights.
The workshop, which was organized by the New Shluchim Desk at Merkos 302, in partnership with Rabbi Bentzy Lipskier of the Meromim Foundation, gave a multi-faceted approach to fundraising, covering the ruchniyus, gashmiyus, emotional, and practical aspects of fundraising, based on the Rebbe’s sichos and hora’os.
The program is part of a larger initiative that aims to demystify the somewhat overwhelming process of building a moisad from the bottom up. The New Shluchim Desk seeks to give clarity, skills, and practical tips on a variety of vital topics for Shluchim so that each new shliach can begin their mission with confidence and the tools they need to succeed.
“Starting out is usually the most difficult part of Shlichus, and new Shluchim are always looking for somewhere to turn for advice and guidance. We started this initiative to answer that call and empower as many Shluchim as possible to build Jewish communities worldwide and further the Rebbe’s mission of reaching every Yid,” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302.
Amongst all the challenges of Shlichus, the constant need to fundraise is one of the most intimidating, especially for young, untried Shluchim. The two-part fundraising course delves into every aspect of the herculean task, giving decisive tips and tricks to successfully raise money for a Chabad House.
The first part of the course took place in person, with a day-long symposium in Crown Heights. An additional 10 follow-up sessions will be attended virtually.
The program began with an address from Rabbi Moshe Kotlasrsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, who saluted the new Shluchim and encouraged them to fulfill the Rebbe’s mission with simcha and pride. The participants all got to know each other, forming friendships that will be a support for them in the coming years.
Each of the ten sessions explored another aspect of successful fundraising, from learning a sicha and practicing how to teach it to various audiences, to looking inwards and developing a strong sense of identity. They discussed the four stages of fundraising, and how to avoid conflicts, be proactive, and organized. The importance of thanking donors was stressed, as was the value of truly listening. The seminar ended with a list of 80 tips from experienced Shluchim with advice on how to start Shlichus on the best foot possible.
“To be honest, fundraising was one of the things that scared me the most about Shlichus,” says Rabbi Meir Gordon, who recently moved to Paso Robles, CA “Now I have a list of best practices and a good understanding of what makes a successful fundraiser.”
The next ten sessions on Zoom will cover money sense, compelling storytelling, interviewing skills, how to set up recurring donation platforms, and how to manage difficult donors, among others.
The program is part of many seminars taking place this summer due to the efforts of Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz and Rabbi Mendel Chaiton of the New Shliach Desk