Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky’s Advice for Fundraising

Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, took part in a fundraising panel held by Ami Magazine, where he shared some insights from his work. When asked for his secret of success, he gave a unique answer…

By Anash.org reporter

So what’s the secret to fundraising success?

That was one of a number of questions posed to Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos 302, at a panel on fundraising held by Ami Magazine recently. His answer? Keep on reading.

The panel, held in Tarrytown, New York, brought together over 500 non-profit administrators and fundraisers who were seeking to advance their craft. On the panel with Rabbi Kotlarsky were Rabbi Yoel Braver, a well-known fundraising educator in the chasidishe world, and Reb Shlome Zalmen Spitzer of Omni Group, a fundraising consulting firm. The panel was moderated by Ami’s Nesanel Gantz.

Rabbi Kotlarsky was invited to join the panel due to his unique position running over a dozen mosdos. Aside from assisting his father, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarksy in his duties at Merkos 302, the junior Rabbi Kotlarsky has started 16 mosdos of his own, including CTeen (the Chabad teen network), Chabad Young Professionals International (CYP), Chabad on Call (a medical support network), and many others.

When asked to introduce himself, Rabbi Kotlarsky told the crowd “I’m not a fundraiser. Baruch Hashem, I grew up in a house with a father [Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky] who had the zechus to establish Chabad Houses across the world. In order to do that, he needed money, so fundraising was a byproduct of his work. I would say that the same is true for myself.”

He also gave some tips and advice from his experiences, while throughout it out all stressing the primary mission of shluchim: to spread Yiddishkeit.

“We have a goal to reach Jews everywhere and help them connect with Yiddishkeit. Over the last 30 to 40 years, we had to find people who appreciate what we do and were ready to support it. A central organization like Merkos can support many other mosdos across the world. That means that with an investment in a central place, you can impact 5,500 shluchim in over 110 countries. We started building projects that were needed for kids, for teenagers, for young professionals, for hospitals, and even for the shluchim themselves. These are people living alone in a country or community, with no real kehillah. Their kids are growing up without any frum friends. So every one of these shluchim really needs support. And in order to support them, you need to be able to fundraise,” he said.

And when asked for his secret of success, Rabbi Kotlarsky said it was thanks to “siyata dishmaya.” He then shared a potent message.

“I want to share one important point that helps me manage and run our mosdos. Our offices are in 770, and often I need to go to Manhattan for a meeting. You know how sometimes you feel the need to leave shul early to work on your business? I noticed something very interesting. The times when I left shul early before davening finished, the trip to Manhattan took me between 45 and 53 minutes; I checked my watch. And the times when I waited for the last Kaddish, it took me between 28 and 35 minutes. If you don’t believe that what you’re doing is for the Eibershter, then the siyata dishmaya doesn’t come.

“So I can tell you that I make sure to say a kapitel Tehillim. I go to the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I increased my learning of Rambam. Again and again, I saw a direct correlation between doing the right thing for the Eibershter and having hatzlachah in fundraising,” he said.

For the full panel, as printed in Ami Magazine, see below.

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