From Distraction to Discovery: How Raising Money Is an Act of Love
God showed me something significant today. I was making calls to follow up on a fundraising email for my Uganda trip. I've been putting the calls off for over a week, but when I woke up, I said to myself, "Today is the day. Make the calls."
During my regular Bible reading, the distractions started to come. These included such "important" issues like the after-shave I needed to order. The stack of mail I needed to tend to. The chapter I didn't finish last night. Then there was a sudden urge to jump in the shower to get refreshed. Followed by the thought that I should grab a bite to eat to bring my energy level up. The distractions surged like the tide.
After tending to a few of these distractions, I forced myself to get on my knees and pray. But the distractions kept coming. Then I had a thought, "I'll pray for my family and friends who need prayer. That always gets me focused and moving forward."
And it worked.
God started to reel me in, to get me thinking about others, not myself. Then I asked God, "Please give me the discipline to make the calls. Give me ideas to write. I know if I do what I am supposed to do, it will make for a fulfilling day."
After finishing the prayer, I sat at my home office desk, opened my notebook to a clean page, and wrote, "To accomplish today."
I then wrote "1." I knew what needed to be done because I've carried these items for the last few days. I stayed busy during that time but not on the things I should have been doing. And the number one thing was the follow-up calls.
So I wrote, "Do accounting" right after "1."
Nope, not calls. Accounting was the first thing I wrote.
But then after "2" I wrote, "Call the potential gold sponsors for Youth Ablaze…all 16 of them."
When I finished writing the list, I had seven items. I could have started on any one of them. But I started making the calls.
That's when some pretty amazing things started to happen.
The first five calls resulted in me leaving long voicemail messages. I knew I was leaving long messages, but I didn't realize how long until a friend's voice mail interrupted me with, "Goodbye!"
The sixth call was to a friend I had been meaning to call for a couple of months. He picked up and said, "It must be Youth Ablaze fundraising time."
He knows I love him, but he also knew I called for a very specific reason. He must have thought, "Charlie wants something from me."
I was embarrassed.
The conversation went well. We caught up in the brief time we had together and even scheduled a time to meet in the coming week to really catch up. When I got off the call, I realized how much I missed him and how much I was looking forward to our time together.
The very next call was to another friend to whom I rarely speak. He is the CEO of a multinational company. In such a big role, he is always tough to catch. But he picked up and it was like we'd talked just the week before. In reality, it's been over six months. He asked what Youth Ablaze was all about. This gave me the chance to tell him about this important and life-changing ministry. He caught me up on his family and his grandchildren. All good.
I made a few more connections but mostly left messages. The messages were at least touches which I would not have made had I not been fundraising. When I did connect, I discovered what's going on in my friends' lives. This was amazing and rich, very rich.
At the end of one of the calls, I had a friend say, "Our family is going through a crisis." I could hear the anxiousness and concern in his voice. This gripped me like I was standing right in front of him instead of talking on the phone. It was cancer. Not a member of his extended family. We talked and then we prayed together right there over the phone.
So what did God teach me today?
He taught me once again to get over myself. When fundraising, I must realize it isn't about my insecurities in asking for money from friends. It isn't about being an imposition. It isn't about rejection. It is about connecting with friends. It is just a reason to talk to my friends.
Yes, I am asking for money. But really I'm asking them to join me in something I am already contributing to. A cause which Kathy and I are dedicating our money and time to. It is important to me. And because it is important to me, my friends make it important to them, too.
Fundraising is an excuse to love and support each other. To take the time to talk, to share, to care. To come together as friends and maybe even change the world together, to serve together, to pray together, to love and appreciate each other and our friendship.
A lesson I forgot.
I had a friend, Denny Brown, who died a couple of years ago. He was a CEO who went into full-time ministry. When he couldn't make ends meet, he joined a Christian missions organization as their one and only fundraiser. He had a multi-million dollar quota. I never saw him stressed in this role.
"How do you raise that kind of money?" I asked.
He said, "I just enjoy people. We hang out. We have dinner together. We talk. We share our lives. We love each other."
He told me this 15 years ago. God reminded me today.
I miss Denny. He loved me. He always had time for me. He always encouraged me in my faith and in business. Today reminded me of a truth Denny often said.
"Raising money is an act of love."