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Monday, July 3, 2017

Raising A Million: The Unamazing Miracle Of "The Sharing Of The 5000"

Were Virginia Mennonites to experience a revival of generosity this year for the desperate needs of millions of war and famine refugees, how much revenue might our September 29-30 Virginia Relief Sale generate for Mennonite Central Committee?

Last year's total was over $360,000, the second highest amount ever. This year's Sale is adding a cash contribution option as a way of greatly increasing that number.

The 2017 SOS ("Sharing Our Surplus") initiative aims at enlisting extra support through generous check, credit card and other gifts, a plan especially designed for folks not inclined to participate in the annual auction.

In a recent optimistic moment I suggested that a wealthy community like ours should be able to easily raise a million dollars annually through this kind of event. Of course that idea has been dismissed as preposterous, and even I realize that kind of miracle is less than likely.

But let's do some math, based on a modest "$100 plus $100 x 5000 Plan", as follows:

Let's assume that of the estimated 10,000 attendees at the Sale, 5000 earn some kind of regular income ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 a year. Without limiting any of their other charitable giving, let's assume it were possible for each of these persons to set aside a minimum average of at least $200 annually (or 1% or more of their income, whichever is greater) to contribute at the relief sale, as follows: 1) $100 average for food, auction and other purchases, and 2) another $100 average as their tax deductible gift for refugee relief.

Those with more means and greater motivation, of course, would need to spend more than $100 in food and auction purchases and/or give more than $100 as an outright gift in order to compensate for those who give or spend lesser amounts in response to this kind of need.

But that's all it would take to raise a cool million for MCC.

But is this kind of $200 (average) annual giving splurge at all reasonable or possible?

Think about it. $200 is significantly less than many of us might spend on any one of the following in a year's time:

Pet food
Starbucks coffee
Golf
Lawn care
A weekend vacation
Jewelry
Air conditioning
Soft drinks
Netflix
Snack foods
Eating out
A car payment
Bottled water
Magazine subscriptions
Steaks
Hair care
Ice cream
etc.

The total of all of our expenditures on such items alone (all completely out of reach for families living in a refugee camp) would likely be staggering. So if we fail to reach anywhere near a million dollar goal, it won't be because it would require some kind of miracle to accomplish.

A more likely explanation might be that like Dr. Seuss's Grinch, our middle class American hearts have become several sizes too small.

This truly represents an unprecedented crisis.
Note: While the SOS initiative is an effort officially endorsed by the Virginia Relief Sale Board, the views expressed in support of it in this or any of my blog posts are purely my own.
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