Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Modest Proposal For Tripling Our Fall 2017 Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale Fundraising

Perhaps five-year-old Omran Daqneesh should be named an honorary member of our fundraising committee for Syrian and Iraqi refugee relief.
Our annual Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale raised an impressive more than $341,000 last fall, the second highest amount in its 50-year history. Much of it went for much needed support for refugees in the Middle East, a humanitarian crisis of unbelievable proportions.

Could we triple that amount for the 2017 event?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Think BIG. If people of faith in our community can raise millions each year for building and maintaining underutilized church buildings, and if our church-related institutions can raise millions for expanding and upgrading their state of the art facilities, we should be able to raise $1 million annually for Syrian and Iraqi refugee relief, one of the greatest humanitarian crises of all time.

2. Think Massive Cash Campaign. In addition to the income raised at the Mennonite Relief Sale through food and other sales, through the relief auction, and through the My Coins Count project (formerly Penny Power), individuals, families, churches and other organizations could be encouraged to make large cash and credit card donations at the sale, with tables set up for this purpose and a giant thermometer graph showing the growing total throughout the day.

3. Think year round. Urge people to think creatively about how they can increase their over-and-above giving for urgent humanitarian needs throughout the year, through selling things they don't really need in order to add to their giving, through an annual tithe (or more) of whatever is in their savings accounts, through giving an amount equal to what they spend eating out, etc., and urge them to regularly make these kinds of payments toward the annual goal on the Relief Sale website or an address set up for this purpose.

4. Think "Sharing Our Surplus" (SOS). All of this should represent new money from deeper into our bank accounts or from the sale of the abundance of our possessions, not money subtracted from other regular giving we do. This kind of generous giving should be the result of our choosing to do with less in order to aid those who have little, in the spirit of II Corinthians 9:14b: "Right now you have plenty and can help them (the poor in far off Judea); then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In that way each can have as much as they need."

These are just some initial ideas. I'm in no way suggesting that existing hardworking committees of volunteers plan for less by way of food and other sales or auction efforts, but that we all add massively to the funds raised by their amazing work.

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