By Anne Schmitt
I am a vehicle for income tax savings, a window to public recognition, a facilitator of human generosity. I am a professional fundraiser.
People say to me, “How do you ask people for money? I could never do that!”
I tell them the hours are sometimes long, the pay sometimes short. But the rewards are rich, at times almost magical.
It is in our nature to care for one another. As human beings, we can’t fight it. That natural habit manifests itself for so many reasons. The strongest manifestation may be a desire for spiritual enlightenment.
In the Old Testament, God instructs us to bring our tithe to him.
Jesus taught that to love one another as ourselves was to serve one another.
A high honor of tzedakah, a Hebrew word for charity, is to care for others we don’t even know and to receive no recognition or credit for that service.
Despite all the hardship in the world, people do really want to do something for others deep down. Even one who grows up without religion, without kindness and without charity can find in their heart that desire to give and care for others if simply given the chance.
So I simply provide a service that people naturally need. As a fundraiser, it is my job to educate and inspire donors.
I help unleash a donor’s desire to make a difference. Every day, I get to see their satisfaction in knowing they have contributed to making humanity better in some way and fulfilled a deep need within.
Most of all, I get to see the benefits of their gifts.
I see it in the eyes of the parents of these children who finally realize there is help for their family.
I see it in the joyful eyes of a therapist when one of their clients finally realizes that suicide is not the answer to their problems.
The magic appears when children who have endured so much pain and hurt in their short lives start to regain some of the happiness of their childhood.
As a child, I didn’t want to be a fundraiser when I grew up. I hadn’t even heard of it. I didn’t study fundraising in college. In fact, my parents used to want to know when I was going to get a “real job.” I fell into fundraising. Call it fate. Call it divine intervention. Call it destiny. I call it a blessing.
Anne Schmitt is vice president for advancement at Alexander Youth Network in Charlotte, N.C