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The Braille Monitor–March, 2001 Edition


The Opportunity to Help

 by Ramona Walhof

Ramona Walhof
Ramona Walhof

From the Editor: Ramona Walhof is the Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind. She also chairs our Capital Campaign effort. She has recently begun to appreciate just how much personal attention must go into every gift to our building fund. This is what she says:


When I owned a bakery, it seemed that all the schools in town would call to ask us to donate a cake when they had a school fair or special event. We did, indeed, donate some cakes, bread, and pies. But we could not donate to every school that asked. So what made the difference?

1. Those that did not ask had no chance of receiving anything.

2. Those who did not ask to talk to the manager or owner never talked to me, and I made the decisions.

3. I donated to the schools whose students lived in the areas near the bakery. I wanted the parents who lived nearby to know that the management of the bakery supported the school. I also wanted those families to have the opportunity to try our product. In other words, we made donations when they were likely to benefit the bakery as well as the school.

4. We made donations when the person making the request was pleasant and to the point and allowed enough (but not too much) time for us to bake the product and get it to the school. A day was not enough, and a month was too long.

5. We made donations in response to compliments: "Your bread is so good! It would make a very nice item in our auction or bake sale."

Has this experience any relevance to our Capital Campaign? We are not asking for cakes or bread. Yet I think some of the considerations are the same.

We need to consider the interests of potential donors one at a time. NFB members are inclined to help, but they need to be reassured that every gift matters, especially if the gift being considered is not as large as others that have been announced. Each donor needs to be reminded that a small annual gift made five times is ultimately five times larger than the first annual payment. We must all remember that this effort is our opportunity to help insure that blind people younger than we can have the advantages we want our children to have: better Braille instruction, better computer access, more choices in employment, more choices for blind seniors, new devices to use. Each member needs to be reminded that more research and training will enhance the effectiveness of the Federation's entire effort in changing what it means to be blind.

We are all busy, and many of us need to be nudged and reminded to do more to help with this work. We also need to be reminded that each of us can do more.

But what about those who have already made as large a pledge as they can? What else should they be expected to do? This is the point at which to ask whom we know that may have an interest in making sure this new National Research and Training Institute for the Blind is completed. Who among our family and friends could be a prospective contributor? Would our parents like to see continued improvements for blind people? Would our brothers and sisters think continued improvements for the blind desirable? How about our children and grandchildren? Would they care? What about friends and neighbors? What about colleagues at work? What about a local businessperson whose shop we patronize? What about the community philanthropist?

Each of us needs to ponder what interest our friends and associates have in helping to make the future better for the blind. Those we know may have considerable interest. Some part of the decision of course depends on their resources, and we may not know much about that. Therefore we must talk to the potential contributors enough to give them the opportunity to consider a donation. If members of our Federation family need personal attention, then how much more will our friends and neighbors need us to give them the same introduction to the opportunity to assist in this great project. This is our responsibility and our opportunity.

People will not give if they are never asked. How could they? Not everyone gives, but virtually nobody is offended at being asked.

Mr. Connelly, director of this campaign, has shown us how to ask for large amounts when appropriate. Each of us should take an experienced solicitor along for the first ask. It sounds so easy when Mr. Connelly says it. "I don't know all about your commitments, but we are hoping you could consider a pledge of $10,000 a year for the next five years for a total of $50,000." It also feels good when each volunteer is ready to make an ask for the first time. The amount varies from one interview to the next, and the follow-up is important.

But there is nothing more exciting than to hear the words, "I can do that!" or "Let me think about it for a few days, but I will certainly give something."

We are almost halfway to our goal. As Hazel Staley says: "Don't miss out on the fun of helping!"

Have you made your campaign pledge yet? We need everyone's help. The construction cost of our projected National Research and Training Institute for the Blind is eighteen million dollars. Please take this opportunity to complete your pledge form. Without you our job will be just that much harder.


The Campaign To Change What It Means To Be Blind

Capital Campaign Pledge Intention



Home Address:_______________________________

City, State, and Zip:_______________________

Home Phone: ________________________________

Work Phone:_________________________________

E-mail address:_____________________________


Work Address:_______________________________

City, State, Zip:___________________________

To support the priorities of the Campaign, I (we) pledge the sum of $___________.

My (our) pledge will be payable in installments of $ __________ over the next ____ years (we encourage pledges paid over five years), beginning _____________, on the following schedule (check one): __ annually, __ semi-annually, __ quarterly, __ monthly

     I (we) have enclosed a down payment of $ ________________

___ Gift of stock: _____________________ shares of _____________

___ My employer will match my gift.

     Please list (my) our names in all Campaign Reports and on the Campaign Wall of Honor in the appropriate Giving Circle as follows:

___ I (We) wish to remain anonymous.

Signed: ________________________________ Date: __________________

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