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The Braille Monitor – February, 2001 Edition


Asking For It

by Charlie Brown 


From the Editor: Charlie Brown is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and a member of the NFB Board of Directors. He is also now a capital campaign volunteer. This is what he says about his experience:

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown

I'm not much of a salesman. Sure, I've sold my share of candy, raffle tickets, and the like. I've even signed up an occasional Associate for the Federation. But if I had to make my living in sales, I'd be in tough shape. So about a year ago I had serious worries about how I could bring myself to ask people to make sizable gifts to our capital campaign--the Campaign to Change What It Means To Be Blind. Wouldn't it be difficult (even embarrassing) to ask close friends? How could I summon up the nerve to ask perfect strangers? If I was afraid to ask friends and strangers to contribute, who else was left for me to ask?

I was absolutely convinced that we need to build the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind. I also knew that Dr. Maurer was right that we should not ask others to contribute if we were not prepared to give ourselves. My wife Jacki and I had made our own five-year pledge. Still I worried about how to ask others.

The Federation training session I attended certainly helped. Fortunately I also had the opportunity to spend time with Vince Connelly, who is working with us on the campaign. He's a bright young man, and he definitely knows what he's doing. Basically we drove around asking people for money. Contrary to my expectations, I actually had fun doing it. Mr. Connelly and I also talked about football, politics, careers, cars, dogs, etc.

Mr. Connelly always says that the main reason a person gives to a capital campaign is that someone asks him or her to give. If we don't ask people to give, they almost certainly won't. I was amazed that Mr. Connelly and I actually had the nerve to sit down with folks and ask them to pledge large amounts of money to the campaign. I had to pinch myself--was I really doing this?

So what was the worst thing that happened? Some folks said no. I thought that would be tough, but it really wasn't. After all, we got no less from them than we would have if we had not asked them to give.

No matter what, Mr. Connelly was cheerful, and a lot of that rubbed off on me. We also had some very satisfying visits. We answered folks' questions about the proposed Institute. We explained how people could structure gifts over an extended period. We got to know folks better; and, yes, we raised some much-needed funds. Surprisingly, I enjoyed asking friends to give.

This experience also emboldened me to ask some folks on my own. For instance, I asked a family member if he'd consider making a gift. He'd given us some money here and there in the past, but he was not a regular financial supporter. So imagine my surprise when he agreed on the spot to give the campaign more than $10,000. In his case stocks were involved, and Dr. Zaborowski of our National Office made sure that the shares were successfully transferred.

Friends and family are one thing, but I've also begun to ask for money from strangers--although nobody is really a stranger. I try to get mutual friends or acquaintances to help me introduce our campaign. Again people have said no, but that no longer bothers me much. After all, they're just missing out on an opportunity to support something truly worthwhile.

As important as it is to raise funds for our campaign, I've learned that I have received other, unanticipated benefits from being a campaign volunteer. I've had the chance to meet and get to know Mr. Connelly and learn a lot from him. I've also had the opportunity to spend time in serious conversation with long-time colleagues. Sometimes we Federationists spend so much time on day-to-day Federation business that we don't take enough time to talk about the most important business of the Federation--our hopes and dreams for the future. The campaign has given me the opportunity to do just that. It has also given me the opportunity to introduce a few corporate leaders and others to our movement. Yes, I'm now convinced that we will build the new Research and Training Institute, but in the process of doing so we can do even more for our cause.

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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