My modest proposal for a yeshiva to raise funds

My son's yeshiva sent out a notice as follows:
Dear Parents,

Due to the economic downturn, the Yeshiva is forced to entertain different methods to cover our payroll expenses for our dedicated Rebbeim and staff.

At this time the Yeshiva is participating in a raffle campaign with the Grand Prize being $100,000. The drawing will be on Lag B’Omer, May 12th. The price of a ticket is $100.
We are asking all bochurim, and friends of the Yeshiva to participate in this project by buying and selling raffle tickets. Incentives are being offered to those who feel they can help the Yeshiva with this. We are asking all parents to please try to help out in any way possible (example: giving your son a list of family and friends who they could approach) and to encourage your sons to sell a lot of tickets. It is only with a partnership between the Yeshiva and the parent body that we will be able to pull through these tough financial times.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the Yeshiva office at -------

I told my son that every school does raffles and Chinese auctions, and the like. They don't really motivate me because if I wish to donate, then I am not thinking about the prize. I've read of research on thought processes that indicate that selfish motivations --i.e. winning a prize -- are actually incompatible with selfless motivations -- i.e. thinking of the benefit to others, or, in this case, the school.

My son shot down my own modest proposal because it would take up too much time of the same bochurim who have been asked to solicit raffle sales. I know they would not go for it, but I thought I would share it with the blog audience in any case. During the many days off from yeshiva -- their vacation for Pesach begins this week -- the boys could offer services ranging from running errands to yard work and even babysitting. With so many people pressed with their own Pesach preparations and with young children off from school, a little extra help should be appreciated. The boys could then askthat this appreciation be expressed through a donation to the yeshiva rather than in direct payment. True, it does take longer to do such work than to simply accost someone and ask for $100 a ticket, but I think it would be a very refreshing approach to those of us who are absolutely bombarded by requests for funds from various (many truly worthy) tzedakas to instead have someone who represents the yeshiva really put his own time and effort into the cause rather than merely demand money. And in truth, though my son will spend just about all his time off learning, most boys do spend a lot of their time off just bored, idle, or hanging out -- and those are the good ones.


Ezzie said…
It mostly wouldn't work because the bochurim are more comfortable selling something than working "for free" (understandably). More importantly, their own families might wish that they help at home, first. Raffle tickets are easy to sell quickly and cheaply at (say) Mincha/Maariv and bring in lots of money.
Ariella said…
Exactly my point, Ezzie. Isn't it much more impressive to see a bochur actually willing to work to raise money for his yeshiva rather than merely asking others to work (think of how long it takes for an average person to earn $100 -- that takes 6 hours of scoring SATs for Pearson for me.) Yes, it's easier and faster, which is exactly why everyone does it. I can get 3 different fund requests letters in the mail in a day. Obviously, I can't give to all, and I make a point of not pledging over the phone when I get calls for such requests. I think a more novel approach would have more impact. In any case, as the raffle is structured, they would need to sell a thousand tickets just to cover the promised grand prize, not to mention the other prizes and promised "incentives." They would only really start making money on this if they succeed in selling several hundred tickets on top of the break-even point. I'm not sure that will happen in the current state of affairs. This is a rather small yeshiva, so it would have to reach far beyond the parent body and alumni -- many of which themselves may be currently out of a job -- to sell in those kind of numbers.

I rarely buy raffle tickets but prefer outright donations. I believe that the former are not really tax deductible, though Sephardi Lady would know that better than I. But for this school we already have a $3000 building fund obligation (only just dented into) on top of the $500 dinner obligation (paid off for this year),
SephardiLady said…
Ariella is correct that raffle tickets are not tax deductible.

What I would like to know is what makes the Yeshiva think they can sell enough tickets to cover their costs and then some? Remember that a person who is willing to give $100 isn't going to pull out another $100 should the fundraiser not go as planned.

Also, what do you and other parents think of kids fundrising? My parents rarely let me participate in fundraisers and we weren't hocking $100 raffle tickets.

We are clearly on the same wave length. I was thinking that if the boys are being asked to sale in hopes of raising money for payroll, then why not just ask the boys to either go to work or work pre-Pesach and engender some thanks for the arranging Yeshiva.
SephardiLady said…
PS-I will link for tommorrow's post. But right now I'm on the run.
Ariella said…
On the fundraising by students issue: my kids are not aggressive enough to go door to door or even to ask all their grandparents, etc. to donate to the cause. Even the motivation of a prize list based on the amount brought in is not enough of an incentive for them. Usually, I do send in a check for Od Yosef Chai, Chai Lifeline, or whatever the organization the school or camp is collecting for with the children, and that is the extent of what they bring in. But the donations are usually under $100. My larger donations usually go to Yad Eliezer or the local Tomchei Shabbos, which the schools don't tend to collect for.

As for this yeshiva collection, I know my son has no intention of giving up any learning time (even when it is beyn hazmanim) to raise funds. It would be far more effective for him to raise money on the basis of time spent learning if anyone would sponsor dollars per daf or the like. But that likes the excitement of a contest or drawing with winners.

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