| Family First Serial |

For Granted: Chapter 42

“You know you can’t run a campaign without Ayala’s approval.”


The Shapiro NPO Consulting office didn’t look quite as intimidating on her third visit, Dini reflected as she walked confidently up to the secretary and announced her name. The secretary waved her in, and Temima stood up and smiled as she entered.

“Lovely to see you again,” she said.  “Tell me how Chesed Tzirel’s been doing since we last spoke.”

Dini updated her about the launch of her volunteer group and glowed with pride as Temima exclaimed, “Very impressive! You took this concept and ran with it. To see such success so quickly is pretty unusual.”

Dini beamed. “We’ve also added another medical liaison to our staff, to handle the growing volume.”


Dini leaned forward.  “That’s actually why I’m here. I need to pay another salary, plus cover all our volunteer group expenses. And, well… help?”

Temima laughed. “Money, money, money. That little thing that gets in the way of all our grand chesed plans.” She picked up a pen. “I’m joking, of course. Really, I firmly believe that it’s the other way around. Dream big, plan big, and the funding will come.”

Dini nodded. That sounded like something her father would say. Speaking of… “Well, I’ve already acted on that advice. And it’s going great, except that I keep charging everything to my father’s credit card, and one of these days he just might ask me why my expenses have gone up, like five hundred percent in the past few months.” She winked.

Temima looked startled for a moment before settling her face back to businesslike, but, catching the expression, Dini cringed. Had she just exposed herself as a spoiled rich girl?

“Sounds like you have a very handy credit card,” Temima said with a small laugh. “But I agree, it’s not a viable long-term financial plan.” She opened her notepad. “So let’s talk. How much would you need to raise in order to cover your monthly costs today and also leave some wiggle room for growth?”

Dini nodded confidently and pulled out a piece of paper. Had she been asked this question a few months ago, she would have squirmed and scratched her head. Keeping track of money was not something she’d ever needed to do before, and she’d never had a good idea of how much things cost. But over the past few weeks, with her responsibility for Bracha’s salary on her mind, she’d made a point of noticing.

She still wasn’t sure if what she was spending was considered a lot or a little. (“A lot,” Ayala would no doubt inform her. “Far too little to do anything properly,” her mother would assert.)  But at least she had actual, intelligent numbers to present. Without Ayala’s help. Without Shuki’s advice.

Dini squared her shoulders. She had this. What an awesome feeling.

Temima scanned Dini’s list of expenses, tapping her pen on the table. “How many volunteer events do you aim to run each month?”

“So far, we’ve been doing a get-together about once every two or three weeks. For now, I think it’s the right amount.”

Temima nodded. “So, according to this, you’re spending between ten- and fifteen-thousand dollars a month.” She looked up. “But you have another salary as well, don’t you?”

“Yes, Ayala’s, but that’s covered by a single donor.”

Temima frowned. “It’s a mistake to rely too heavily on one person. Donors can change their minds. Or experience a financial downturn.” She clicked her pen open.  “So we’re talking twenty-thousand dollars a month, roughly.  That’s two hundred and forty thousand dollars annually. Let’s add a cushion and say three-hundred thousand.  Now factor in around twenty percent fundraising expenses, and we’ll need to set a goal of three hundred and sixty thousand dollars.”

Dini’s head was swimming. Three hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Was that a lot to raise or a little? She didn’t know.

She swallowed. “Um, does it make sense to only raise enough for one year?  I mean, while we’re at it, why don’t we try to cover several years already?”

“Good question. The answer is that this is your very first fundraiser and you don’t know what the response will be like. You want it to succeed. It looks much better to set a goal of three-sixty and raise four hundred than to raise five hundred when your goal was a million.”

Dini nodded. That made sense. She took a breath. How many Adele Samsons did it take to make three hundred and sixty thousand dollars? Math had never been her strong point. “So to hit our target, I need to find, um, how many donors?”

Temima smiled. “One.”

Dini blinked as Temima continued. “If you find someone willing to donate three-sixty grand. Or you might need to find three hundred and sixty thousand donors paying one dollar each.”

Dini blushed. “In other words, stupid question.”

“Not at all. You’ve touched on the essence of crowdfunding, actually. But how many donors you’ll need to hit will depend on how many people with deep pockets you have a connection to.”

Now she did squirm. “I, uh, have a lot, really,” she mumbled. “Both me and my husband, our families are kind of, um, well-connected.”

“You say that like it’s something to be embarrassed of.” Temima laughed. “Lucky you, lucky Chesed Tzirel. But my advice? Even if you do have that magic three-sixty grand donor, do the crowdfunding anyway. To be able to create a list of hundreds of donors who’ve connected to your organization, even if they only gave five dollars, is priceless.”

“I see.” Dini drummed her fingers on the desk. She’d come in here to get advice on who and how to ask for mega-donations. But it sounded like Temima was telling her to do something else.

“So you’re saying I should run one of these campaigns you see blasted all over social media?” She made a face.

Temima watched her. “What’s making you feel uncomfortable about this?”

Dini shrugged, thinking of her mother. “It seems so tacky. ‘Save Yossi’s life! Twenty-four hours only!’ ”

“It’s only tacky if you make it so. There are a lot of very sophisticated campaigns being run nowadays. The key is to rally your team, to inspire the people who are already connected to your cause to get out and spread the word. And that’s something that you’re a natural at.”

Was she? She closed her eyes as images flashed through her mind: the summer she was Color War captain… heading the chagigah in seminary… speaking at the CT volunteers launch event….

She looked at Temima. “Fine, so all I need to do is pump people up? Go team, go?”

Temima smiled. “Obviously, there’s strategy behind this as well. We’ll have to figure out the messaging of the campaign, the best way to get that message out, how to motivate your ambassadors… it will be a ride. But a fun one, I hope.”

Dini let Temima’s words sink in, as she pictured what running a campaign meant. Designs, ideas, rally events, the excitement and energy of working to reach a goal as a team.

She smiled back. “Yes, it will definitely be fun. When do we get started?”

She didn’t really need Shuki to tell her the answer to that question, but she still scowled when he voiced it aloud:

“You know you can’t run a campaign without Ayala’s approval.”

Dini rolled her eyes. “No? I figured I’d send her to Antarctica for two months until the campaign is over. You don’t think that’d work?”

“Sure, that would work,” Shuki said with a straight face. “I was just worried that you were going full-steam ahead with your splashy fundraising plans without even knowing if it could happen.  Your friend doesn’t seem like the type to go for splash.” His lips twitched. “But I’m glad to see you’ve thought this out, too. Antarctica’s a great option.”

Dini’s grin turned into a frown as she looked down at her notepad. She and Shuki had been brainstorming ideas for a standout campaign for the past hour, laughing hysterically as the ideas became increasingly outlandish. (Video Donald Trump urging people to support Chesed Tzirel! Run a call center live from Dubai!) Then, suddenly, Shuki had turned serious and made that comment, knocking the wind out of her sails.

She hated admitting that Shuki was right, but…

“You’re right,” she muttered, taking a breath.

He held up a hand. “No need to say more,” he intoned solemnly. “Sometimes it’s best to come to those important acknowledgments in life and leave it at that.”

Dini laughed. “Thanks, O Wise One. But seriously, obviously I plan on running this by Ayala first, I’m not stupid.  But… you’re right that she’s not going to like the idea of a big, splashy campaign. She’d much rather prefer I discretely approach a few of our parents’ wealthy friends, and she — or the public — will never have to hear about it.”

“I get that she’s a private person, but she’s going to have to get over it,” Shuki remarked.  “That’s not the way fundraising works nowadays. Unless she just wants to keep Chesed Tzirel forever at the level it’s been until now.”

Dini ran her finger along the edge of the notepad. That was exactly what Ayala had wanted to do, and Dini had been the one to convince her it was time to grow. But she’d been right, Dini was absolutely sure of it. And hadn’t Ayala all but acknowledged that herself, when she’d decided to quit her speech job and make Chesed Tzirel her full-time career?

Either way, it was too late to go back. They now had two salaried employees plus a cadre of volunteers serving a growing list of families, and all this cost money.

Dini’s fist clenched. She didn’t care what Ayala’s preferences were. She’d given this major fundraising responsibility over to Dini, and that meant it was her right to do it whichever way would be most effective.

“I’m certainly going to tell her that we’re running a campaign,” she said slowly. “But I don’t know how much she needs to know about and approve every detail in advance.”

Shuki shook his head, but Dini ignored him. “She’s so busy right now with her mother, I’m sure she’s not even interested in being closely involved.”

“Don’t ask for trouble,” Shuki said. “Be up front. Remember how upset she was when you didn’t tell her about starting the volunteer group? Or that financial grant program?”

Dini’s shoulders tensed. “The financial grant started by accident,” she reminded him. “Besides, this isn’t the same.”


She hated the smirk on his face. “No,” she replied coldly. “Because I’m not keeping her in the dark here at all. A few months ago, back when the two of us met with Temima, we spoke about our goal of running a major campaign. Ayala knows very well that this has been the plan all along.  All I’m saying is, she probably doesn’t need — or even want — to know all the nitty-gritty details.”

Shuki still looked skeptical, though he said with a shrug, “As long as you’re confident. So what did we decide, Dubai or Donald?”

Dini answered with a smile, but as she turned back to her notes, she still felt tense. As long as you’re confident. She wasn’t, she realized. She wasn’t at all. She hadn’t liked their whole cycle of secrecy from a few months ago, and she’d been proud that she and Ayala had managed to pull out of it. Did she really want to fall back into that pattern again?

“Fine,” she muttered aloud, but really to herself.  “I’ll call Ayala.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 894)

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