Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fundraising 101 & the 2012 Retreat for LGBT Muslims and Partners

I am involved with the 2012 Retreat for LGBT Muslims and Partners held outside Philadelphia, over Memorial Day weekend. I attended the Retreat last year, the first of its kind, an energizing and spiritually nourishing experience. This year, I am honored to be part of the planning and fundraising committees.

A friend just shared with me that he sent my blog in which I detail why the Retreat was so significant to me, to his father, and his dad (who had agreed to give $25 when initially asked) decided to give $50. I also got a note from a friend I asked to donate that he had done so, and found out he gave more than I asked (he gave $250!). I got other responses from friends who gave $14 (we were short of our target by $1400 so I committed to ask at least 10 people for at least $14, taking responsibility for 1/10 of the gap), $18, or $36, and other amounts that were meaningful toand possible forthe giver.

This has all been awesome! Alhamdulillah!

So, thank you, everyone who has given thus far. And thank you to all who have asked your friends and family to help us meet our goals. Every little bit helps! It really does.

I’m not saying awesome because my blog inspired a friend’s father to give more (though I am very touched to hear it) or because I surpassed my targets, but because of my friend’s courage to ask and the beautiful surprise of being given more than I asked.

It’s also awesome because, candidly, I had to take my own courage in hand to send out my “asks.” Doing this fundraising made me very anxious. So if you are feeling nervous at the prospect of doing any fundraising, you are not alone!

Here are some steps I took to walk me through my fears:
(1) I admitted that Ilike a lot of other peoplehave a hard time asking for money, and I accepted that it’s ok to feel awkward or anxious about it;
(2) I reminded myself that there is a real need, and took care to explain it in my “ask”; 
(3) I anchored myself in the faith and total support I have for this project, and for how it addresses the needs I described in my appeal; 
(4) I held on to the understanding that while my call is personal and personalized (my perspective on the need, my reasons I think the project valid, etc.), it is not a personal rejection if people say no (this is important); 
(5) besides which, even if a personal rejection, Gloria teaches me: I Will Survive; 
(6) I let folks I asked know I understood if they were not be able to help out in this way at this time, and that it is ok (no high-pressure sales tactics);
(7) a friend eased my mind, telling me that this is an opportunity to let someone help me, to let him participate in realizing a worthwhile project, which makes him feel good; 
(8) he shared with me that people want to give and do good, they want to be helpful;
(9) so by asking them for money, I am giving them that opportunity; 
(10) because our fiscal sponsor, Muslims for Progressive Values, is a 501(c)(3) organization, the gifts are tax-deductible in the USA (and I remembered to put this in my “ask”); 
(11) I asked for a specific amount that I felt would be reasonable for them; 
(12) I took to heart what another friend told me: think of it as a conversation (maybe you do this by phone or in person—courage, my sweetsfundraising is best when done in person or by phone); my friend can respond, “I can't do $50, but I can do $30,” or, “Honestly, $20 is too much for me right now, but I can do $10.”
I hope this helps you! It helped me face my fears. And remember, when you ask, that every little bit helps!

Xoxo & love, light, & peace,

Additional Fundraising Resources:

Sample Letter:

Dear [Your friend’s name here],

I'm writing to you today to request your help in reaching my personal goal of raising $1000 for the second annual Retreat for LGBT Muslims and Partners held outside Philadelphia, over Memorial Day weekend. I've raised at least $525, and I am hoping you can help me close the gap to reach my goal! As you know, I attended the Retreat last year, the first of its kind, an energizing and spiritually nourishing experience. This year, I am honored to be part of the planning and fundraising committees.

I will never forget the moment I heard a woman’s voice raised in the call to prayer, the adhaan, during last year’s Retreat (I detailed in my blog why this was so significant).

This call to prayer healed a rift in my soul, a rift in Spirit I had not realized was there. My visceral reaction was an experiential confirmation that excluding women from spiritual spaces and leadership deeply damages all of us, not just women. And the Retreat helps heal that injury: women call to prayer and lead prayers, and people of all genders pray side by side and not in gender-segregated spaces.

This Retreat is part of an historic global reformation and reclamation movement in Islam, and I am proud to be a part of it and to support it.

The Retreat also is a welcoming and inclusive space for incredible diversity: secular, atheist, cultural, or devout and practicing Muslims; Sunni or Shia, and all sorts within those two branches; Sufi and not; and of course, the partners who may or may not be Muslim. We are young(er) and old(er), of many genders and many ethnicities and races. We offer the Retreat at a time of tremendous need for safe spaces for our attendees, both as Muslim Queers in America, and simply as Queer Muslims. The Retreat mobilizes and solidifies an abiding respect for the values of diversity and inclusion that is beautiful to witness.

Sadly, we are short of our final goal (about $1400 short), so I am reaching out far and wide and asking folks if they can contribute at least $14. If even 10 of my friends do so, that will close the gap by a tenth. Other committee members are doing the same.

Please join me in supporting the scholarships we offer to 14 youth (18-25) and 5 youth+ (26+) to attend. 

Can you make a donation today of $50, $25, or $14? Your gift will help and they all add up! 

All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent permissible by law in the USA, as our fiscal sponsor, Muslims for Progressive Values, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.  You can give via PayPal or, if you prefer not to give via PayPal, you can send a check or money order (if you do the latter, please fill out the attached form, as we need to track donations through MPV to ensure that all donations to The Retreat are attributed). 

Thank you.

Love, Light, & Peace,


  1. Kamal - you've really outdone yourself writing this blog. As someone who's never made an online donation, I found that donating here was very simple. I highly encourage anyone with a heart for this great cause to leave a donation - no matter how small.

  2. Kamal - I love your insights specially that this is not about you. A rejection is not rejecting you as a person nor the cause. I would add two things: there is a ratio in fundraising (not that I remember it now) but for every 20 solicitations or so you get 1 yes. And that if someone doesn't donate, or says they can't right at this moment ... you can always ask if they know anyone or any organization that is sympathetic to your cause that they think you should contact. You never know what new doors can open like this.

    Good luck and enjoy the retreat!

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