[nfb-talk] Solicitation of donations- A philosophical discussion

Robert Leslie Newman newmanrl at cox.net
Tue Sep 21 11:25:31 UTC 2010

Dear NFBtalk listers


Recall that a couple of weeks ago I came to this list with a question on
what would be the NFB's stand on the solicitation of donations- what would
constitute a correct   philosophical approach and what actions or lack of
action would be contrary to promoting our goals. And many of you responded-
Mike F., Steve J., Ray F., David A. Cindy H. and a few more that are
escaping my memory bank. In my posts I spoke of wanting to work out an
article and a discussion guide on the topic. Below I will paste in the text
to a "Chapter Building Lesson" on the topic (it did go out on the "Chapter
Presidents mailing list"). 




Topic: What is appropriate solicitation of funding

(NFB philosophy is one of our greatest gifts and assets)


Lesson Purpose: Discussion of NFB philosophy during a chapter meeting is one
of the best ways to build a cohesive and informed chapter body. The topic of
this lesson is one possibility from a nearly inexhaustible supply that can
be drawn from NFB literature, sponsored programs, activities and/or
initiatives. Presenting a philosophical based discussion is important for
both new and established members; it quickens the understanding and
acceptance of our beliefs and promotes a genuine and lasting commitment to
the Federation's work.


[Instructions for the Discussion Leader: Helpful notes to aid the discussion
leader will be enclosed in brackets [] and is not intended to be shared with
the members.]


[The Structure of the Lesson- A. Start the discussion by presenting the
topic argument statement found in Section 1. )If needed, use the discussion
questions and answers provided in Section 1, to open and guide the
discussion.) B. Present the solicitation scenarios found in section 2. These
examples range from being clearly non-philosophically acceptable, to those
which are questionable, to those which are most philosophically desirable.
(A set of questions, a measurement tool for acceptability is provided, and
can be applied to all scenarios.]


{The "correctness" of the philosophical guidelines come from a recent survey
of NFB members and leaders that I conducted via email. A copy of all
correspondence can be found on my personal website
http://www.thoughtprovoker.info <http://www.thoughtprovoker.info/> }


--Section 1: The Philosophical Argument for this Topic


[Read the following statement to the members.]


--Philosophical Argument: What could there be in the make-up of an NFB fund
raising event, that would make it be non-philosophically acceptable to be
engaged in and counter productive to our goals? Verses, what should there be
in the make-up of an NFB fund raising event, that would make it
philosophically acceptable and an asset to the furthering of our goals?


{The following questions and answers can be used to guide the discussion
down the intended path and to the outcome, understanding of what is
philosophically acceptable. Though, it is not totally necessary during this
initial phase to get your people all onto the same page, because more
discussion, enlightenment and consensus will occur as the philosophical
merits of the fund raising scenarios are examined in Section 2.}


--Discussion Questions (Q) and Answers (A):


-(Q)- What is the main goal, the purpose of the National Federation of the
blind? And what type of fund raising event might harm or help that goal?


-(A)- To help establish a sense of the main goal or purpose of the NFB, here
is a very familiar statement that we in the Federation have heard many


As it is stated on the very top of the NFB's internet home-page for all the
world to read, "The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eye sight.
The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information that
exists. If a blind person has proper training and opportunity, blindness can
be reduced to a physical nuisance." Then, it could be said, that a main goal
of the NFB is to change what it means to be blind, by providing information
and demonstration of the capabilities of the blind and to expand upon the
opportunities the blind will have. How then might this goal be helped or
hurt by the right or wrong actions used in seeking donations? 


-(A)- A simple measure of acceptance could be- "After seeing our fund
raising event, will people come away feeling better or worse about the
capabilities of blind people?" 


-(Q)- During a fund raising activity, what actions should the members be
engaged in to promote the spread of positive information and/or belief in
the capabilities of the blind? 


{The survey revealed that there are three main criteria or activities that
should be present in the average fund raising event to make it be the best
it can be, including promotion of the NFB goals.}


-(A)- There has to be public education of a positive nature going on. There
needs to be the dissemination of information in the form of the handing out
of NFB literature and/or open discussion between the NFB members and the


-(A)- Also along the lines of public education, there needs to be the
demonstration of blindness skills, to show that the blind are capable of
performing those tasks that make up the average person's life. Examples
being: The demonstration of independent travel; writing and reading of
Braille; use of a computer running speech out-put and/or screen enlargement;
the use of magnification devices; etc.


{This third criteria does not fit every type of event, though it was felt to
be important.}


-(A)- There should be a low cost item being offered for sale, with the
profit going in as the funds being raised. Rather than, a straight
solicitation for a donation, with no item for the donor to walk away with.


--Section 3- Fund Raising Scenarios 


{As you and your chapter work your way through the list of fund raising
scenarios , each activity needs to be measured against the following
philosophical examination tool; read the measurement tool aloud to your
group and refer back to it at the conclusion of each fund raising scenario.}


--Philosophical Measurement Tool 


-The main question is- does this activity help to promote the goals of the
NFB? If "yes," explain. If "no," explain.


-1. Does it educate the public about the NFB, our goals, programs and


-2. Does it educate the public about the capabilities of the blind  by
demonstration of blindness skills?


-3. Does it offer a desirable item for sale? (Does the sale of an item  fit
the physical circumstances of the activity?)


-Scenario 1: The Street Corner Encounter- You are walking along a busy city
street, there are many other pedestrians traveling in both directions. At
the corner of the block, a blind person attracts by-passers attention. He is
wearing average looking clothing, has a white cane. He is holding out a
non-labeled donation jar, saying to the sound of any and all who approach,
"A donation for the National Federation of the Blind?"


-Second Scenario: The Door-to-Dorr- A blind person (with cane or guide dog),
dressed in clearly NFB labeled clothing, holding a box of candy, rings the
doorbell of a private home. When the home-owner presents themselves, the
blind person says, "I am a member of the National Federation of the Blind,
and we are selling candy bars as a fund raiser. Would you like to buy one
and help us do our work within the community?"


-Third Scenario: Telephone Soliciting- You get a call, "We are calling for
the National Federation of the Blind. For the donation of $25.00, you will
receive a pass for 2, to attend "The Browning Brothers Magic Show." The NFB
will receive 25% of your donation." 


-Fourth Scenario: Email- You get an email from a blind friend or family
member. The subject line reads, "The NFB Race for Independence." You open it
up and the message body reads, "Dear Friend I have entered the National
Federation of the Blind's "Race for Independence" and need your support. The
monies we collect from this fund raiser will be used through the Jernigan
institute to cover the costs of programs for blind youth. Did you know,
there is a literacy crisis in this country? Only 10% of blind youth are
taught Braille?"


--Fifth Scenario: A Staffed Display Table- "Would you like to purchase a
Mother's Day flower and support the work of the National Federation of the
Blind?" Calls out the woman, long white cane in hand, dressed in a polo
shirt with "National Federation of the Blind, New Town Chapter" clearly
stenciled across the front and back; she addresses the customers of a local
store as they enter and exit. The woman and several other members of her
chapter (all wearing NFB labeled clothing) staff a 6 foot table set up just
outside the main entrance to the store. (On the tabletop, there are stacks
of a variety of NFB literature , Braille alphabet cards, a large donation
jar, a slate and stylist for taking notes, someone's long white cane lying
the full length of the table and a bill-identifier to demonstrate and even
use to make change. The front of their table also displays a large NFB



Robert Leslie Newman

President- NFB Writers' Division

Division Website


Personal Website-



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