In Swami Sivananda Saraswati's ashram in Rishikesh he used to catch people out being generous. He identified miserly people doing something slightly generous and he highlighted this to everyone bragging about the person's generosity. From this the miserly were convinced that they were generous and over time these people would become more and more generous. Their hearts would start to open up. Once when Swamiji saw a man, who always took for himself; never had a good word to say about anyone, who hoarded his food, his time and any other resources, give someone a compliment. Swamiji flaunted this man as heroic, so kind, so generous, so loving and over time this man became those things.
This example of Swamiji's behaviour is my formula for a successful Sivananda Math Chai Stall, well part of it anyway. Here is the other part.
If you are having a Chai Stall or running a kirtan or a film night - the difference between making $150 and $450 is this;
Give people stuff. Stuff means, heart warming stories especially about what Sivananda Math are doing. People like to feel good and there are plenty of wonderfully, inspiring stories of Sivananda Math. These two films, Yoga of the Heart & The Art of Giving are fabulous for inspiring, educating and encouraging bhakti yoga.* When we have a stall I print out a short article from YogaMag - did you know that Sivananda Math produces YogaMag? - on the back of the article I include a subscription form on the back and the link to ordering the magazine on-line.
Play music on a small CD player, your computer or from an IPod docking station. Make the atmosphere sublime. Fill the room with Krishna Das, Caitlin Saraswati or other beautiful music. This is very good for people's souls. Offer incense up to the Divine. As well as flowers, candles, dim the lights. Offer your cake/chai to Ganesha etc at a little altar. He will bless your gathering.
Serve the people the cake and chai. This is really important. You are giving them prasad, they are giving you a donation for Sivananda Math. Give them a smile. Tell them that you love it when they come to your stall/evening/kirtan.
I place several Donation Bowls around the event. It is helpful if you have a float. Fill your bowls with this float. More people will be encouraged to put more money in when they see $10, $20 and $50 notes in the bowls. Create a little sign, "Sivananda Math ~ Thank you ~"
You might wish to sell a few little things. Make some Ity cards, here. Sometimes people donate things to our stall. We sell those things. * You might want to show a film at your next gathering to raise money for Sivananda Math. All you need is some people to come along aspiring yogis, yoga students, friends, neighbours. You could serve chai - here is the ashram recipe - biscuits, cakes, herbal tea or just water and fruit.
You will have many blessings from Sivananda.