Day 86: 22 July 2017
Sunday, 22 July 2018 14:06

I like to tell you stories from my fundraising career because I think people are intrigued by money matters, even more so when the story concerns money that people have given away. I was contracted by a school to raise a few million dollars for a new building, and began by asking people in the know who, in their opinion – to put it bluntly – was rich. Well, rich enough to give a big gift. Within a week, I had names of thirty families connected to the school, people who had the capacity to give sizeable gifts. It was not a matter of whether the people would give, I told my identifying sources, more if they could give a decent gift. There was a couple, supporters of the school but who didn’t have children there, whom a young teacher had nominated. Because of the teacher’s age, I left the couple until last. It was a Friday when I finally called them. I explained what I was doing, and asked if we could meet – no obligation, no arm-twisting. The man stunned me by what he said next. ‘It’s a pity you didn’t call sooner, because we just gave $1,000,000 to another school.’ I was shocked, yet overjoyed when they agreed to meet the following Monday, for a chat. Over the weekend, I pondered my approach with them. The man said they were paying their gift to the other school, over three years – extremely valuable information. When we met on Monday, I congratulated the couple on their gift to the other school, and then asked if they might give the same, three-year gift to our school, end-on. They agreed. A week later, the man phoned to say they were going overseas, but they’d updated their wills to ensure their gift intention to our school was honoured, should something go awry! ‘I also want to tell you that we’ve made your school one of the two beneficiaries of our estate,’ the man said. Having some inkling of the couple’s financial circumstances, I was gob-smacked. By my reckoning, our school is set to receive several million dollars. And to think that I’d left calling them, until last! Shame on me!