We all have something that people say that annoys us. Most of the time it is personal, like certain words or phrases that may come from our parents or the culture of our youth. Our economic crisis has evoked a word that I find very annoying. Beyond annoying, the word is misleading.The culprit? “EVERYBODY.” Ever meet Everybody? Ever see Everybody do anything? Ever see Everybody not do anything? What about Everybody’s sister, NOBODY? Ever see Nobody do anything? Yet we and others say it all the time: “Everybody likes the President.” “Everybody looks great.” “Everybody lost money because of the economic downturn.” Hey, wait a minute, did everybody? “Everybody lost substantial money in the market.” Everybody? “Nobody is giving money away?” Nobody? Give it some thought. I am only 61 years old and haven’t seen everything (another one of those words) or Everybody do anything! Nor have I witnessed Nobody doing anything.Well, the statistics vary about Everybody losing money in this market. But if you listen for it, you can hear of success. The contractor who has been building specialty office buildings for years and didn’t believe in the stock market. He has been making millions and invested all his money in CD’s. Everybody (there’s that word again) called him a fool, but what a smart fool he is today. Or the CEO of one of America’s largest privately held companies, who moved all their foundation money out of the market in 2007 and was able to double and triple his foundation’s giving in 2008. Everybody? I suppose “everybody” doesn’t include the company that is facilitating bankruptcies or the safety glass group who made a fortune following 9/11 because of the run on improving safety. I could go on and on, and maybe you have an example of someone doing well. I saw a statistic that said nearly 40% of the country has not been directly affected by the downturn. Where and who are they? Well, first you have to know they are there before you can find them. You have to listen to people talk about their lives. For fundraisiers that is sometimes a challenge—we have so much to talk about, listening is hardly something we have time to do. After all, EVERYBODY wants to know what we know.By the way, HARTSOOK is having a banner year. Sales are up over 200% and our company continues to grow while many individual consultant practitioners out there are unable to attract clients. This is because serious fundraising organizations don’t want to trust their fundraising plans to a single individual that might go out of business. At the same time, our larger competitors have large office spaces and big payrolls that help them sink in hard times.HARTSOOK is a large, virtual company, agile to move from market to market. I am not bragging—I’m just pointing out not EVERY business, nor EVERY consultant is doing poorly.
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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