by Mike Bruni, Partner, Laurus Strategies
As a Development officer, one is always thinking of creative ways to “get in the door” of prospects that live or work close to your mission. It was such the case when I was an “in-house” VP of Advancement at a Chicago South Suburban Catholic High School. A prominent business close to the school was a modest supporter for years and as we struggled to bring our then $3.8 million Capital Campaign to a close, we were branching out to the business community. As is the case often with those that are on the “peripheral” of the organization, we were struggling to gain access. Calls went ignored and letters unanswered.
It changed on the expressway.
As I made my typical morning drive on Interstate tollway 294 south, I noticed some loose cargo dangling from a large pick-up truck in front of me. Sure enough, the truck hit a pot hole (not surprising in Chicago) and some debris fell off the truck and hit the underbody of the car immediately to my right. As the driver of the car moved to the side of the road, I quickly wrote down the license plate and make/model of the pick-up. I didn’t know why, just figured it was the right thing to do.
I quickly moved over to the shoulder myself and approached the driver of the vehicle to hand off the information and then proceed to my work destination. Appreciative of the gesture, the driver handed me his business card and I reciprocated with mine. It didn’t take 5 seconds for both of us to look at each other and laugh, he was the President of the prominent business I was trying to see. Suffice it to say, I could not be ignored any longer!
I was in his office within 10 days of this incident and a generous investment was ultimately made in the school’s campaign. Successful Development comes with authenticity and genuineness. A mantra of our firm is…”if you want others to invest in you…….you must invest in them”. Investing in them means being genuine with their life situations and being authentic with your support. This very unintentional and random act of kindness opened a door that was previously shut. It was opened (albeit out of luck) but primarily because of kindness. As a Development officer, “don’t ever underestimate the power of kindness”