The Truth About Fundraising

A WBUR pledge drive during “This American Life.” Ira Glass gets down to brass tacks: “The majority of listeners have never contributed.” The rational listener has learned that even if he ignores the fundraising appeal, public radio will survive. “This is probably the only time you will ever hear this on public radio,” he intones. “Even if you do not donate, the pledge drive will come to an end, and you will still be able to turn on your radio and hear NPR’s Morning Edition, Here and Now, and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

So, why does public radio stay on the air?  It’s because some people–regular, everyday people–contribute year after year. It’s those same people who vote in every election, pickup litter on the sidewalk, and adopt animals from shelters.  What makes these people different?  It’s because they ask themselves:  What would the world be like if everyone behaved like me?”

Something Really Nice

When was the last time you were really down on yourself, and someone came along with a kind word, a sympathetic smile, or a little gift to brighten your day?  For me, that moment came last Thursday.  I was walking around the office in shock, unable to believe that I had missed an event that meant so much to me.   My Outlook calendar had let me down in a big way.  Mayor Menino had invited me and the six other Boston winners of Inc Magazine’s Inner City 100 Award for Urban Excellence in Business to an exclusive award ceremony at City Hall.

This award meant a great deal to me.  Yet, unbelievably, the appointed day had come and gone, and I was oblivious to my error until someone forwarded me a copy of the Boston Globe article the next day.  When I realized my error, I was devastated. I told a few people around me, including my HR director, Donna Barry. “I can’t believe it,” I told them. “This is an award I have been working towards for three years.  And now I’ve missed the ceremony!”  I was really sad. I had let everyone down, including me, my staff, the other award winners, and even Mayor Menino.

For the next few hours, I tried not to think about my mistake.  I buried myself in work and kept my head down. I didn’t notice any unusual activity until Donna pulled me out of the conference room while I was in an interview and led me over to another office.  Surprise!  At least 20 members of my staff were standing in the room, waiting to give me the award, which Donna had picked up, along with a delicious cake from Rosie’s Bakery!

As I looked around the room at everyone’s smiling faces, I realized that this was better than any award ceremony at City Hall, no offense to Mayor Menino! This was an act of pure kindness, and one that I will not soon forget.