Unsolicited Generosity

March 31st, 2011

Asking for donations may be one of the ‘least favorite’ things on my list. There’s just something about reaching out to people and requesting they make a contribution to one of my kids’ extracurricular activities that doesn’t inspire me. Yet, it’s one of those necessary evils… whether it was selling Girl Scout Cookies or wrapping paper when our kids were younger, I always had a ‘not another one’ attitude about the approach.

That’s why when we attended a meeting about a summer league team for my varsity basketball playing son – and the mom organizing everything said, “We’ll need to ask for donations or raise money for uniforms” – I cringed with anxiety and thought, ‘I kinda hoped we were past that phase.’

Yet being a good rules follower and helper guy, I suggested to my wife that we needed to reach out to establishments where we spend a lot of money and ask for their help. So through email and in-person visits, we requested donations from our dentist of 12 years, car repair place where we’ve been loyal customers for a decade and favorite two restaurants (one fast-casual and the other upscale).

What were the results? I’m thrilled to report four-for-four. These small business owners made a nice contribution – even knowing the reach for their advertising dollars would be minimal. One followed up with an email to Kathy that said, “Thank you for thinking of me.” I was so surprised by their responses that I decided Success Handler, LLC also needed to write a check.

There are two lessons here: 1) Never shy away from asking… you never know how much someone might want to help; and, 2) When a parent or organization makes a request of your business, catch them off guard by saying ‘Yes!’ They already have enough folks who will decline.

One other thing is certain: we’ll remain loyal customers of those four service providers for years. So they’ll end up way ahead regardless of whether anyone else becomes a customer after seeing their names on the back of our warm-up jerseys.

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