Get in Their Way
Jake Schrum told me this story. He’s President of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia.
When he was Vice President of Emory University (Atlanta), he was responsible for the University’s advancement work. Jake is the staff person mostly responsible for having Wayne Rollins make the largest gift in the history of the University.
Jake wanted to find a way, a very special way, to show the University’s appreciation. Mr. Rollins loved roses.
Jake bought a very special vase. He then arranged with an Atlanta florist to place on Mr. Rollins’ desk every morning a beautiful single rose. Every day. A new rose every day.
It didn’t take the finance office at the University very long before censoring Jake on this unnecessary expense. You know how a finance office can be!
But Jake prevailed. The roses continued.
A few years later, Wayne Rollins made another significant gift to the University.
There’s a lesson here. It wasn’t the rose that secured the gift. It was the constant reminder.
At one time, Perkins & Will was the largest architectural firm in the country. Over a thousand employees. A thousand!
Everyone seemed to know that Larry Perkins couldn’t even draw a straight line.
“Larry, it’s amazing what you’ve done. You have the largest architectural firm in the country,” I said to him one day, sitting in his office. “How have you managed to do this?”
“It’s easy,” he tells me. “I find a good reason to get in the way of a prospective client on a regular basis.”
That’s it. That’s your job. Get in the way of a probable donor on a regular basis.