Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fundraising Calls Gone Bad

My good friend David Gillig from San Diego has been a fundraiser for about 20 years (That's over a hundred in fundraising years). David and I were members of a great organization, Children's Circle of Care, which represents some of the leading children's hospitals in North America.

Each year, we would meet with other Chief Development Officers and share best practices from our respective hospitals. Who am I kidding ... it was just an excuse to drink and tell war stories. Fundraisers LOVE to tell war stories.  David actually created a name for it during our meetings "Fundraising Calls Gone Bad".

Here are a few of my personal favorites that are near and dear to my heart. (I'd tell you others from around the country ... but they threatened to kill me).

My predecessor at All Children's Hospital is a great guy and a legend among fundraisers. That means he can suck up and grovel with the best of them. Lloyd Horton was raised in North Carolina (which meant that whenever he introduced himself, people thought his name was Lawd Hotten).

One of Lawd's major donors was a wealthy widow I will refer to as Ms. M. She lived in a penthouse overseeing Tampa Bay and would invite Lawd over for drinks and dinner from time to time. One particular evening, Lawd and Ms. M were sharing cocktails with one of Ms. M's friends (a "veteran" actress who was doing the dinner theater circuit in St. Petersburg). It was late in the evening when Lawd excused himself to go to the bathroom.

He was in there for a while. Apparently as he was standing there ... he was taken aback by the fact that M's bathroom walls were completely covered with mirrors. In the distance he heard the phone ring. Suddenly Ms. M threw open the door ...

"Lloyd. Your wife Carolyn is on the phone." Lloyd saw M in every mirror ... He turned quickly, trying to zip up his pants but unfortunately created a new watercolor across the closest mirror.

"Um ... I'll be right out," he said weakly.

The second Lawd Hotten story I love to tell is the one about a benefit event I attended with Lloyd. It was a fashion show and we were seated at the head table. After the mandatory small talk with the dignitaries at our table the lights dimmed and the runway filled with music and strobe lights.

Lloyd raised his eyebrows at me ... the universal sign for "what the heck is going to happen next?" All of a sudden, women danced out on stage from every possible corner. All of them wore very skimpy outfits and moved quickly back and forth.

"We thought this would be a wonderful change for the ladies this year." One of our hostesses screamed to us over the music.

Lloyd started to turn to answer her, when one of the models spun right in front of him and accidentally slipped right out of the top of her dress.  Lloyd practically leaped out of his seat and fell back into the lap of the hostess, landing with his arm in her key lime pie as he yelled ... "Holy S***t!"

"Lloyd is trying to tell you how much enjoyed the change as well," I screamed to the hostess.

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