Pancakes, Relationships and Fundraising
Breakfast on Tuesday this week was a treat. I met my good friend Jay Love, from Bloomerang, at Pancake Pantry in Nashville, Tenn.
Pancake Pantry is known for great food and great service—and long lines. Years ago, it was the go-to place for business meetings, and it was not uncommon to see the governor, the mayor and congressmen there.
After enduring those long lines, I had a goal. I noticed that many of the regulars had good relationships with some of the waitresses. I decided that I would try to do the same, and I got to know Betty very well. She became like a second mom to me, offering me encouragement, advice and sometimes chastisement.
During those days, I was chief development officer at a nonprofit, and it was not uncommon for me to book back-to-back breakfasts and meetings on the same day. It was an efficient way to connect with donors, volunteers and staff.
One day, Betty said, “Darling, you don’t need to be standing in line. You just call and let me know you are coming and we’ll have your table ready.”
That became my new routine. As I got in my car for the 30-minute drive, I would call and ask for Betty.
“Betty, I’m leaving and will be there in about 30—do you think you could have a table for three?” I'd ask.
“I’ll have your booth ready for you. Love you!” she'd reply.
So, I would walk past the line, hug Betty and find my booth ready.
When I told Jay about Betty, he wisely commented, “It is all about relationships, isn’t it?” I agreed.
And, as I think of Betty, who I was told passed away a few years ago, I also remember another key lesson: If you want to have a glimpse of someone’s character, see how they treat service staff and folks who can do nothing to help them. Betty had a unique perspective on—and was suspicious of—several community leaders. Years later, I saw circumstances develop that confirmed her judgement.
It is all about relationships—and how people treat every relationship.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.