But there are also happy endings. When I worked out of my house in the beginning, an early morning call might catch me in the shower. A foundation officer called and I gave him my pitch while wrapped in a towel and dripping water on the carpet. He rejected us the first time around, after I violated fundraising etiquette by asking an L.A. Youth board member to try personal persuasion. We managed to repair the relationship and the San Francisco-based foundation later awarded us a two-year grant.
Wallis Annenberg, head of one of the country’s largest philanthropies, surprised me one afternoon with news that our $100,000 grant application had been approved. “Wallis!” I shouted, as if she was my best friend. “How fantastic. Thank you, thank you,” I blurted out, utterly flustered. We both laughed.
I especially enjoy opening the mail and finding a small donation from a name I recognize year after year. We have a few donors who always send a check, whether it’s $10 or $1,000.