A Gift of Pearls What Would You Do

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Published November 6, 2013

A Gift of Pearls…What Would You Do?

This actually happened. The Vice President of a well-known and prestigious private university had been calling on a very wealthy widow, a major donor, for a number of years.

There were always several visits a year. And regular telephone calls and letters. The relationship was very close. On one occasion, the donor said to the Vice President, “I love these visits. You know in some way, I think of you as being a daughter of mine.”

A month or so ago, they are meeting in the donor’s living room.After an hour or so, the donor asks to be excused.She goes to her bedroom.She comes out holding a small box.

(After you read the rest of the article E-mail me your response by November 15, 2013. Be sure to include a mailing address so we can send you a copy of the Little Gold Book.)

“I’ve been saving these for you,” she says to the fundraiser. “I don’t want you to open the box now. When you get home, take a look at this small present. Over the years we have been together, our relationship has meant a great deal to me.”

When Suzette (not her real name because I’m certain you would recognize her) opens the box, she couldn’t believe her eyes. A string of pearls. A gorgeous string of pearls!

But obviously, Suzette thinks this is a very good imitation. But still, beautiful and very thoughtful of the donor.

But Suzette is a bit curious. She takes the pearls to the most respected jeweler in the city. She asks for an appraisal.

“This is an extraordinary string of pearls,” the jeweler says. “I’m not certain how readily you could sell them. But I suspect because of the perfection and opulence of the pearls, they would be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of forty or fifty thousand dollars.”

Following that, Suzette calls the donor. She arranges for a visit. The donor loves Suzette so there is no problem in making the appointment.

Suzette takes the box with the pearls back to the donor.

“I can’t accept this. Our relationship is a beautiful one. But it has nothing to do with gifts,” Suzette tells her.

“You have hurt me terribly,” said the donor. “So much so that if you don’t accept the pearls, I’m going to stop giving to the university.”

The scene I set actually happened.

Okay. Here’s my question to you. If you were the Vice President, would you have accepted the pearls? (You’re mindful of what the donor said. You don’t want to lose the gift to the university.)

If not, what would you say to the donor?

Under what conditions could she accept the gift? Would you?

When the donor indicates she would stop giving to the university if the Vice President doesn’t accept the pearls, what would you say?

Let me hear from you. Tell me how you would handle the situation.little-gold-book


Everyone who responds will get a copy of my Little Gold Book. The book is magic. It will open the door to you for more successful fundraising.

I am not going to tell you now what happened. I want to hear from you first. I will respond to every note. (You know how compulsive I am!) And I am going to send you Suzette’s response.

E-mail me your response by November 15, 2013.  Be sure to include a mailing address so we can send you a copy of the Little Gold Book.