Passing the Hat

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Published July 3, 2016

Passing the Hat

Rod Rawlings is a former staff member. It was a great loss to the firm when he decided to move to Florida to make his fortune selling real estate. He has taken on a second life. He does a full performance on the stage of Mark Twain. It is fantastic.

Now . . . about this e-mail.

You know me pretty well by now. You understand that I’m not a great fan of inviting lots of people for a cultivation event if we don’t give them special instructions.

“We told you at the beginning of our session that we were not going to ask for a gift. But I hope you will join us in this great cause. In the next few days, our Director of Development will be calling you to arrange for a time for a visit. Between now and then, I hope you will consider carefully what you might do to help support this significant program.” Or something of the sort.

If you are going to try to collect money at the big event, let me tell you what Rod Rawlings sent me. It’s from a Mark Twain speech.

“It is a great mistake to get everybody ready to give money and then not pass the hat. Some years ago in Hartford, we all went to the church on a hot, sweltering night to hear the annual report of Mr. Hawley, a city missionary, who went around finding people who needed help. He told of the life of the desperately poor, and he gave instances of his heroism and devotion to them.

“Hawley worked me up to a great state. I couldn’t wait for him to get through. I had $400 in my pocket. I wanted to give that and borrow more to give. You could see greenbacks in every eye in the crowd. But he didn’t pass the plate, and it grew hotter, and we grew sleepier. My enthusiasm went down, down, down— $100 at a time, till finally when the plate came around, I stole ten cents out of it.

“So you see a neglect like that may lead to crime.”