~A Veteran~

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America, for an amount of "Up to and including my life". That is honor, and there are far too many people in this country who no longer understand it. - Author Unknown

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Big Business & Funding & Philanthropists

Recently I have had a new lesson in the world of Philanthropist giving. I am probably the most truthful individual many of these philanthropists have had to deal with, and more importantly the most naive.

When I started this project two years ago, the approach was simple. Figure out what is broken, and then figure out how to fix it. Then do both of these to the 100%.

What began with research soon turned into development of programs, and in the natural progression it blossomed with networking and other businesses or individuals wanting to be involved to assist with the final stages of development and implementation.

I have worked for two years, in a voluntary status; basically I never receive the typical salary for anything I have done to this point. My husband is my source of capital to travel and meet with businesses, attend seminars, and set up programs in rural areas away from my home base.

When I put the project out to big Corporations, the reaction was reminiscent of the commercials we have all seen where the little guy is standing on the CEO’s desk at the Bank, and giving his pitch. The CEO looks at him through a magnifying glass, the little guy catches on fire (like an ant) and falls into the trash can beside the CEO’s desk.

I learned last year, that if you have nothing to offer in the way of venture to big Corporations, they look the other way. It is not about the excellence of the project, or the compassion of the one’s who want to implement the project, it is about the bottom line, what the Corporations gain from donating to the cause you present.

I turned my attention to Foundations and Philanthropists at that point last year. My impression was and still is, that if a Millionaire wants to donate to a project, and they make a deal, it is as simple as sending a cashier’s check overnight to get things going.
Apparently I was wrong, because this does not happen without miles of red tape, paperwork, and a long extended “wait” time; often several months of waiting.

For the life of me, I can not figure out why that is. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of a millionaire, and I still see a very simple avenue to get things done, just write the check or call the bank and get the cashier’s check. It takes 5 minutes either way. If you truly believe in a project, if you truly believe in the mission, write the check and prove it.

If your a multi-millionaire, you obviously have a close relationship with your bank(s). It is YOUR money after all, and they will be more than happy to do anything you ask of them at a moments notice. So why is it so difficult to pick up the phone, call the bank, tell your representative to cut a cashier's check for "X" amount, and notify them that FedEx will be around within the hour to pick it up. Give your representative the address to go on the envelope package so it can be filled out when FedEx arrives, and you'll be around that afternoon or in the morning to sign the form for the transaction. You send an email to the recipient telling them that FedEx is arriving the following day with a donation to get your project started. After the recipient faints and regains composure, you inform them that you want a receipt within 24 hours, and a quarterly update thereafter.

The only thing I can deduce from this process taking exorbitant amounts of time is that millionaires are scared of simplicity. They run with their tails between their legs at the slightest hint of a simple solution to a problem. Showing a “softer” side by calling the people they have pledge funding to is not allowed either, so this extends the wait time.

So today the time bomb ticks away. The bomb that will blow and feel like Hiroshima to me personally is set to detonate. Why? First, because the company who has been a blessing for three months while holding onto my contract, with an extended discount for services, has to terminate the contract if funds are not received. More than that, the outstanding additional contracts just so happen to have the very same expiration date and time as well.

People tell me “get a loan!” and “oh you can raise that much!” etc ad nauseum. I find these statements to be true actually, but I am thinking that less than 24 hours to do so is not realistic. Had I KNOWN the two millionaires I have been discussing this project with would take such an extended amount of time to send the donations, I would have taken alternative routes before now. Last week when asking for an “update” from the both of them, I was told I will have the donations by end of month AUGUST. That’s fabulous of course, but it does NOTHING for me right now.

I went outside this morning to see if the leaves on the trees turned into dollar bills and it has not. I checked several sites afterwards to see if there was ANYONE out there with enough “motzee” to take a leap of faith, just as I have actually, and say, “YES! I believe this needs to happen, and here! Let me send you the starter funds ASAP! How would you like them? I only need a receipt for charitable donation, and quarterly progress reports! Lets get this thing going!” (I would probably faint, but I would be quick to offer the routing number and account number for an immediate drop!)

I laugh though, verses shedding tears, because I doubt there is ANYONE in the world of business that has the guts to go WITH their instinct anymore. Now I know for future reference, exactly what I will NOT allow myself to become as a person in business. So I am thankful for the insight.

I continue to wait on the funding faerie of goodness at this point.