Drinking coffee at a sidewalk cafe in the Land of Lost Board members is what you would expect. The land is neither in day nor night, hot nor cold, so the coffee is tepid and old. But I needed something after my surreal meeting with Bella Pelorizado. She is working to shutdown her nonprofit while she tries to handle a head of out-of-control Shirley Temple, regenerating curls. This might be a three cup afternoon. This job certainly had…………wait a minute. Across the sidewalk there were some of Bella’s curls scampering along a park bench. They seemed to notice me, now they are moving around like a cheerleading squad. They’re spelling………HELP! Yes, several disconnected ringlets lined up along the bench back spelling Help, and they were “looking” at me. I walked over to the bench, and in what felt like a Lassie moment, I asked, “Is something wrong?” They quickly disassembled their word and stood at attention, they all nodded. What appeared to be the spokes ringlet, tossed a curl toward a side street. They all jumped down and scampered toward the street. So I followed.
We came to an alley filled with the detritus of nonprofits. They halted and spelled SHHHHH on the rim of a dumpster. I could hear voices. Peering around the dumpster, I saw Bella tied to a pole, her curls had been shorn and they were cowering in the alley dust and debris. Bella’s head had been wrapped with duct tape so it looked as though she were wearing a turban. Two people were arguing. One was a man holding a razor. He was arguing with a woman while he tried to keep the ringlets at bay by waving the razor.
“What are you doing to Bella?” I demanded. “Who are you people?”
“I’m Karen Terrier, rhymes with Perrier,” she answered nervously. “I need to learn from Bella before she retires from fund raising. Bella is the master, the ……”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” The man silenced her. “I’m Mac Velly,” he looked at Karen, and added, “rhymes with Jelly. Bella’s my catch. She can’t leave the industry without passing on her skill to me.”
“So you’ve tied her up and shaved her head?”
“I guess things got out of hand,” Mac tried to explain as he turned to face me. “That hair,” he gestured over his shoulder, “kind of puts you on the defensive.” The ringlets began inching through the dust toward Mac’s feet while his back was turned.
“We just wanted some information on donor data base management.” Karen sort of shrugged, “you know, should we buy some software, or sign a contract for an online service? Things like that”
The ringlets were closing in, so I said,” Managing and growing your database is an important part of running a successful agency. There are several methods, purchased software or online services, that allow an agency to stay current, file and maintain donor information, and even manage volunteer and client data. A growing agency needs to investigate donor management options.”
The ringlets were in place. Mac was curl tackled. Karen was pushed against the dumpster. Bella’s eyes were wide, and her duct tape turban was expanding like a pan of Jiffy Pop! I was too late. I had never seen duct tape explode! Curls tumbled, scurried, spelled unprintable words!
I finally reached Bella and released her. She removed the last bit of duct tape…from her mouth. She was furious.
She turned to the curlnappers. “What do you mean treating me like this. I was willing to share my donor management knowledge with both of you, but now you can go to …,” as the curls spelled you know what in the alley dust.
“Renee is right. Successful agencies need to think about what information concerning donors is important to have on hand and easily accessible. You have to consider cost. For example, which has advantages to your fund raising strategy, an up front investment in software or a continuing monthly fee for online services. In addition you should consider privacy and confidentiality. If you go online, what are the encryption protocols. Also look at training and tech support. How easy is it to ask a question, change your information fields? Those are things good agencies would explore.” She stopped in mid pique, “but as for you two, I don’t give a ….“ And the ringlets completed the thought.
She stomped out of the alley. Her shaved head already had a new curl crop while the rescue ringlets formed up in military parade formation and followed her out in curl cadence. Hut, hut, hut.
August 2006 Donor Database Management