“Give … Get … or Get Off! ”

That, a director of development once told me, should be the unofficial motto of every member of every board of directors for every non-profit organization. Oh sure … the board sets policy and, maybe, hires and fire someone in top management. But make no mistake: the real reason you’re on the board of directors is to grow the organization. That means raising money … either by giving it yourself or by going out and, one way or another, raising it. And if you can’t or won’t do either, you’d best step aside for someone who will.
 I’m a member of the board of directors for the National Association of Railroad Passengers and I’m trying to justify my existence there in two ways. First, I make a modest monthly contribution to the organization. And second, I’m doing what I can to increase our membership. After all, the more members we have, the more dues are paid and the more contributions are made. That’s how, as a member of the NARP board, I’m doing my best to “get”.
So now the issue becomes, HOW do we attract more members? One of the ways I’ve used is by convincing a number of companies—mostly travel related—to offer a discount on their products or services to our members … thus creating an added incentive for someone to join NARP. For example, among others, our members get discounts from Avis on rental cars, on Travelpro luggage, and on Amtrak rail fares. There’s certainly nothing new or different about this: AARP and Triple-A have been successfully promoting these incentives for years.
And now, in the above context, that leads me to ask, why don’t some people return my phone calls?
Most NARP members are men, 50-plus. So, thinking it would be a natural synergistic relationship, I put in a phone call to the person in charge of marketing for a large company, with locations all across the country, that specializes in men’s clothing. I left a brief message on their voicemail identifying myself and saying that I would like to discuss the possibility of a joint promotion that could be of mutual benefit.
Nothing. No response. I followed up several days later with a second call. Still not a peep.
Honestly, that really baffles me. What could possibly be that person’s reason for NOT calling me back? I’m ready to propose a relationship with 28,000 potential new customers. I have no logical explanation why there’s no return phone call. Nor do I have any explanation for why that person is still employed.