When my son was born, my parents gave my wife a little silver cup that I used to use when I was a toddler. The cup is beat up. It is dented. And depending on who is describing the condition of the chalice, the goblet looks like a feisty, opinionated and spirited child made his feelings known to the world by banging it on anything and everything he could find.
My wife loves the fact that my parents gave her the cup because it speaks volumes about the deep rooted convictions I hold. To her it proves that I have always had an opinion about everything and well, whether people like it or not, I am more than willing to make my opinions known. I disagree with her assessment but whenever I want to argue my case, she has proof to the contrary.
“Look,” she says holding up the little silver cup with a glint of glee in her voice, “the evidence speaks for itself!”
I have worked at nonprofit organizations my entire life. For the past eleven years, I have been the Executive Director of my agency. But until recently, I have been extremely successful at meeting my annual budget goals. But lately, with the economy in a state of flux, the competition for dollars to support our programs has become quite fierce.
At a recent round table of nonprofit executives, our discussion was on the evaporating funding sources and how we could all work to achieve our financial obligations in an economically depressed environment. We discussed a myriad of topics ranging from collaborations, fundraising and grants.
My favorite topic of the meeting was the conversation about thinking outside of the box in order to tap into new revenue streams. As people proposed suggestions, other people in the room would discuss their success or failures with each new idea. As it turned out, we had all been outside of the box for years. I left the meeting feeling the same way I had when I walked into the room, dispirited!
I was cleaning up a mess my kids made in the living room the other night and as I walked past the china cabinet, I spotted my little silver cup sitting on the shelf. I stopped, opened the door to the cabinet and took out the cup and stared at it for a few minutes. I chuckled to myself as I sat down on the couch and really examined each and every dent I had made in the cup as a child.
As I was reminiscing about some of the trouble I got into during my youth, a cartoon light bulb appeared above my head and illuminated the room. I had an idea! A new creative, inventive, outside the box idea that was guaranteed to create revenue! It was brilliant and like Jerry Maguire, I sat down to work out the details of my latest scheme.
I am attending a meeting next Monday. When the moderator finally quiets everyone down so we can begin, I will quietly take my little silver cup out of my coat pocket and place it on the table in front of me. I will make sure to bang it a little on the table as I set it down in order to gain the attention of my colleagues as I wait patiently for someone to ask, “Doug, what’s with the little silver cup?”
And then I shall proclaim, “Since it is a widely held belief that I am opinionated or that I have no problem sharing my opinions with you whether you like it or not, I have decided to give you the option of the little silver cup. Every ten dollar donation that gets put into the cup will buy ten minutes of my silence.”
Something tells me that when the offer to buy my silence is placed on the table that my little silver cup shall runneth over!
Click on the links below to see the Little Silver Cup: