For Impact


When You Don’t Ask

For Impact Ideas | | Tom Suddes

I had a really great coaching phone call with a young superstar at Rowan University. I didn’t remember until later that I had written something about Rowan ten years ago.

When You Don’t Ask…

Here are three powerful stories from the For Impact (aka Not-For-Profit) World.


University of Chicago received $1 Million grant from Mrs. Fields of Marshall Field’s fame and fortune. When the administration at Northwestern University read the headline in the newspaper, they were shocked. It seems Mrs. Fields lives in Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern. She’d been a supporter of Northwestern in the past; why hadn’t she donated the money to Northwestern?

When they called Mrs. Fields to discover WHY she’d given the money to the University of Chicago rather than them, she replied,

“The people at the University of Chicago ASKED. You didn’t.”

(Editorial Excerpt from the Seattle Times)

Because of President Herman D. James’ willingness to ASK, his New Jersey campus at Glassboro State College will receive a $100M benefaction from Henry M. Rowan.

By all accounts, Rowan was just waiting to ASKED. He had no college ties in New Jersey, but it was home to his industrial furnace business and he wanted to share his gratitude. People want to help. But first they have to be ASKED.

Those anguish cries echoing from the East are coming from the Alumni Office at MIT, where Rowan graduated with honors.

Here’s another one, even larger.


An older couple went to Harvard to meet with the President and to make a “large gift”. They were stonewalled by the secretary, shuffled off to another office, and treated with disdain. “The President’s busy.” “We don’t have time to talk with JUST ANYBODY who comes in saying they want to give us some money.”

The elderly couple said that they “understood” and that they were “sorry for bothering the administrators.”

As the story goes, the couple, a Mr. & Mrs. STANFORD, really wanted to honor their son… so they took their large fortune to the West Coast and created a pretty fair university of their own in Palo Alto.

The Proverbial Bottom Line of this brave new world of ‘JUST ASK‘ is pretty simple: ASK and you will RECEIVE.