Do Pennies Make You Happy? | Funding for Good

Pennies, and all coins for that matter, make me happy.

I absolutely love finding coins.  If I’m having a bad day, my entire day can be turned around by finding a penny in a parking lot or while walking my dog, Leo.  One day recently I found THREE pennies, all in different places, while walking Leo. I was on cloud nine! A few years ago I found six quarters, yes SIX, while walking around a gas station parking lot waiting on my tank to fill up.  You couldn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. I was beside myself. Who leaves quarters, much less six of them, on the ground? I had a perma-smile for hours.

About a month ago, while having lunch with some clients, I observed a man checking out at the counter drop a penny.  I was right in front of him and bent down to pick it up and return it. He was quick to let me know that I could keep it, but instead I took his hand, put the penny in his palm and closed it.  Looking him in the eyes, I smile and said, “Pennies make dollars you know.”  To which he quickly smiled and replied, “You’re right! Thank you!”

What little things make your day? Is it someone giving you a compliment, finding loose change, getting all green lights on the way to work, or maybe just hearing a favorite song on the radio?  The things that make us happy don’t have to be big, and it sure makes life easier to smile about when we recognize the little things.

In the development world I often notice a lack of excitement over ‘the little things’.  In my opinion, there are no ‘little things’ in development.  I still get excited over the introductions to new potential donors, the invitations to networking events, the $50 gifts and the $1000 grants.  To some development staff and some nonprofits, these things are nothing to celebrate. To me, they are all something to celebrate and be thankful for.

Just as pennies create dollars; introductions, networking opportunities, and gifts of all sizes create potential.  Potential is one the key factors in development success.  If you have no potential prospects, no potential matches to funding priorities, no potential grants to write, then what do you have?

As you move through your day-to-day development work, remember to be happy about the little things.  Just because you are used to large gifts, major grants, and easy appointments with prospects, don’t forget to be genuinely happy about all the ‘potentials’ that cross your path.