By Kate Grant, CEO, Fistula Foundation
The most extraordinary conversation I had this year almost didn’t happen.
It was a Friday night. The office was closed when a member of our team came to my office door and told me that a donor was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. Fistula Foundation has over 50,000 names in our donor database, so my initial instinct was to ask her to just take a message. I was trying to get a major plan done for an upcoming Board meeting, a necessary but tiring task I’d been working on in the margins for weeks, and time was finally up. But, that little voice one should never ignore told me to take the call.
The woman calling said her name was Lisa, and she’d called to thank me for a thank you letter I had sent to her for her recent donation. I should have recognized her name, but middle-aged exhaustion and a lot of letters that week meant that her name did not ring the proverbial bell it should have. As my teenage son would say, “my bad.”
Lisa’s voice was warm, bright and engaging. She said she lived in a rural area, where “bears outnumber people” and the population of her county and the next, bears included, was about 50,000. Though she’d lost her husband, she had children and grandchildren who clearly brought her joy. With an infectious laugh, she said she was “just a working stiff.” I liked her; she reminded me of relatives I have living in Montana — grounded, unpretentious, “salt of the earth” stock.
She explained that her brother-in-law had given her a copy of Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save, and she found the theme — that any of us can act to help end world poverty — compelling and wanted to do something. She started by buying a case of the book and giving copies to her family and friends. But she wanted to do more.