Cat and Mouse Relations

There’s no question that fundraisers need to be able to adjust and adapt quickly as the situation requires. One memorable event that reinforces this point comes to mind.

Moving an entire nonprofit organization is no easy task. And moving into an old building requiring extensive renovation comes with its challenges. One late afternoon, I was meeting with our government affairs director in her office behind closed doors as we whispered to each other across her desk about an ongoing personnel problem. Our faces were only inches apart as we both leaned in to ensure confidentiality.

Then mid-sentence, my eyes glanced down as I saw a critter scamper across the desk between us and down to the floor. Our screams in unison were heard all the way down the hall as we jumped from our seats and ran out of her office. We were horrified by the invasion of a mouse in our area where many women worked and visitors frequented.

Our facilities department was called to help solve this problem. Our facilities director responded immediately and hatched a sure-fire plan. He quickly came into our office area and put the stray cat that had been circling our building into the office where the mouse was seen. We left for the evening, thinking the crew would remove the cat and mouse and the next day we would be mouse-free. However, when we arrived in the morning, we were surprised to find the now angry cat was still locked in my co-worker’s office…without food, water or a litter box. Needless to say, the expected clean-up of one single mouse had now multiplied in odor and mess, requiring a significant carpet and desk cleaning.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of our mouse relations. Our CEO had a top public official in for a meeting, where this same director was present. Our executive, with a sweet tooth, always had a candy dish on his table. As the group discussed our project, my co-worker couldn’t help but notice the candy dish had been invaded as well, and this time the candy dish was left with remnants from the mouse’s visit. As conversation continued, and before our government representative reached in for a treat, our government affairs director made a reasonable excuse, quickly removing the bowl and saving our government guest from seeing or ingesting mouse droppings – regardless of his political party.

And there marks the difference between being able to think quickly on your feet with a successful response versus just thinking quickly, and not thinking through your response to the situation. Disaster averted is always my preference.

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